Realme X2 Pro and Realme 5s India launch dominated this week in tech news. Vivo also revealed the pricing and availability details of the Vivo U20 phone. Xiaomi released a new variant of the Redmi Note 8 Pro in China. Additionally, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio revealed that they will be increasing the tariffs in the coming month as the telecom companies struggle financially. Read on for more details on these news items as well as other major technology news stories of the week.
After weeks of teasers, Realme launched its flagship Realme X2 Pro smartphone in the country this week. It is the first high-end smartphone from the company and carries a starting price tag of Rs. 29,999 for the 8GB + 128GB model, whereas its 12GB + 256GB model will retail at Rs. 33,999. At this pricing, the phone will be going head to head with the likes of Redmi K20 Pro, OnePlus 7, and host of other phones.
Realme X2 Pro was first launched in China last month and comes with features like a 6.5-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED 90Hz display and Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ octa-core processor. Additionally, Realme has included an in-display fingerprint sensor, 4,000mAh battery with support for 50W fast charging, vapour cooling, and up to 256GB of onboard storage.
In terms of the imaging capabilities, Realme X2 Pro includes a quad camera setup on the back that houses a 64-megapixel primary shooter, a 13-megapixel telephoto camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. There is a 16-megapixel selfie shooter on the front as well, as a part of a waterdrop-style notch.
Realme 5s launch was kind of a surprise that the company itself spoiled a week before the launch of the phone. It is a slightly upgraded version of the Realme 5 that arrived in the country earlier this year. While Realme 5s improves on the camera front, rest of the specifications of the phone are exactly the same as Realme 5. Basically, Realme has upgraded the primary shooter to 48-megapixel from the 12-megapixel shooter in the Realme 5.
According to Realme, the Realme 5s will retail starting at Rs. 9,999 for the 4GB + 64GB model, whereas the 4GB + 128GB version carries a price tag of Rs. 10,999. The Realme 5s first sale is scheduled for next week. It will be offered in Crystal Blue, Crystal Purple, and Crystal Red colours via Flipkart and Realme.com. The company also plans to offer its via offline stores on the later date.
Realme 5s features a 6.5-inch HD+ screen, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, and a 5,000mAh battery. The phone also packs a quad rear camera setup that includes a 48-megapixel primary shooter, an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor for portraits. Realme 5s also packs a 13-megapixel selfie camera and a rear fingerprint sensor.
Chinese smartphone maker Vivo on Friday launched its new Vivo U20 smartphone in the country. It is a rebranded version of the Vivo U3 that was released in China last month and will succeed the company's Vivo U10. Vivo U20 is an entry level smartphone and carries a price tag of Rs. 10,990 for the base 4GB + 64GB variant, whereas the phone's 6GB + 64GB variant has been priced at Rs. 11,990. The company will start selling the phone beginning next week via Amazon and Vivo e-store.
Vivo U20 features a 6.53-inch full-HD+ display and is powered by octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC. It also comes with a 5,000mAh battery that support 18W fast charging. Additionally, Vivo has included a triple rear camera setup on the phone that includes a 16-megapixel main shooter, an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. There is a 16-megapixel camera for selfies as well.
On the software front, Vivo U20 runs on Android 9 Pie-based FunTouch OS 9 and includes Widevine L1 certification that will allow the consumers play high-resolution video content on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The usual connectivity options and sensors are also present in the phone, including a rear fingerprint sensor.
After three years of cheap mobile plans, the telecom operators in India are getting ready to announce the first price hike and it seems like a major one. Following record losses and Supreme Court's AGR ruling, Vodafone Idea and Airtel have decided that it is enough and the rock-bottom prices are unsustainable for business. While Vodafone Idea was the first to announce that it will raise prices beginning December 1, it was soon joined by Airtel and Reliance Jio announcing a similar timeline for tariff hike.
None of the telecom operators have revealed the new tariffs at this point, however, with December just a week away, we won't have to wait for long. Vodafone Idea had earlier posted a loss of Rs. 50,921 crores -- the highest-ever quarterly loss by any corporate in India. Similarly, Bharti Airtel reported loss to the tune of Rs. 23,045 crores.
It will be interesting to see how big a price hike Reliance Jio announces, given the telecom operator has been responsible to bring the era of ultra-cheap mobile and data plans. With hundreds of million subscribers under its umbrella, Jio may surprise everyone with a significant increase, and with similarly high prices on other telecom operators, Jio's subscribers won't have anywhere to go.
In other smartphone news, Samsung launched a slightly upgraded version of its Galaxy Fold as Samsung W20 5G in the Chinese market. The company already sells the 4G variant of the Galaxy Fold in the country. The phone will be offered in partnership with China Telecom in the country and Samsung is yet to say anything on its international release. There is no word on the final pricing or exact availability details at this point, however, we do know that it will go on sale next month.
Samsung W20 5G uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855+ SoC, instead of the Snapdragon 855 present in the Galaxy Fold. The company has also included a new paintjob – White. Other specifications of the W20 5G are exactly the same as original Galaxy Fold. You will get two displays, including the 7.3-inch flexible AMOLED screen. Additionally, there are a total of six cameras on board as well as two batteries.
