Etisalat is holding a midnight launch event on the 12th of December to celebrate the arrival of iPhone 5 in the UAE with thirteen of it’s locations staying open past midnight to get the iPhone 5 into fan’s hands. In the Abu Dhabi region, the Main Business Centre and the Al Ain Business Centre, as well as the Deira and Al Wasel Business Centres in Dubai will open for the midnight sale. In the Northern Emirates, the Musharif Business Centre in Ajman, and the Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Business Centres will open for this event. The iPhone 5 will also be available for purchase at Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the Dubai Airport, the Al Samha petrol station in Abu Dhabi, the Al Manakh and Al Nouf Business Centres in Sharjah and the Sharjah Airport, all of which are operational 24 hrs.
As disclosed earlier, the upfront price for iPhone 5 is AED 2749 for 16GB, AED 3149 for 32GB and AED 3549 for 64GB devices. However, Pre-paid plans offer customers 1GB data allowance for free the first 3 months. From the fourth month onward, the 1GB data will be available for as low as AED99. Etisalat’s iPhone 5 bundled post-paid plan also provides customers great value with three attractive options that includes a contract-free package with 8GB data allowance; 800 local minutes or 200 international minutes of voice calls; and 200 SMS for a monthly rental of AED225. The package offers customers double the data for half the rental as compared to post-paid packages on a 12-month contract basis.
Post-paid packages and data plans on contract basis offer customers FREE or discounted iPhone 5 devices along with applicable data allowance, local or international talk-time and national SMS. However, these plans have yet to be disclosed by Etisalat. For more information on packages and rentals for business plans, customers can visit www.etisalat.ae/iphone.
RIM has released v7.0 of it’s highly popular Instant Messaging service for BlackBerry devices on BlackBerry App World. The biggest feature of the new version is voice chatting- you will now be able to voice chat with your BBM contacts as long as they are also running v7.0 of BBM and both of you are connected to Wi-Fi. This will certainly help BlackBerry users that have generally not been able to use popular VoIP services like Skype or Viber.
Other new features of BBM7 include:
- Multi-tasking with Split-screen feature – Customers can do more while they talk, such as check other BBM text chats, check email, or navigate to other apps while engaged on a BBM Voice call. They can start a call in an instant, and switch between texting and talking, or text and talk at the same time. They can also for example, send a picture to a contact while they are talking with them.
- Clear Visual Indicator – Customers can see when contacts are available for a voice call.
- Convenient Compatibility with Accessories – Customers can use their favorite accessories, such as a Bluetooth or wired headset, or use the BlackBerry smartphone’s speakerphone.
- 16 New Emoticons – Available in the final software released today, customers will see a slate of new emoticons offer them fresh, fun ways to express themselves in text chats.
- Direct BBM Update Notification – BBM will now notify a customer when there is an update from within the app, and allow them to download it immediately from inside the app.
- Simple BlackBerry ID Synchronization – A customer’s BBM profile, Groups and Contacts are now linked to their BBID for easy backup and restore. The data will also carry over when they move to BlackBerry 10.
BBM 7.0 should be available soon in the UAE BlackBerry App World as it is going through final stages of verification.
A nice upgrade is going to be landing soon for Samsung Galaxy S III owners. The Premium Suite Upgrade will bring the multi-window functionality that is already present on Galaxy Note II to Galaxy S III owners along with a few other surprises such as Low-Light-Shot and Best Face to the camera. The following video showcases some of these new features. A full list of features follows.
(1) Paper Artist: You can make a picture like a pop artist! Change the moods of your pictures whenever you want!
(2) Camera, Low Light Shot: It’s always tough to take pictures in dark places. So the GALAXY S III with Premium Suite has a Low-Light-Shot function. Get your hands on one and check out the difference!
(3) Camera, Best Face: The problem with group pictures? Somebody always, ALWAYS blinks. Well, Best Face is your solution to that. Best Face takes 5 consecutive pictures and lets you choose the best face for each person among those shots.
New Features & Better Accessibility
(1) Easy Mode: For first-time smartphone users and/or those who are really really, well, lazy. This function helps you set up the most five frequently used widgets on the home screen, so you don’t have to be tired of looking everywhere to find those apps.
(2) Sound Balance: You can adjust the balance of volume one each side of earphones.
(3) Setup Wizard: After turning on your cell phone, you can see the accessibility menu right away on the screen.
(4) Camera Easy Snap: With ‘talk back’ and ‘face detection’ on your settings menu, the GALAXY S III tells you how many faces it can detect on the camera preview.
