x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Test drive: iPhone

Now that the iPhone is (legally) available through Etisalat both for prepaid and postpaid plans, we asked two people to test drive Apple's most-hyped product yet.

Now that the iPhone is (legally) available through Etisalat both for prepaid and postpaid plans, we asked two people to test drive Apple's most-hyped product yet. What I tried: To phone my friends, listen to music, surf the internet and play Monkey Ball. What I expected: My phone is a standard Nokia, a source of endless hilarity among my colleagues, who think I am living in the Stone Age. It's so unfashionable that when I left it in a Dubai taxi, the driver offered to bring it back to Abu Dhabi for me rather than risk someone thinking it was his. I was looking forward to effortless touch screen thrills from the iPhone, and the respect of my colleagues.

What I found: Endless hours of entertainment. It's so simple that an eight-year-old could use it. In fact, an eight-year-old did use it most of the time. My youngest daughter took command, taking photos, playing on Facebook and generally having a jolly time. I managed to get it out of her sticky fingers from time to time and found it quite splendid. It meant I could check my e-mails from the golf course. Internet coverage was good and I had no problems getting a signal. The only drawback was the keypad when trying to type a message. The thing is clearly designed for eight-year-old fingers.

The final verdict: If Keats were alive today, I don't think he would be wasting his time writing odes about Grecian urns and nightingales. The iPhone is a thing of beauty and a joy forever; what's more, it sings like Angela Gheorgiu, Cecilia Bartoli or Bob Dylan, depending on my mood. The only drawback is that my wife said she would divorce me unless I gave it to her. This is a pity, because I will miss her. Rupert Wright

What I tried: To access e-mail and internet, to store my music and podcasts and to make it a personal organiser to help rid my life of Post-it notes and business cards. What I expected: A replacement for my not-so-old mobile phone (which was inadvertently thrown away - don't ask). And to see what all the fuss was about. Not to mention a better deal on phone and internet rates. What I found: After submitting three payslips and photo-copies of my passport to the Etisalat desk at the Virgin Megastore, they were happy to sell me an 8G iPhone with my existing number. However, since my previous phone was prepaid and I didn't have an Etisalat account, or proof of address on me, I couldn't sign up for the package I wanted (Dh849 up front and Dh349 per month) and instead had to fork out Dh2,646, but with smaller monthly payments of Dh199. This includes 125 minutes per month, 125 texts and 500mb of 3G use. Overall, all postpaid packages work out the same over a year.

As for the phone itself, it is a typical user-friendly Apple device, with just one or two missing features and a few snags. To download applications, even free ones such as Facebook or TwitFon (to access a Twitter account), you need the iTunes store, which is unavailable in UAE. Fortunately, I have a UK account. Other annoyances include: sending text messages on the tiny digital keyboard made me feel I had sausages for fingers (thank goodness for the superlative predictive text feature), and the fact that, for no apparent reason, the Facebook and TwitFon applications stopped working - fixed only when I deleted and downloaded them again. Plus, like millions of other users, I was frustrated by the lack of a cut, copy feature, which allows you to paste content between pages. (Apple has acknowledged this oversight and it will be available sometime soon.) I also had few teething problems with the internet access, which I only managed to rectify when, buried inside the online-only user manual, I was told in an elaborate manner to try switching it off and on again. I did, and it worked.

The final verdict: Ignoring the cachet and despite the unexpectedly large initial outlay, this thing is great. I have cut my monthly phone and internet costs, with the added bonus that I can access work e-mails wherever I am. And the fantastic Google street map application, which comes as standard, is indispensable. In fact, this thing covers all my needs in such a simple yet sophisticated way, I don't know what I did before it and will try not to throw this one away. Still feeling self-conscious about my sausage fingers, though.

Helen McLaughlin

The one thing we hate about electrical equipment is when it fails to work when we get home. We bought a Philips flat-screen TV and found we couldn't hear a word anyone said. Cue Gregory, the serviceman. He came along, on time and even on the right day, pressed all sorts of buttons and after 10 minutes the sound was much better. Two days later he phoned. Was he after a date? No, he was calling to say there was another button we could press to make the sound even clearer. We followed his instructions and now Dr McDreamy is even more succinct than before.


Just in case you didn't already know: the UAE has the biggest carbon footprint per capita in the world. That's a problem and Heroes of the UAE is trying to fix it. The website - a joint programme between the Emirates Wildlife Society, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi - allows households to calculate their carbon footprint and how much money they could save by changing some habits. We asked a friend to bring in her electricity bill to see what type of savings are available. She lives in a 10-bedroom villa with nine people. Her electricity bill for one month was Dh618. According to the site, her home emits 42 tonnes of CO2 a year. But, by following a couple of simple eco tips, the website said she could save Dh2,436 a year in electricity costs and reduce the villa's carbon footprint to 13.7 tonnes. Here's what it told her to do: ? Increase room temperature by two degrees ? Replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient ones ? Take quick showers instead of baths ? Unplug electronics when not in use ? Wash clothes at 30 degrees ? Use dishwasher on economy setting

If you're having problems with a stubborn zip that keeps catching, try rubbing some lipgloss or lip balm on it. This is useful with a wallet that refuses to open while trying TO pay a bill.