Xiaomi had added a new storage variant for the Redmi Note 8 Pro smartphone in its home market. The new 8GB + 256GB model will join the already available 6GB + 64GB, 6GB + 128GB, and 8GB + 128GB variants. The company has priced the 8GB + 256GB model at CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 19,000) and it can already be purchased in China. There is no word on the China release at this point.
In terms of the specifications, the new storage variant of the Redmi Note 8 Pro is exactly the same as other versions, except on the RAM and storage front. The phone packs a 6.53-inch full-HD+ display, MediaTek Helio G90T SoC, and 4,500mAh battery. Additionally, there is a quad rear camera setup that is headlined by a 64-megapixel primary shooter as well as 20-megapixel selfie shooter on board.
Apart from launching the Vivo U20 in the India market this week, the smartphone maker also introduced a global variant of the S1 Pro in the Philippines market. It is quite different from the version launched in China earlier this year. The Vivo S1 Pro global variant is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, and comes with 4,500mAh battery, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage.
Vivo Y19 is the latest mid-range Vivo phone to make its India debut. The phone carries a price tag of Rs. 13,990 for the lone 4GB + 128GB model and can now be purchased via various online and offline retailers in the country. Vivo Y19 features a 6.53-inch full-HD+ display, octa-core MediaTek Helio P65 SoC, a triple rear camera setup, and 5,000mAh battery that supports 18W Dual-Engine fast charging.
In a conversation with Gadgets 360, Realme's India CEO Madhav Sheth revealed that the company is planning to bring an offline-centric smartphone series to the country next year. This smartphone series will initially be offered via brick-and-mortar stores, followed by an online release. Sheth didn't offer any details on exactly what we can expect, however he did note that the phones as a part of this lineup will be offered across price segments.
In other telecom news, BSNL has launched a new prepaid plan for Rs. 998. The new plan comes with 2GB of high-speed data per day and carries a validity of 240 days, except in Kerala telecom circle where it seems to have 210 days validity. Additionally, for a limited period, the consumers buying this data recharge will get two-month extra validity over the 240 days period, taking the total validity to 300 days.
The state-run telecom operator has also revised the validity of the Rs. 1,188 prepaid recharge plan. The recharge now comes with 365 days validity, instead of 345 days earlier. The change is only valid until January 16, 2020, following which the plan will revert to 345 days validity. The plan benefits remain unchanged and the customers will receive 250 minutes of voice calling per day to any network. Also, the plan carries 5GB data and 1,200 SMS messages throughout the validity.
Facebook released a new version of WhatsApp beta for iPhone this week and it included some interesting changes. Carrying the version number 188.8.131.52, the new WhatsApp beta for iPhone showed indications that Facebook Pay integration is coming to WhatsApp. Facebook Pay was officially unveiled earlier this month and is initially rolling out in the US. Additionally, the new WhatsApp version showed hints of the upcoming Blocked Contact notice feature. This feature will show a notice in the chat box when you have blocked or unblocked a contact.
Xiaomi launched a new smart band for the Indian consumers this week. Dubbed as Mi Band 3i, the new smart band touts 20-day battery life and comes with a 0.78-inch monochrome display that will aid with the battery life of the device. The Mi Band 3i has been priced at Rs. 1,299 and is already available in the country via Mi.com. The Xiaomi smart band supports vibrating alarm, call display / rejection, message notifications, idle alert, phone locator, app notifications (WhatsApp, Instagram, and others), event reminders, and more. The Mi Band 3i can also track daily activity and sleep progress.
Xiaomi also introduced an ebook reader this week, however, it is only available in the Chinese market right now. The e-reader is called Mi Reader and will be initially offered via the company's crowdfunding platform. Mi Reader is priced at CNY 579 (roughly Rs. 5,900) for crowdfunding buyers, but the final price of the e-reader will be CNY 599 (roughly Rs. 6,100). The Mi Reader features a 6-inch HD e-ink display and is compatible with multiple file formats such as TXT, EPUD, PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT, and the whole suite of compatible WPS and Microsoft Office content. It also allows users to import their ebook library from the cloud and seamlessly switch between reading on their phone to the Mi Reader.
Oppo took the wraps off its ColorOS 7 platform this week. Based on Android 10, the ColorOS 7 includes a modern user interface that is cleaner. It also brings the option to customise app icons, including shape, size, and font, and packs a system-wide dark mode and improved Camera app. Further, ColorOS 7 includes Soloop video editing app, a new Breeno voice assistant, hyperboost for better gaming experience, and optimised power saving features that claims to increase the battery life by 10 percent during daily use. It will start rolling out to Oppo phones this month in China. Realme phones will get a tweaked version beginning February next year.
Lastly, YouTube introduced prepaid plans for YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium memberships in India. The prepaid plans can be purchased for one-month duration or three-month duration and can be recharged for same duration. While the prepaid plan for YouTube Premium is available at Rs. 139 for a month and Rs. 399 for three months, YouTube Music Premium can be purchased on a prepaid basis at Rs. 109 for a month and Rs. 309 for three months.
Is Realme X2 Pro the OnePlus 7T killer you've been waiting for? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.