Get that phone
Dubai: A phone is no longer about the phone alone.
You may put in all the bells and whistles on your phone, but if the engine (software) that's supposed to run all that real estate is not up to speed and it doesn't have an entire ecosystem of apps and software to go with it, it's nothing more than a block of brick.
This is exactly why the iPhones, the Galaxies, the BlackBerrys and the HTCs have marched ahead of the traditional heavyweights.
These big players not only managed to deliver great hardware but also had the vision to back it up with innovative software and a family of apps that could squeeze out all the juice from that combination.
Today's phones have gone way beyond the usual music-camera-video mode into the exciting world of social networking, apps, GPS-based technologies and a lot more.
Mobile internet and the apps market have pushed cellphones into a different growth trajectory.
We look at some interesting new phones, as well as a few that are expected to hit the shelves during the course of the year.
Nokia hopes to usher a new pattern in smartphones with swipe which does away with the home button as all content, apps and content remains dynamic allowing users to navigate around in a continuous mode.
Targeted for the style-conscious, the N9 is Nokia's first full touch MeeGo powered smartphone. The sleek all-screen device with a polycarbonate shell has no home button — the only ones being the volume buttons and a lock key on the right side of the chassis.
The N9 comes with a 3.9-inch Amoled Gorilla Glass capacitive multi-touch (480 x 854 pixel resolution) display.
The N9 is also bringing near field communication (NFC) to users here. The beauty of NFC is that it's fast and makes Bluetooth look ancient. With NFC you only need to tap another NFC-enabled device or devices once and you are connected. You can then transfer huge amounts of data to multiple NFC devices or even play your songs and videos through NFC devices at blazing speeds.
The N9 is also the first Nokia with a 1GHz processor - a Cortex A8 CPU and comes with 1GB of RAM and of course Nokia has always packed good cameras (it's the Carl Zeiss optics) and the new snapper goes 8-megapixel that shoots HD videos.
While all that is great, the one question everyone keeps asking, why Meego, when Nokia is itself migrating to Windows?
Today it's all about the entire eco-system surrounding a phone and questions remain about the OS, a stuttering OVI apps market and uncertainty regarding continuity in upgrading apps and software.
Retails at around Dh2,599
BlackBerry Bold 9900
Many reckon the BlackBerry Bold 9900 to be the best BB ever. And not without reason. Backed by new hardware and a brand new BB OS7 besides a powerful 1.2GHZ processor, this cutting-edge phone packs quite a wallop in terms of speed and performance.
It doesn't stop at that. There's a high-spec touchscreen, 720HD video camera, in addition to a fantastic keyboard and of course BB's forte in e-mail and BBM, all while offering the highest security on any smartphone.
The 2.8" touchscreen offers VGA resolution of 640 x 480, providing breathtaking clarity for browsing, viewing or just generally scrolling around the phone.
There are some new features such as a notifications bar for information on messages (social networks, email, SMS) to missed calls and app updates, plus a handy screen of most-used apps.
The 5-megapixel snapper however does not give great bang for your buck and even the video recording is not all that great and this is one area where BB needs to do a bit of catching up. Surprisingly, the battery on this one does not match the usual BB standards. Another rant against BB is the lack of enough apps compared to Apple or Android, but what the heck, the phone's brilliant enough to make these matters stand against it.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 feels great in the hand, and the styling is luxurious. Software and hardware enhancements deliver a super-fast user experience. Fusing the traditional strengths with new technology this is one phone that will be the flagbearer from the BB stables.
Retails at around Dh2,599
LG Optimus 3D P920
The world's first 3D phone ups the ante in the highly competitive smartphone market. With each of the big players carving their own niche and creating their own identities, you need to be different to stand out from the crowd and this is LG's attempt to break the mould.
The phone comes pre-loaded with a handful of apps, games and videos so that you can start enjoying 3D right out of the box, but after that, most of the 3D content you'll be watching is likely to come from YouTube or your own efforts on the phone's 3D camera.
The 4.3-inch touchscreen displays 3D pictures and videos without the need for stupid glasses with all the phone's pre-loaded 3D content gathered in one place in an app called 3D Zone. Getting there is easy via a home screen shortcut or dedicated hot-key on the side. Outside the 3D Zone and the camera app, the rest of the Optimus 3D is in normal 2D.
There's a dual-lens 5-megapixel camera, so you can capture 3D video. You can also hook up the phone to a 3D TV via the HDMI port. When you press the 3D hardware button, the phone switches into 3D mode and takes you to the 3D Space, a carousel of 3D content.
There are a handful of 3D games available from the phone's Gameloft app. But there's hardly any 3D content in the Android app store, but that could change with others likely to jump on the 3D bandwagon, it won't be long before you get content that really shows off the phone's capabilities.
The 3D handset is powered by a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray
For those looking at the perfect combination of beautiful design and a rich feature set, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is a high-end choice with its sleek design and advanced camera at a relatively cheap price.
