Welcome back to our weekly roundup of all the news that you can use from the world of tech. One of the highlights of the week was the big Flipkart sale - New Pinch Days - that's still ongoing. Flipkart had its Big Shopping Days sale running just last week, so the timing of the New Pinch Days sale is certainly a little surprising, but if you're buying new gadgets, a sale is always welcome. The biggest deals were announced earlier this week, but the sale only kicked off this Friday. The Flipkart sale included deals on mobile phones, including the Pixel 2, the Lenovo K8 Plus, and the Oppo F3 Plus. In case you haven't picked up a deal yet though, don't worry as there's still time left.
At the time of writing, some of the most attractive deals are still available, including the iPhone 8 Plus (64GB) at at Rs. 64,999 (MRP Rs. 73,000). Or you could grab a Google Pixel 2 XL for 6 percent off, at Rs. 76,999 (MRP Rs. 82,000). The iPhone 8 (64 GB) is also down to Rs. 61,999 (MRP Rs. 64,000) - a discount of 3 percent. Apart from phones, the Flipkart sale is also offering a couple of good gaming deals - you could get an Xbox One S at Rs. 28,990 (MRP Rs. 34,990), a 17 percent discount; and the MSI GV Series gaming laptop is down to Rs. 63,990 (MRP Rs. 79,990), or 20 percent off.
Meanwhile, the Xiaomi Mi A1 (review), the Chinese company's Android One smartphone, has received a permanent price cut,of Rs. 1,000. The new starting price of Rs. 13,999 is applicable on both Mi.com and Flipkart, and the latter is also offering an additional 5 percent discount if you use an Axis Bank Buzz credit card. It's also offering a no-cost EMI option, with monthly instalments of Rs. 1,556.
On the other hand, on Mi.com, buyers will get up to 200GB of additional Airtel 4G data with the handset, and MobiKwik SuperCash up to Rs. 3,000, along with Mi Protect accidental and liquid damage protection for a year at Rs. 899. The Mi A1 has a 5.5-inch full-HD, and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. There is a dual rear-camera setup, with two 12-megapixel image sensors, and a 5-megapixel front camera, along with a 3080mAh battery.
Meanwhile, Google has released its latest lightweight app for entry level devices - Google Maps Go. It's designed to work on smartphones that have less than 1GB of RAM, and provides a progressive web app version of Google Maps. The app joins other "Go" apps in the Play Store such as YouTube Go or Google Go.
As we said earlier, the app is basically just the progressive web version of Google Maps. You could access it by opening your mobile browser and going to this page as well. It offers most of the features you'd need from Google Maps such as detecting your location, directions, traffic and public transit information, and walking directions.
Meanwhile as seems to be the trend, the week saw a lot of new plans from the various telcos, so you might want to check and see if it's time to update your phone plan. But before that, the price of Airtel 4G hotspots has been slashed significantly, from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 999, bringing it in like with the JioFi from Reliance Jio. The company added that it will go on sale via Amazon India as well. The 4G hotspot allows users to connect multiple devices via Wi-Fi, and Airtel claims it can connect up to 10 devices with a battery life of six hours.
Meanwhile, Idea now has a monthly plan that's very similar to the Diwali Jio plan revision. The new Rs. 309 plan comes with a validity of 28 days, and in that time you get 1GB of 3G data per day, unlimited local and STD calls, free outgoing roaming, and 100 SMSes per day. Recharging from the Idea site or app will get you an extra 1GB, which is for the entire period; for when you exhaust each day's 1GB quota.
Not to be left behind, Vodafone also has new plans for its customers. For one, it's revising the Rs. 348 pack that it launched in August, to offer 2GB data every day, for 28 days. As usual, there are free calls and messages and roaming, though calls are capped at 250 minutes daily, and 1,000 minutes weekly.
Aside from this, Vodafone has two new packs, both with a validity of 28 days, for Rs. 179 and Rs. 176. The new Rs. 179 pack gives you unlimited data, calls, and messages. The catch is that you're restricted to 2G data, and calls have the same caps as the Rs. 348 plan. The new Rs. 176 plan - which is so far only in Chattisgarh - offers 1GB data per day, with unlimited calls on roaming, but this is also only at 2G speeds. And the calls are, once again, capped with the same limits.
We had one fairly well-anticipated launch this week, the LG V30+. The phone was first unveiled at IFA 2017, but it was launched in India this week, priced at Rs. 44,990. The phone goes on sale from Monday. It's going to be sold exclusively via Amazon India, and pre-bookings are already open. The highlights of the LG V30+ are the large FullVision (bezel-less with an 18:9 aspect ratio) display, along with dual rear-cameras, and a high-end B&O DAC, with bundled B&O Play earphones. It's also one of the few phones you can get right now with HDR10 support.
