Consuming Issues: New handsets take a bite out of Apple's iPhone

Several years ago, a phone company boss proudly showed me Britain's first mobile phone with internet access. I was surprised by just how bad it was: a tiny screen, incredibly slow downloads and an inferior, stripped-down version of a web page. When Apple's chief executive, Steve Jobs, stood up at the Macworld exhibition in the US in 2007 to launch the iPhone with pizzazz, mobile communications – how we interact with friends, relatives, employers, companies and government – changed for ever.

Since then, iPhones have become the gadget of choice for the trendy well-off, a device for flaunting one's modernity and connected-ness, despite its often mediocre reception. Media coverage has, generally, been fawning and excitable. But the simple fact is that, despite the iPhone's functionality and style, it has only ever been a small part of the UK mobile market and most handsets are still basic models costing £100 or less.

Figures from the research group Nielsen show that in the second quarter of 2010, Nokia had the largest market share; one in three UK mobile phones is made by the Finnish company. Next is Samsung (20 per cent) and Sony Ericsson (16 per cent), then Apple and Korea's LG, both on 6 per cent.

Apple's popularity is likely to continue to grow as more people buy smartphones which, like its versatile invention, can display the web, take pictures and play music. Last year, one in seven UK phones (14 per cent) was a smartphone; now the figure 27 per cent. Nokia is still the biggest player in smartphones, with 38 per cent against Apple's 27 per cent. BlackBerry, once the only practical way to access emails on the go, has 17 per cent, ahead of Taiwan's HTC.

What do all these figures mean? Not much on their own perhaps, but they do illustrate there are many alternatives out there to buying a £499 iPhone. Apple's two biggest handset rivals are about to launch new products. Nokia, whose web-enabled phones have tended to have small screens and physical keyboards and retail for around £200, will start selling the N8 for £429 later this month. Next month, BlackBerry launches its £480 Torch 9800.

Several devices with iPhone-like dimensions and functionality are already on sale. At £449, the Samsung Galaxy is a neat piece of kit with Apple's sleekness and ease of use. HTC's £429 Desire has also garnered good reviews, as has the Motorola Milestone XT720 which is keenly-priced at £350. These devices are really iPhones in all but name and price, except they use Google's Android operating system. Unlike Apple's OS system, handset-makers are free to use Android, meaning it is likely to become hugely important for "apps" – the downloadable software that furnishes phones with extra functions, some merely amusing, others highly practical. Nielsen's figures show that in the second quarter of 2010, 4 per cent of UK smartphones ran on Android, but it is growing and – because its phones are cheaper – it may eventually eclipse OS, in the same way that JVC's VHS videos triumped over Sony's Betamax.

If you have an old, un-smart phone is it worth buying a new one? Until the iPhone, new phones offered little more than cosmetic improvements to their 10-year-old forerunners. But smartphones are different; they are not really mobile phones at all, but mobile computers. You can already do a vast range of things with them: email, hold video conferences, book films, restaurants and concerts, run a bank account, even bet on a horse on the 3.45 at Kempton.

They are likely to change our lives in a way most of us are only just beginning to understand.

Heroes and villains: Spreading a little sunshine for home-owners

Hero: HomeSun

So, this is the deal: a firm called HomeSun will install solar panels on your roof, providing it's south-facing, unshaded and a minimum of 30 square metres; in return it will snaffle government grants for the next 25 years. Some complain that home-owners will miss out on the grant money, but their fuel bills will fall. What's not to like?

Villain: EDF Energy

EDF has put up its standard electricity tariffs in 11 of 14 regions. The changes, affecting 1.2 million people, mean electricity bills rise from £429 to £438 and dual-fuel bills from £1,159 to £1,167. Price rises are not necessarily bad, unless EDF has not fully passed on falls in wholesale electricity costs ... as many commentators suspect.

m.hickman@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Quantitative Risk Manager

    Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

    COO / Chief Operating Officer

    £80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments