x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hail the 'dumbphone'

it is refreshing to know that not everyone in the UAE is seduced by shiny and expensive mobile handsets.

At a time when we are bombarded daily by adverts for the latest smartphones - the biggest screen, the fastest games, the sleekest apps and, therefore, the shortest battery life - it is refreshing to know, as The National reported this week, that not everyone in the UAE is so seduced.

Indeed, it is a humble "dumbphone", the Nokia 1280, costing a mere Dh70, that is the best-selling phone in the Emirates. Users of this Nokia cannot use email, cannot play Angry Birds and cannot check the latest sports results on the go. How, we can hear users of the iPhone shout, do these people stay in touch? Quite easily, turns out to be the answer, since this phone can stay on for weeks without a charge.

It is probably true that the majority of those buying the Nokia 1280 are people on modest incomes, who mainly use the phone for talking and texting. But the dirty secret of the smartphone revolution is that, for all the thousands of apps available, most people use very few. We still talk and text each other more than we Facetime, Skype or Viber.

Indeed most users of smartphones barely know the capabilities of the device they paid hundreds of dirhams for. Perhaps that's the lesson. The best things in life may not be free, but they can be bought for a modest fee.