This week in news, Apple's new iPhones still topped the list. You can now book an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, as pre-bookings have opened in India. The pre-orders are going to continue util September 29, at which point it goes on sale. The iPhone X launch will happen later, in November, but if you're not impressed by the edge-to-edge design of the X (along with the new price tag that can go beyond Rs. 1 lakh) and want a new iPhone now, then these two devices are what you're after anyway.
As is to be expected, there are a number of launch offers in place that you can take advantage of if you are buying the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus. There are discounts, buyback offers, and exchange offers, both online and offline. Online, Amazon has an exchange if up to Rs. 20,341, with an additional Rs. 10,000 for older iPhone models. Flipkart has a similar offer, with discounts up to Rs. 23,000, and an extra Rs. 3,000 for old iPhones. It's also offering 10 percent off on SBI cards, 5 percent for Axis Bank Buzz credit cards, 10 percent on PhonePe, and Rs. 10,000 on Citibank cards if you buy an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus. You can also get the buyback guarantee for Rs. 99, which will get you at least Rs. 40,000 if you exchange the phone next year.
Not to be left behind, Reliance Jio is also offering deals for the two new iPhone models. The telco has a buyback offer that you can get both online and offline, if you're pre-booking the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus. It's promising 70 percent as buyback value (excluding taxes) if you return the phone in a year, after using it on Jio. So if you get the 256GB iPhone 8 for Rs. 77,000 then the buyback value is Rs. 47,432, in vouchers that can be used within six months in Reliance Digital stores.
Despite the deals, the response to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus launch worldwide has been tepid at best. The iPhone 8 launch was greeted by thinner than usual crowds around the world, with fans perhaps holding off for the iPhone X for now. At the same time, we got confirmation that the iPhone 8, and iPhone X, really do live up to their reputation as high-end devices.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 sport a new chip, the A11 Bionic, and on popular testing software GeekBench 4, the new chip's scores are off the charts. In both multi-core and single-core tests, the phone performed significantly better than the competition. The two new iPhone models also topped the camera rankings on DxOMark. The iPhone 8 also performed impressively in durability and bend tests, but despite all this, it seems to be overshadowed by the iPhone X for now, though no one has got their hands on a X till now.
The other big event this week was the pileup of e-commerce sales, from Flipkart, Amazon, and Paytm as well as some others. Amazon's sale started from Wednesday, though Prime members got started 12 hours early at noon on Tuesday. Flipkart's sale started on Tuesday, as did Paytm's Mera Cashback sale. While Paytm's sale ended on Saturday, the other who are ending on Sunday, so there are still some good offers available right now.
At the time of writing, we found some deals that are still on, which sound pretty good. For example, you can get an iPhone 7 32GB at Rs. 38,999 via Amazon - that's still pretty great because even after the iPhone 8 launch, the iPhone 7 is priced at Rs. 49,000. There was an even bigger deal on the Samsung Galaxy S7, but that's sold out, but you can probably still get the incredible deal on Apple AirPods and the popular Redmi Note 4. You can also get a MacBook Air for Rs. 52,990 on Amazon; the same deal was on the other sites too by appears to have expired. You can also get a Google Pixel 32GB for Rs. 41,999, with additional exchange offers, or the JBL Cinema SB150 soundbar on Flipkart at Rs. 10,999.
These weren't the only offers either - Reliance Jio slashed prices for the JioFi 4G Wi-Fi hotspot by 50 percent. The hotspot is available at this discounted rate until the end of the month. Normally priced at Rs. 1,999, you can buy one now for Rs. 999. Samsung also announced a price cut on its flagship the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Galaxy S8+. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ prices have been cut by Rs. 4,000 - which should bring them down to Rs. 53,990 and Rs. 60,990 respectively. The company adds that HDFC Bank customers get a cashback of Rs. 4,000 in addition, though it insists these price cuts are temporary.
The sale was a big event for a lot of companies, and Flipkart and Xiaomi both say they broke records during the sales. According to Flipkart, it sold a record-breaking 1.3 million smartphones in the first 20 hours of the sale, with offers in handsets ranging from the iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, to name a few. But Xiaomi added to this saying that it sold more than 1 million smartphones during the first two days of the big sales. That worked out to 300 smartphones being sold by the company every single minute, which it revealed is a significant improvement over the numbers it was seeing during last year's festive sale. At that time, it took 18 days to hit the same benchmark.
