Welcome back to our weekly roundup of all the tech news that you can use. In a move that was announced a little while ago, Reliance Jio has finally announced new plans, reducing the validity of some popular packs and raising the rates on other plans. It's been something that a lot of people have expected for a while now, and the announcement from Reliance Jio came with Diwali this year. The big change is that the Rs. 399 Jio pack benefits will now be priced at Rs. 459. This includes the free calls and SMS of course, and apart from that, you get 1GB of data per day for 84 days. And of course, you get access to Reliance Jio's apps such as Jio Cinema and Jio Music.
Rs. 399 recharge will still give you the same data access as before, but its validity has gone down from 84 days to 70 days, so the pricing is in line with the new Rs. 459 plan. Reliance Jio has also reduced the validity of the Rs. 509 recharge pack, which gives you 2GB data daily - earlier, the plan had 56 days validity, and now it has 49 days validity.
Jio's new prepaid plans now start from Rs. 52 for one week's validity and a total of 1.05GB data capped to 150MB a day, and go up to Rs. 4,999 which gets you 360 days validity, and 350GB data, with no daily cap. There's also a Rs. 19 pack that gives you 150MB data for a day. Postpaid plans start from Rs. 309 per month, with a security deposit of Rs. 400, offering 1GB data daily and go up to Rs. 999 per month with a Rs. 1,150 deposit, offering 60GB data with no daily limits.
This week also saw the launch of BSNL and Micromax's answer to the Jio Phone, the Micromax Bharat-1. Priced at Rs. 2,200, the basic handset supports 4G VoLTE for calls, and BSNL also has a number of deals for cheap calls, bringing the effective cost of ownership even lower than the Jio Phone, over a three-year period. The BSNL phone is not the only low-cost mobile vying to become "Bharat ka smartphone" though - the competition also includes the recently unveiled Karbonn A40 Indian Android smartphone launched in partnership with Airtel, priced at Rs. 3,499, but with an "effective price" of Rs. 1,399.
The BSNL Micromax Bharat 1 phone comes with a number of apps preinstalled, including a custom build of Opera Mini, and YouTube. Using the Web, or watching videos is serviceable and while the camera quality is disappointing, the phone is definitely usable. For the right audience, the phone could well be a great purchase. The Jio Phone has some unique features such as the HelloJio voice assistant, an App Store, and the phone to TV media cable. But the Bharat 1 has most of the other features of the Jio Phone, and doesn't require you to stick to a network or a plan, which could tip the scales in its favour.
Meanwhile, we also got an interesting new update from WhatsApp - the messaging platform now allows you to share your "live" location with other users. Whether you're on your way home and want your family to have an easy way to track your progress, or you're hosting a party and want your friends to show an update on when they're arriving, this feature could come in very handy. The feature is already live, but it's being rolled out to users on both Android and iOS in a staggered manner, so you might have to wait a little before you can use it.
It works in both private conversations and in group chats, and is easy to use. It's fully opt-in, and you can't just turn it on and leave it like that - you can share your location for 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 8 hours. WhatsApp isn't the first messenger service to allow live location sharing, with others such as Telegram, Messenger from Facebook, and Apple's default messaging app iMessage all including the feature already, but given its popularity in India, WhatsApp's Live Location sharing is likely to be more impactful on this platform.
We also got the China launch of the Nokia 7 this week. Like its bigger sibling the flagship Nokia 8 (review), the Nokia 7 also coms with the "bothie" camera feature that takes photos from the front and rear cameras simultaneously. It shares a few other features with the flagship, and comes in at half the price. The phone has been launched at CNY 2,499, or roughly Rs. 25,000 for the 4GB variant, and CNY 2,699, or roughly Rs. 26,500 for the 6GB variant.
The Nokia 7 has a 5.2-inch full-HD display, and a 1.8GHz octa-core processor, along with 64GB storage, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a single 16-megapixel rear camera, along with a 3000mAh battery. The phone uses a USB Type-C port, and supports NFC, and as is to be expected, comes with a fingerprint scanner.
