x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Difficult to make a smart phone choice

The Life: Is it finally time to upgrade that old mobile with a slicker device? A slew of new smartphones are set to hit the market, and we compare some of the contenders.

The BlackBerry Curve 9380. Photo by Research in Motion
The BlackBerry Curve 9380. Photo by Research in Motion

To upgrade or not to upgrade? That is the question many mobile phone owners are considering.

Including me - after my BlackBerry Torch 9800 recently tumbled on to concrete resulting in an array of fresh scars as proof.

But a slew of new smartphones are hitting electronics shops in the UAE, making it increasingly difficult to home in on the "best" one.

For work purposes, the BlackBerry used to be tops. Lately, however, its maker Research in Motion (RIM) has suffered a number of setbacks including service blackouts and lacklustre designs.

The BlackBerry Curve 9380, which launched in the UAE last month and is selling for Dh1,399 (US$380.86) at some local retailers, is the first Curve to feature a touch display.

It is certainly more pocket-friendly than the Torch, being both slimmer and lighter. It also includes a lock at the top edge of the phone, unlike the Torch that had it on a corner where when slipped into a pocket it would occasionally unlock and make random calls.

While great for surfing the Web, the Curve's touchscreen is tricky to use - with these fingers, anyway - compared with BlackBerrys that feature a traditional Qwerty keyboard. For some, including me, that is a deal breaker.

The new Acer Allegro, released this month for Dh1,699, is easier to type on its touchscreen. It claims to be the first smartphone in the Middle East to run on the latest Windows Phone software with basic Arabic support, and clearly displays boxed titles to access programmes such as Facebook, a music player and XBox Live, for virtual gaming.

As slick as the phone's software runs, it still seems a little early to jump at this device - especially considering many forthcoming models have been announced this month.

It will take weeks, and more likely months, for them to debut in the Emirates. So for now, the search for the perfect replacement mobile continues.