The phone has a 6-inch full-HD+ display, an octa-core Snapdragon 835 SoC, with 4GB RAM, and 128GB storage. There's a 16-megapixel sensor on the rear paired with a 13-megapixel wide-angle sensor. On the front, it has a 5-megapixel camera. The phone packs a 3300mAh battery.
OnePlus launched the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition at an event in India, in time for the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In case you were hoping for anything special form this special edition, you're going to be disappointed. What you get is a new, white back panel, a red-coloured alert slider, and a black case that looks a little like Kylo Ren's helmet. There are also a bunch of preloaded Star Wars wallpapers, and that's it.
The phone itself is the same as the OnePlus 5T (review), except it will only be available in the 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant. That means that you get the 6.01-inch full-HD+ display, with a 2.45GHz octa-core CPU, with a 20-megapixel and 16-megapixel dual-rear camera setup, and a 16-megapixel front camera. It has got a 3300mAh battery, and as we noted in our OnePlus 5T review, the phone delivers great battery life and good performance alongside a large and bright display, although photo quality in daylight is quite disappointing.
In other launches, there was the Intex Elyt E6, which packs a large 4000mAh battery, and is priced at just Rs. 6,999. The phone has a 5-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB storage. The dual-SIM phone supports 4G, and it has a 13-megapixel rear camera, along with an 8-megapixel front camera. The phone is being sold exclusively on Flipkart.
The Panasonic Eluga I9 launched this week priced at Rs. 7,499. The budget-friendly phone went on sale on Friday, exclusively on Flipkart. It features the company's virtual assistant Arbo, and has a 5-inch HD display. It has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, with 3GB RAM, and 32GB on-board storage. The phone has a 13-megapixel rear-camera, and a 5-megapixel front camera, along with a 2500mAh battery.
There were also a couple of cool accessories launched this week. Misfit launched its first touchscreen smartwatch - the Misfit Vapor with Android Wear 2.0 - in the Indian market on Wednesday. Priced at Rs. 14,495, it's available via Flipkart, while it was originally unveiled at CES in January 2017, and is available in the US for $199 (roughly Rs. 12,800). Bragi, a German technology company popular for its Dash truly wireless earphones, has launched its products in India through online retailers like The Headphone Zone. It is bringing two products, the Dash Pro and The Headphone, to India priced at Rs. 27,999 and Rs. 12,999 respectively.
We also saw some interesting rumours this week, particularly around the Samsung Galaxy S9. It's now looking increasingly likely that we'll see the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ only in February, as part of Samsung's usual MWC reveal in Barcelona. The new development is in line with the the recent reported dismissal of a sneak peek at CES. Some recent reports state that the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ both will have "nearly identical" aesthetics of their predecessors - with Super AMOLED "Infinity" display panels in 5.8- and 6.2-inch sizes, respectively.
Further, the new Galaxy series flagships are reported to have an improved iris scanner that would take on Apple's Face ID, which is available on the iPhone X. There was also a set of renders suggesting the build of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ that surfaced online this week. The render showed a rear-facing fingerprint scanner - below a single, primary camera sensor, similar to the Galaxy S8.
Apart from that, we also got an early look at the Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and the Galaxy A8+ (2018), thanks to a user manual that got released early. It appears from the manual that both the new Galaxy A8 models will have identical builds and a bezel-less Infinity Display, with the fingerprint scanner on the back. All these models are likely to be showcased at CES in January.
Meanwhile, HMD Global's Nokia portfolio seems set to grow. The rumoured Nokia 6 (2018) and Nokia 9 smartphones have reportedly reached China's 3C (China Compulsory Certification). A couple of new Nokia smartphones with model number TA-1062 and TA-1077 have also surfaced on a Chinese certification site. The 3C certification of the Nokia 9 and Nokia 6 (2018) doesn't reveal any details on the part of its specifications. However, it confirms that the handsets will soon be exported from China.
And the final news of note this week? Days after Synaptics announced the mass production of its in-display fingerprint sensor, Chinese firm Vivo has revealed that it's going to be using this technology. This will allow it to embed the fingerprint sensor under the display, rather than having to either create dead-space on the face, or push it to the back of the device like many new smartphones do. It's something we've been waiting for smartphone makers to start adopting, and expect to see many more similar announcements in 2018.