After Etisalat announced that pre-orders for iPhone 5 will start today, the second telco in the UAE, du, has announced similar plans as well. The iPhone 5 will be available to pre-order from du starting today along with a promotion to possibly win an iPhone 5 every hour. du has also clarified that LTE is being tested with their network and iPhone 5 and will be enabled through an update once its ready to roll. PR after the image.
du today announced it will offer iPhone 5 in the UAE for pre-booking beginning 09 December. iPhone 5 will be available for AED 2,749 for the 16GB model, AED 3,199 for the 32GB model and AED3,599 for the 64GB model, and can be pre-booked online through shop.du.ae or across all du shops.
du has tailor-made offers for existing and new customers to select from depending on their needs. Customers can decide between Monthly Plans or Pay as you Go plans.
Every customer who pre-books iPhone 5 will have the chance to win another iPhone 5 every hour for free.
“Our customers will be amongst the first in the UAE to own a new iPhone 5 that is tailored to the Middle East region with local specifications. The iPhone 5 is an iconic smartphone that represents the most exciting technology to come from Apple yet, and we are proud to once again take the lead in bringing the latest products to our customers,” said Farid Faraidooni, Chief Commercial Officer, du.
iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology—all while delivering even better battery life. iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features including: Shared Photo Streams, Facebook integration, all-new Maps app and Passbook organization.
The iPhone 5 is a LTE device and as with any new cutting-edge technology, verification and interoperability testing is needed to guarantee the best possible consumer experience before commercial availability. Apple and du is working closely to finalize the interoperability testing. Both parties will issue an update to existing consumers enabling LTE as soon as testing is complete.
It’s the news many of us have been waiting for. While Apple announced the availability of the iPhone 5 in most of the GCC countries for December 14th, we now have official confirmation from the largest telco in the UAE.
Etisalat announced today that pre-orders for iPhone 5 through their website will start on the 9th of December which is a Sunday. You will be able to pre-order the device in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities along with prepaid or post-paid plans. Unfortunately it seems that LTE might not make it at launch as the press release states 3G HSPA+ connectivity on these devices which we know are LTE capable. Etisalat has also revealed the pricing for iPhone 5 that starts at AED 2749 for 16GB, 3149 for 32GB and 3549 for 64GB. Press release follows after the images.
The highly anticipated iPhone 5 is now available for pre-order through Etisalat’s website www.etisalat.ae/iphone, starting 9 December 2012. Etisalat offers value-packed prepaid and postpaid package options on all three new iPhone 5 devices – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.
Khaled ElKhouly, Chief Marketing Officer at Etisalat, confirmed availability of the iPhone 5 in the UAE from 13 December 2012 onwards. “The new iPhone 5 has been much-awaited across the region and we understand the enthusiasm of our customers to own a piece of the action. We assure customers that the features of the iPhone 5 device, combined with Etisalat’s wide 3G network in the UAE, will provide an exceptional user experience,” said ElKhouly.
For both pre-paid and post-paid customers, the new iPhone 5 is priced at AED 2749 for 16GB, AED 3149 for 32GB and AED 3549 for 64GB devices. Starting 9 December, customers can pre-order the iPhone 5 with their choice of Etisalat’s attractive pre-paid or post-paid plans, using their credit card, by logging on to Etisalat’s website ‘www.etisalat.ae/iphone’.
Etisalat’s customers buying the new iPhone 5 will enjoy an enhanced mobile data experience offered on the nation’s widest 3G HSPA+ network. Etisalat’s HSPA+ network covers more than 99% of the country’s populated areas and supports Internet speeds of up to 42Mbps. It allows customers to enjoy speed-demanding apps such as video-streaming, networked gaming, browsing and much more.
Apple’s all new iPhone 5 has a larger display, a faster chip, ultrafast wireless technology and an 8MP iSight camera that shoots 1080p HD video. It sports a 4-inch Retina display that lets you see larger, vivid and lifelike images. With support for the latest wireless technologies, iPhone 5 connects to more networks all over the world. The all-new Apple-designed A6 chip in iPhone 5 is powerful with an outstanding battery life. Its CPU and graphic performance is twice as fast as the A5 chip.
Watch out HP and Nokia- there is a new player in town for buying music and it’s none other than Apple. The iTunes Music store has been officially launched in the UAE along with some of the other GCC countries as well such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Singles seem to be priced at AED 4.09 /4.49/4.99 while albums range from AED 17.99 to 29.99. Arabic music is present on the store from artists like Nancy Ajram, Myriam Fares and Amb Diab. English music is also present though in a much more limited range than the US store.