Another launch that drew a fair amount of interest this week was the ZTE Axon M - a foldable smartphone with dual full-HD displays. Launched in the US, the phone will also be made available in China, Europe, and Japan, and disappointingly, it doesn't bear a single display that can be folded over. Instead, there are two displays, connected via a hinge, so you can either have a phone with a display on the front and back, or you can open up the phone to have on big screen, with a hinge running through the middle.
You can mirror the display to both screens when folded, or extend the display when opened up. Both displays are 5.2-inches full-HD screens, and open up to become a 6.75-inch full-HD display. There's a single 20-megapixel camera that can be used for both front and rear shots. There's a 3180mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB storage, and a 2.15GHz quad core processor. The ZTE Axon M will be available at $24.17 (roughly Rs. 1,600) for 30 months on AT&T Next.
Huawei meanwhile launched the Huawei Mate 10 Lite, with front and rear dual-cameras. The new Mate 10 model is the European variant of the previously launched Honor 9i (India), Huawei Maimang 6 (China), and Huawei Nova 2i (Malaysia), all three of which included four camera sensors and are powered by Huawei's in-house HiSilicon Kirin 659 chipset. The front has a 13-megapixel RGB sensor, and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, while the rear packs a 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor.
In India, Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2017), priced at Rs. 7,390. The phone has a 2000mAh battery, a 4.70-inch Super AMOLED qHD display, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB storage, and a 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front camera.
The Redmi 5A smartphone has been launched by Xiaomi in China as the successor to the Redmi 4A. A highlight of the Redmi 5A is its battery, which the company says will last for eight days. However, the handset priced at NCY 599 (roughly Rs. 6,000) only has minor upgrades over last year's model. Huawei also launched the Huawei Y6 Pro (2017) in Europe - the phone has a 3020mAh battery, and is priced at EUR 189 (roughly Rs. 14,450). It has a 5-inch full-HD display, and brings some improvements over the Huawei Y6 (2017), launched earlier this year.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 rugged tablet has been launched in Netherlands, priced at EUR 500 (roughly Rs. 39,000). The 8-inch tablet has an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB storage, along with an 800x1280 pixels display.
The week also saw one of the biggest security scares - the discovery that nearly all Wi-Fi devices on the planet are vulnerable to hacking. Security researchers came up with a proof-of-concept attack called KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attacks), which could be used to eavesdrop on Wi-Fi connections that use the near ubiquitous WPA2 security protocol. Nearly all devices are vulnerable, and the issue can't be resolved from your router, but rather from the connected device, which will be a particular issue for IoT devices.
Microsoft has already issued a patch for Windows 10, while Apple and Google are working to fix it as well, but you need to have the patch installed on your device. It's essential that users update their devices as soon as the companies roll-out fixes, although the Wi-Fi alliance, an industry group that sets standards for wireless connectivity says that there is no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited maliciously.
Some good news also - if you're in the market for a new phone, Samsung has cut the prices of a number of smartphones, including the premium Samsung Galaxy S8+. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is now available at a reduced price of Rs. 58,900 with a flat Rs. 6,000 price cut. The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) and Galaxy A7 (2017) are now retailing at Rs. 17,990 and Rs. 20,990 respectively, with a cut of roughly Rs. 4,900.
Looking ahead, there's going to be a new HTC U-branded smartphone launch taking place on November 2; the company has sent out invites teasing it will bring back the 'U'. The HTC U11 Plus is the safe bet here - an upgraded version of the HTC U11 unveiled earlier this year. There is also the HTC U11 Life, which is expected to be a mid-range Android One device.
The Moto X4 India launch will be on November 13, the company has revealed. The phone was expected on October 3, but got pushed back a month. The phone was unveiled globally at IFA 2017 in Berlin. The highlight of the smartphone is that it features both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa as voice-based virtual assistants. With the launch of Echo devices and Amazon Alexa Voice Services in India earlier this month, we can now expect the smartphone to come bundled with a fully-functional Alexa in India as well.
The Oppo F5 is tipped to launch three variants with AI powered selfie-features, as per a leaked poster from Thailand. Oppo is hosting an event in India after the Philippines launch on October 26, where all three models are likely to be launched here as well.
And a Nokia 9 leak-based concept video is available now, giving people a good look at what to expect from the phone. The video includes leaked images of the handset we have seen before and essentially offers a cleaner view of the already leaked images in a video.