The week kicked off though with the launch of Google's UPI app, Tez. Launched by Google as a standalone app, Tez is a UPI app that can be linked to your bank account, and used for payments both online and offline. This comes at a time when support for UPI has been growing - Uber added UPI payments last month, and Amazon, Netflix, and others are also reportedly working on adding the feature.
Right after its launch, Flipkart announced that its PhonePe app is in the lead among UPI apps, and says that it has 45 percent of the market. According to PhonePe, it saw 11.6 million transactions in July, at 39 percent of the market. Google meanwhile says that in the first 24 hours, it saw over 4 lakh active users on the app.
The week also saw a number of launches, starting with two new phones from Micromax - on Monday, the company announced the Micromax Bharat 3 and the Micromax Bharat 4, two affordable 4G VoLTE compatible phones. The phones are priced at Rs. 4,499 and Rs. 4,999 and have entry level specs to match, as both phones have 5-megapixel front and rear cameras, 1GB RAM, and in the case of the Bharat 4, a quad-core processor and 16GB storage. Micromax also launched the Selfie 3, with a 16-megapixel Samsung sensor in the front camera. Powered by the Snapdragon 435, the phone has 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage. The phone is priced at Rs. 11,999.
We also saw the launch of the Intex Aqua Lions 2, with 4G VoLTE support, priced at Rs. 4,599. The phone has a quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 5-megapixel front and rear cameras, and 8GB storage. Intex also launched two more phones, the Intex Aqua S1 and Intex Cloud C1, priced at Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 3,499 respectively. Gionee launched the Gionee X1s, which is priced at Rs. 12,999, and has a 4000mAh battery, along with 3GB RAM, and 16GB storage, and a 130megapixel rear and 16-megapixel front camera.
The LG Q6+ was launched in India on Wednesday. It has more RAM and inbuilt storage than the LG Q6 launched last month, and comes with the same 5.5-inch full-HD FullVision display, with 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone is priced at Rs. 17,990 in India, and has 4GB RAM, 16GB storage, and an octa-core processor. We also had the India launch of the Sony Xperia A1 Plus, a month after the global launch at IFA 2017. The phone has a 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, and a 5.5-inch HD display. It also packs a 23-megapixel rear camera, and will set you back by Rs. 24,990.
There were also a number of launches in China this week. Meizu unveiled the Meizu M6 on Wednesday. The budget smartphone is priced at CNY 699 (roughly Rs. 6,800), and it looks like a minor upgrade with pretty similar specs to last year's model. Huawei launched its mid-range Maimang 6 smartphone at CNY 2,399 (roughly Rs. 23,600). The phone has 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a large 5.9-inch HD+ display. Vivo also launched two phones in China, the Vivo X20 and X20 Plus. The Vivo X20 has been priced by the company at CNY 2,998 (roughly Rs. 29,600) while the X20 Plus comes with a price tag of CNY 3,498 (roughly Rs. 34,500).
The two phones have a dual-camera setup on the back, with a 12-megapixel primary sensor, and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor, and there's also a 12-megapixel camera on the front. The two phones have 6.01- and 6.43-inch displays respectively, running at a full HD+ resolution, and 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a 1.8GHz octa-core processor.
Beyond the launches, we also got a look at some upcoming phones this week. A Nokia 8 variant with 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage was spotted in a FCC listing. The India launch for the phone is set for next week, on September 26, though the variant launching here is expected to be the regular one with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
Huawei will be launching its Mate 10 smartphone on October 16 but renders of the phones have already been leaked, ahead of the official launch. Speaking of render leaks, we also got a look at the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, which are tipped to be manufactured by HTC and LG respectively. The pricing of the Pixel 2 has been said to start from $649 (approximately Rs. 42,100), and the Pixel 2 XL from $849 (roughly Rs. 54,600).
We also got a look at the upcoming Nokia 9 though leaked renders, showing the upcoming smartphone's bezel-less design. The handset has also been tipped to feature a glass back, and dual rear cameras. This was later confirmed by a second set of leaked renders showing a very similar design.
Disclosure: Paytm's parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.