Apple has launched the iTunes store in the following countries around our region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, India, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Apple issued a press release earlier today outlining the arrival of their latest smartphone, the iPhone 5 to 50 countries in December. Included in those countries is the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain from the GCC. While we don’t have an official confirmation from the two local telcos Etisalat and du, it would probably be a good guess that Etisalat will be the first one to receive the new phones as it has over the past few years and du should join in soon after.
Thanks to @sharbeen for bringing this to our attention. Full press release follows:
December 3, 2012—Apple today announced iPhone® 5 will be available in South Korea on Friday, December 7, with more than 50 additional countries being added in December, including Brazil, Russia and Taiwan. iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless*—all while delivering even better battery life.**
iPhone 5 is currently available in 47 countries around the world including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the UK. iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features including: Shared Photo Streams, Facebook integration, all-new Maps app, Passbook® organization and even more Siri® features and languages.
iPhone 5 comes in either black & slate or white & silver for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model, $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model. iPhone 5 will be available through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
iPhone 4S is available for just $99 (US) and iPhone 4 is available for free with a two-year contract from participating carriers.
iPhone 5 will be available in South Korea on Friday, December 7 and on Friday, December 14 in Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. iPhone 5 will also be available on Friday, December 21 in Barbados, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Tunisia, Uganda and Vietnam.
*Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks. Check with your carrier for details.
**Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
The extremely popular cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp is supposedly in talks with Facebook to be acquired says TechCruch.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is obviously very interested in the mobile space and his surprise buy-out of Instagram last year for a billion dollars sure surprised many. Looking at it from that aspect, the buyout of WhatsApp doesn’t seem too far fetched.
Working on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone, WhatsApp had recently tweeted that they hit a new daily record with ten billion messages processed in a day- however, that figure counts inbound and outbound messages separately. Even so, six billion messages were sent using their service some time back which, no matter how you slice or dice, is an insanely large number.
The best thing about WhatsApp is that they do not populate their messages with ads and instead have a paid add for which you pay $0.99 for iOS right away or after a year on other platforms. This could work well for Facebook that has recently been receiving criticism on their ever-increasing intrusive advertising.
The smartphone landscape is going to get very interesting this upcoming year. For the last few years, RIM, Apple and Google have been the dominant players locally however Microsoft is slowly, but surely gaining traction. With the exceptional manufacturing expertise that Nokia brings to the table, we find out how far Windows Phone has come along when paired with it’s hero product- the Nokia Lumia 920.
Nokia continues to follow their recent style of packaging with the Lumia 920- a blue colored brick shaped box that showcases the phone in the multiple colors it is available in: Grey, Yellow, Red, White and Black. Inside the box, you have the SIM tray pop-out tool, a USB plug and a charging cable along with a pair of earbuds matching the color of your phone.
Build Quality and Design
I received the Lumia 920 in Yellow which was the color that caught my attention when Nokia first announced the phone. After playing with almost all the colors at different events, I can’t really make up my mind over which one looks the best as they are all very attractive and vibrant. Like some of the previous Nokia phones, the polycarbonate body that is used for the construction of the Lumia devices prevents scratches from wearing the color off.
Measuring 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm and weighing 185g, the Lumia 920 is can definitely not be classified in the thin and light category. The back side is curved with the thickest point in the center making the device feel a bit less fat in your hand, however, the chunkiness of the phone definitely weighs in your pockets. However, like any large and heavy phone, it becomes less noticeable as the days go by. On the top of the device, you can see the 3.5mm audio port along with the pop-out micros sim tray while the right side houses all the buttons- volume keys, power/lock button and a dedicated camera button. At the bottom you can find the micro USB connector as well as a pair of speakers on either side of it.
Specs and Comparison
Unlike Google, Microsoft very much controls the specs of devices that are allowed to run Windows Phone 8. What this means is that you will probably never find Windows Phone 8 running on bleeding-edge hardware like the latest quad core processors or ultra hi-res displays. However, specs only make up half the story- optimization of hardware on the OS and apps level can make lesser hardware run faster and that is an area that Microsoft has put a lot of effort in. With a UI that never dips below 60fps, Windows Phone “feels” faster than many Android phones with better configuration. Nokia has also added some cool features such as Wireless Charging and NFC tapping for pairing the phone with accessories.