With a 3.3" touchscreen, it's smaller than the Arc, but it runs the latest Android Gingerbread 2.3 OS, in addition to a 1Ghz processor, Reality Display with Mobile Bravia Engine which brings such advantages as noise reduction, sharpness, colour management, and contrast enhancement. The best feature here is the 8.1mp camera with a Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor and other advanced options like 16x digital zoom, face/smile detection, and can capture 720p HD video.
The smartphone boasts an aluminium chassis that measures just 9.4mm thick and comes in black, gold, white, and pink. To add to a full set of specifications, the phone incorporates a front facing camera and a scratch-resistant screen with excellent resolution and brightness and integrated touch keys.
There are loads of apps with the Android Market now boasting over 200,000 Apps.
The rest of the feature set includes full wireless options (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, aGPS).
Price Dh1,799 (approx)
HTC EVO 3D
This follow-up to the original HTC EVO 4G is packed to the brim with features. However, it's thinner, feels better in the hand, and is way more powerful.
Like the Optimus 3D, the HTC EVO 3D has a 4.3-inch display. The Gorilla Glass screen has a 540x960-pixels resolution. While images aren't exactly flying in your face; rather, it looks like you can peer into the phone.
The EVO 3D is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that supports advanced 3D technology, including full 1080p 30-frames-per-second HD video and stereoscopic-3D video capture and playback.
Speed is the essence here, right from booting to running applications, movies, gaming. Throw anything at this beast and it roars back with style.
The phone boasts two cameras a 5-megapixel cameras at the back for 3D photo and HD video capture, 1080p HD video playback and a front-facing camera for video calling.
Interestingly, the HTC EVO 3D has more RAM and a slightly bigger battery than HTC's flagship Sensation Android phone.
Samsung Galaxy S II
The fastest, slimmest and slickest Android phone, this beauty from Samsung has been wowing tech geeks and users ever since it launched.
This Android 2.3.3-equipped successor to last year's Samsung Galaxy S is lightning fast with a dual core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of internal storage, microSD-support and Samsung's updated TouchWiz 4.0 UI.
It's a big phone, but doesn't feel particularly large in your hand despite its huge 4.3-inch display thanks to its slim make (8.5mm thickness) and light weight (just 116g).
The phone boasts a gorgeous display on the 4.3-inch 800x480 Super AMOLED plus screen. Other features include an 8-megapixel camera,
It comes with internal memory of 16GB/32GB, which together with MicroSD Card up to 32GB provides sufficient storage space.
The easiest in-car speakerphone around, the stylish Jabra DRIVE is easy-to-use and intuitive.
Connecting to two mobile devices at a time, it requires no set up whatsoever, allowing drivers and passengers to stay in touch with family and friends while on the road and in compliance with hands-free driving laws.
Delivering crystal clarity in conversations, a voice guidance system announces battery status and Bluetooth connectivity, while large control buttons for volume and on/off make operation a cinch. The DRIVE boasts 20 hours of talk time and an impressive 30 days of standby time.
"The Jabra DRIVE represents an affordable option for all types of uses - specifically, moms looking to keep their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and ears tuned into family life," said Noha Ramadan, Marketing Manager, Middle East and Africa, Mobile Division, GN Netcom.
The Jabra DRIVE retails at around Dh239.
Magnus launches low radiation phones
Germany-based Magnus Telecom has launched eight models of mobile phones in the UAE equipped with low-radiation technology and ‘healthy’ call handling features such as thumb recognition and other biometric features, which enable heart rate monitoring.
The new Magnus range of reasonably priced phones (Dh200-600) include M1 (Querty), M3, M4, M5, M8 (Querty), MX4/MX5 (music centric phones) and ML01 (company says the battery can last 30days) which will be available in the UAE.
The mobiles are also equipped with standard features such as dual SIM, FM radio, TFT screen, GPRS/WAP, Bluetooth, WIFI and support for MP3/ MP4/AGP/WMA applications. Each of Magnus handset comes with a lifetime warranty as one of its key customer offering.
The company is also coming out with a tablet touch pad that will be unveiled at Gitex next week, while the company is also planning on launching reasonably Android-based smartphones having the same healthy features by December this year.
“Growing environmental and health awareness among mobile phone consumers have set new trends in consumer demand,” said Jabir Mohammad, Regional Head, Magnus Telecom. “We believe in developing products that meet customers’ technological requirements and also address the health risks associated with technology.”
“Research has indicated that radiation from mobile phones is highest during “dialing or receiving” calls. Our new mobiles are equipped with low-radiation technology and offer a variety of ‘healthy’ calling features that enable users to reduce exposure to harmful microwaves,” he added.
Naushad Abdullah of Telelink Technologies UAE, Regional Partner of Magnus Telecom said: “As the first of its kind product, the new range of ‘caring’ phones from Magnus will cater to the health conscious customer and promote the safe use of technology in a cost-effective manner.”