It's been a big week in the world of tech, with one of the most anticipated launch events of the year - Apple's annual iPhone launch. On Tuesday at the new Apple campus in San Jose, the company rolled out three new phones, the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X. The first two phones share the established iPhone design with the home button and the (relatively) thick bezels on the sides. The new flagship, the iPhone X, brings in a new design, losing the home button and relying on a new system called Face ID, which uses a number of technologies, both hardware and software, to carry out facial recognition to unlock the phone.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will release in India on September 29. Both models will be available in 64GB and 256GB variants. The iPhone 8 starts at Rs. 64,000, while the bigger iPhone 8 Plus will set you back by Rs. 73,000; the 256GB variants are Rs. 13,000 more expensive, at Rs. 77,000 and Rs. 86,000, respectively. The iPhone X on the other hand will be releasing in India on November 3, and will start at Rs. 89,000. The 256GB variant of the iPhone X, priced at Rs. 1,02,000, will be the most expensive mainstream phone in India yet. The price of the iPhone models is almost 40 percent higher than in the US, although of course the US pricing doesn't include taxes, which varies from state to state.
In terms of hardware, the biggest change for all three phones is the new chipset, the A11 Bionic. This has six core processors, and an improved GPU that is 30 percent more efficient than last year's model, the company says. The iPhone 8 has a 12-megapixel rear camera, while the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X have a dual 12-megapixel rear camera setup. The iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch display, while the 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch display. Thanks to its new design, the iPhone X sits between the other two models in size, despite having the largest display of the lot, at 5.8-inches. It's also the first Apple phone with an OLED display.
At the launch of the new iPhone, Apple also showcased its augmented reality system, ARKit in action. The company also showed a game powered by ARKit, called The Machines. Players can move the phone around to see different views of the game. The same front camera that powers Face ID can also be used for augmented reality, with animated emojis, called Animoji, being an example. You can record your facial expressions and map those to cartoon characters, to send in messages.
The wasn't the only big announcement from Apple either - the company also announced that the price of its earlier models has been cut in India. The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus have all gotten a little cheaper in India. The iPhone 7 starting price has gone from Rs. 56,200 to Rs. 49,000, while the iPhone 7 Plus has gone from Rs. 67,300 to Rs. Rs. 59,000. Similarly, the iPhone 6s stated at Rs. 46,900, and is now Rs. 40,000, while the iPhone 6s Plus has gone from Rs. 56,100 to Rs. 49,000. However, the iPad Pros are now more expensive - the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) now starts at Rs. 76,200 (up from Rs. 70,900), and the iPad Pro (10.5) starts at Rs. 63,500 (up from Rs. 58,300.
On the same day that Apple launched the new iPhones, Samsung also held a launch event - the India launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. This is a part of a global rollout to 42 countries. The phone is now up for pre-orders in India, and will start shipping from September 21 at Rs. 67,900. The smartphone will be sold online via Amazon India, Samsung's online store, as well as select offline Samsung stores.
The phone has a 6.3-inch bezel-less display, at a QHD resolution, and packs features such as an iris scanner for authentication, along with Samsung's S-Pen stylus. The phone's powered by a Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC (four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz), or a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC in US, and 6GB RAM. The phone has a dual-rear camera setup with two 12-megapixel sensors, and 64GB storage.
Aside from the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, there was one more phone with an edge-to-edge display launched this week, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. The successor to the Mi Mix - the phone that really helped kickstart the "bezel-less" trend - the Mi Mix 2 is going to get a wider release, and will be coming to India "soon", the company said. Like the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the Mi Mix 2 also includes facial recognition features. The phone has been priced at CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs. 32,300) for its 6GB RAM/ 64GB, which makes it the most affordable option among the three. There are two more storage variants, and also the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Special Edition, with a full ceramic body, priced at CNY 4,699 (roughly Rs. 46,000), with 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage.
The dual-SIM phone has a 5.99-inch display running at full-HD, at an 18:9 aspect ratio. It's powered by a Snapdragon 835, and 6GB RAM (though there's the Special Edition with 8GB system memory as mentioned above), and there's a 12-megapixel camera on the rear. On the front is a 5-megapixel camera that's also used for facial recognition. Storage variants go from 64GB to 256GB, and it comes with a 3,400mAh battery.
Apart from this, Xiaomi also launched the Mi Note 3, which has a 5.5-inch full-HD display, a hexa-core processor, 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, a 12-megapixel camera on the rear and a 16-megapixel front camera. For now, the phone has only been launched in China, priced at CNY 2,499 (roughly Rs. 24,500) for the 6GB/ 64GB variants, and CNY 2,899 (roughly Rs. 28,300) for 6GB/ 128GB. At the same time, in India, the Xiaomi Mi A1, the Android One phone, went on sale this week priced at Rs. 14,999.
Aside from these launches, there were a number of other interesting developments during this week. Chinese giant Vivo launched the Vivo V7+, and the phone went on sale on Friday. The phone has a 5.99-inch HD display, with a 24-megapixel front camera, and a 16-megapixel rear camera. It has 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage, and is priced at Rs. 21,990. We also got the launch of the Kult Gladiator, with a 4000mAh battery, 5.5-inch display, at Rs. 6,999. The phone is an Amazon-exclusive, and is powered by a 1.25GHz quad-core processor with 3GB RAM, and 32GB of storage.
Asus launched the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie and ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro phones in India, a little after a month of their global unveiling. The Asus smartphones will be available exclusively on Flipkart, and will go on sale on September 21, the first day of the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale, with prices starting from 14,999. Micromax subsidiary Yu launched the Yu Yureka 2, priced at Rs. 11,999, and the phone is powered by a Snapdragon 625 SoC, 4GB RAM, and has 16-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera, and a 3930mAh battery.
At a time when WhatsApp is opening up to businesses, the company's co-founder Brian Acton announced that he's leaving the company to start a non-profit organisation "at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications." Acton announced his departure from WhatsApp via a Facebook post, roughly three years after WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 in a $22 billion cash and stock deal. His net worth, courtesy the WhatsApp-Facebook deal, stands at $6.5 billion, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, WhatsApp is also testing a "delete for everyone" feature on Android and iOS according to reports.
Meanwhile, both Flipkart and Amazon are holding their big e-commerce sales next week. Flipkart's sale is on from September 20 and September 24, which had been announced earlier, and Amazon announced that it will hold its sale from September 21 to September 24. Prime members will get access to the sale from September 20, so the two sales will be running head to head.
Flipkart announced some sales deals across a wide selection of budget smartphones, with brands like Moto, Samsung, Xolo, Swipe, Asus, Micromax, iVoomi and Sansui. Amazon on the other hand hasn't named specific deals, but says that there will be 40,000 offers across 4 days. Cameras, PC accessories, and mobile accessories appear to be some of the categories with the biggest discounts, according to Amazon.
In telecom, we had a couple of interesting announcements as well; Airtel launched its 4G VoLTE network, joining Reliance Jio in offering the feature. Currently, Airtel is only offering 4G VoLTE in Mumbai, and users can still fall back on 3G and 2G for data and calls where 4G is not available, unlike Jio which only uses 4G.
Vodafone also had an interesting announcement this week, as it launched unlimited calling and data plans for 18 countries. This will be very useful for international travellers, as typically international roaming can work out to be extremely expensive. With the new plan, you can make unlimited calls across the US, UK, and Europe for Rs. 180 per day. The plan is for a total of 18 countries, and there is a plan for Rs. 5,000 for 28 days as well.