Gizmos & Gadgets

By Seymour, Richard | The Middle East, January 2014 | Go to article overview

Gizmos & Gadgets


Seymour, Richard, The Middle East


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PRODUCT LAUNCHES FOR NEW SMARTPHONES have become big events, as eagerly anticipated as film premiers or royal weddings. The mobile phone market in the Middle East continues to grow, with sales of smartphones, especially, increasing across the region. Figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC) reveal that 40% of all mobile devices in the MENA region are now smartphones.

The most anticipated recent smartphone launch was the Nexus 5, made by LG for Google. The Nexus has somewhat of a cult following and it sold out within hours of its release on the Google Play store.

Part of its appeal is that it comes installed with the latest Android operating system, 4.4, also known as KitKat that offers users a faster, more refined user interface. What also attracts consumers is that it is relatively cheap for such a device and comes unlocked, so it can be used on any network. Plus Nexus users are always the first to receive major updates, which carriers are notoriously slow to pass on otherwise.

The Nexus 5, available in either white or black and with 16GB or 32GB of storage, is essentially LG's L2 with a quad core processor and 2 gigabyte RAM. However, the Nexus comes with none of the tweaks that slowed the L2 down and KitKat is, according to benchmark tests, remarkably fast itself. Tests have shown the Nexus outperforms the Samsung $4 and the HTC One.

The 4.95 inch screen is high resolution as has to be the case these days for a handset to sell well. Users have found that videos, photos and games are all rendered beautifully. There is, though, a trade-off with battery life. Light users may not need to worry but gamers and those who use their devices to listen to music will not make it through to evening before needing to find a power source.

The camera is reportedly good without being sensational. It works well in low light conditions, which is a plus, but is slow and does not capture moving subjects well, although priced at between $400 and $500, one might well expect it to. There are better phones on the market but for the price it represents outstanding value and is a fitting flagship for the Google brand.

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It took a while for consumers to get used to the idea, after so many years of small devices that big was better after all. Samsung have led the revolution with their Galaxy Note series. Nicknamed 'phablets' as they are a cross between a phone and a tablet, they have got progressively bigger until now, the latest iteration, the Note 3, has a 5.7 inch screen. This means that while you can use the basic functions with one hand, making the most of it is a two-thumb job.

Its silver trim is set off beautifully with a leather effect back complete with pretend stitching, giving it a high-end feel. Users have found its Amoled display extremely vivid with small text standing out clearly. The Note 3 is very much a device for productivity. Small enough to use as a phone it is still large enough to complete important tasks normally reserved for larger devices. …

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