The Nokia Lumia 920 sits on top of the hardware specs list that Microsoft has certified for Windows 8 and the following table compares it with the HTC 8X as well as the Android based Samsung Galaxy Note II that we recently looked at.
|Nokia Lumia 920||HTX Windows 8X||Samsung Galaxy Note II|
|Dimensions||130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm||132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1 mm||151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm|
|Screen Size||4.5″ IPS TFT ClearBlack
768 x 1280 res, 332ppi
720 x 1280 res, 342ppi
|Super AMOLED 5.5″
720 x 1280 res, 267ppi
|Processors||Qualcomm MSM8960 SnapDragon
|Qualcomm MSM8960 SnapDragon
|Max Speed||1.5GHz Dual Core||1.5GHz Dual Core||1.6GHz Quad Core|
|Storage||32GB||16GB||16/32/64GB + MicroSD|
|OS||Windows Phone 8||Windows Phone 8||Android 4.1|
|Connectivity||HSDPA 42.2 Mbps
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
|HSDPA 21 Mbps
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
|Camera||8 MP Carl Zeiss with OIS
1080p @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
|Battery||Li-Ion 2000 mAh||Li-Ion 1800 mAh||Li-Ion 3100 mAh|
|Price||AED 2349||AED 1999||AED 2499|
Screen and UI and Apps
The Nokia Lumia features a 4.5” screen with a 728 x 1280 resolution which is currently the highest resolution supported by Windows Phone. That gives it a PPI of 332 bringing it in line with the pixel density of the iPhone and higher-end Android devices. Nokia uses an IPS panel with ClearBlack display that provides for a gorgeous display with colors that pop. The screen more readable in direct sunlight so where most phones pale in the UAE sun, the Lumia continues to be very readable.
While there are a few changes to Windows Phone from v7.5, overall, the look and feel of Windows Phone 8 remains similar to its predecessors. In fact, Microsoft has adopted the same look for their Windows 8 desktop OS as well as their Xbox making it the standard for all Microsoft products for the next few years. While I won’t comment on the desktop or Xbox functionality, the modern UI looks beautiful on a phone and is very usable and innovative.
You can see the minor changes in Windows Phone 8 right from the lock screen which now allows apps to feed content to the background as well as notifications. So now you can, for example, have a sports app that updates your lock screen’s background with the score of your favorite team’s latest game. The notifications which previously only showed missed phone calls or new messages and emails can now also display alerts from apps that utilize it.
Also new is kid’s corner that basically allows for a separate home screen with it’s own theme populated with apps and games that you can select for your kids and thus not have them accidentally interfere with your apps. Parents (myself included) will certainly appreciate this as there have been times when my iPhone’s icons have vanished or rearranged because my daughters wanted to make it look nice.
Coming to the main home screen, you can see that tile sizes can be arranged between small, medium and large giving you a lot of flexibility in arranging how the tiles look and behave on Windows Phone 8. While I think folders would be a good idea to have on the home screen for better organizing of your apps and data, the smaller tiles provide a good stop-gap solution.
The biggest change is one that you will not see and that is Windows Phone has now moved to the same kernel that is used for the desktop version of Windows. While not there yet, I can see the RT version of Windows and Windows Phone 8 sharing identical code. Microsoft has also made a lot of other changes that will make programs work much better- especially when it comes to VoiP. If you have used Skype on Windows Phone 7.5, you know how awful of an experience it is but with Windows Phone 8, you’ll finally be able to receive background notifications with apps like Skype.
Microsoft has also made good progress on localization of Windows Phone with Arabic now being natively supported by the phone which will surely give Windows Phone a good boost in the region. From typing to the UI, Arabic can now be selected as your default language.
While Windows Phone provides a good set of basic apps, Nokia makes additional applications available for owners of its mobile devices. Some of the major applications include Nokia Maps and Nokia drive+ that supposedly work much better than Microsoft’s built-in navigation. I say supposedly because I haven’t tested any other Windows Phone 8 device. Though what I can tell you is that the local scout from Microsoft does not pull any restaurants or places close to me while Nokia’s City Lens app showed me a lot more about my area.
Apps also continue to be the major weakness with Windows Phone. Many of the apps that I am used to on my iPhone or Android such as Instagram or Flipboard are just not present on Windows Phone yet. I also don’t see Google providing much support in terms of apps on Windows Phone and considering how big of presence they have online, a native YouTube, Gmail or Maps app from them makes the Windows Phone feel a bit incomplete. On the other hand, if you are tied to Microsoft Office and services, then you will not find a better phone.
Nokia has labelled the camera on the Lumia 920 as part of the PureView family. Before the Lumia, the only device that featured a PureView camera was the Nokia 808 with it’s impressive 41MP sensor. While the Lumia 920 does not feature that 41MP sensor, it does have a superb 8.7 MP camera that excels at low-light and shake-free photography. It’s the first phone in the world with an optical image stabilizer that helps take clearer photos and videos.
What I do want to stress on is that although the Lumia 920 has an exceptional camera, don’t expect it to take a stellar picture every single time. Like most cameras, you will need to put in a bit of time and thought to get a really good picture and the results you will get will be better than any other phone camera in low-light conditions. Under the bright sun, the Lumia still takes very good pictures but the difference between it and, say the iPhone 5, is not highly noticeable.
Battery life turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag on Lumia 920. It features a Li-Ion 2000 mAh capacity battery that should provide you with a full work day of juice but that largely depends on how you use the phone. I’ve had days when Lumia lasted me from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed but I’ve also had days when the phone was dead by 3PM. From what I can tell, camera and GPS suck the most battery life which is a bit of a let-down considering how good of a camera is present on the Lumia and Nokia Maps work well in the region.
While I have only played along with Windows Phone 8 devices by HTC and Samsung at events, I am willing to bet that the Lumia 920 will turn out to be the best Windows Phone 8 device- the construction quality is superb and the camera is second to none when it comes to low-light photography. Windows Phone now finally supports Arabic and Windows Store has also made if to the region. Add on that the fresh UI and how beautifully it flows beautifully, Microsoft has manage to put together most of the pieces of the puzzle well.
Of course no device is perfect and the Lumia 920 has a few shortfalls. The bulky form factor and weight of the device will not make you the envy of some other newer phone users while the erratic battery life is cause of concern. App selection is also one of the weakest links of Windows Phone and unfortunately, he only solution to that is increasing the user base. I’m sure Microsoft is working over-time on that and Nokia will also continue tweaking the software on the Lumia 920 to make it the hero device that that Windows Phone is looking for.
Last month, Google officially announced their new Nexus phone. The Google Nexus device offers a pure Android experience without any interface tweaks or apps added by manufacturers such as Touchwiz from Samsung or Sense from HTC. While these added UIs add a bit of flare to Android, they also add some bloat which can slow the device down. Another advantage for Nexus devices is that they’re the first to receive an Android update from Google. Thus many consumers, myself included, prefer the Nexus as their preferred choice of phone.
The new Nexus 4 has been pretty well received in the media and the number of end-users anticipating the product has been higher than any previous Nexus device. You can see this by visiting popular Android forums such as xda-developers. Considering the resources that Google has, you would think that they would have had a smooth launch for the Nexus 4. Sadly, it was anything but that.
The device was announced by Google on the 29th of October and was put on sale on the 13th of November. The first mistake Google made was not making the device available for pre-order. This would have allowed Google to measure the demand for Nexus 4 and accordingly allocate and inform their consumers on the availability status. As a result of no pre-orders, the traffic on the Play Store on the 13th of November was extremely high causing the website to fail when consumers wanted to order the device. I tried ordering as well as for the first few times, the product would automatically disappear from my shopping cart when proceeding to checkout.
When I finally managed to get my order in, I was left in a state of guessing as to what happened. While my order was acknowledged as received by Google and the amount of my order was blocked from my bank account, I received no communication from Google for days. Eventually I had to email them and got a response that my device would be shipped within a day or two. The next morning, I got an email saying that I might not receive my device for another three weeks. Radio silence after that.
The ordering of the Nexus 4 left a bad impression of Google on myself. This is a complete opposite of an order process from Apple where the buyer is informed every step of the way. Take the iPad mini for example. During the pre-ordering phase, I could see the shipping dates change and when I was ready to order, I knew that it will be about two weeks before I get one shipped. After I placed the order I was once again reminded by Apple on the shipping dates.
While Google didn’t disclose the number of Nexus devices they sold on the first weekend, I’m pretty sure that it would be less than 3 million- the amount of orders Apple received when they started taking orders for the iPad mini and iPad 4. Apple has the consumer experience nailed. From the moment you place the order to the one your product is delivered, you are always informed and about your purchase. Google needs to learn from Apple on how to treat eager consumers as they’re the ones that are most vocal about their product.