The week just past had some big launches, such as the Oppo Find X, and as usual, the telecom sector had its share of updates, with numerous new plans and offers being announced for subscribers. The week also introduced some anticipation for the imminent India launch of the Nokia X6 - HMD Global's latest smartphone that has so far been exclusive to China. Google also finally made good on its promise to introduce a Web interface for Android Messages. Apple finally acknowledged a MacBook keyboard issue affecting some users, and offered free fixes and refunds. Also of note was the rollout of WhatsApp's group video and voice calling functionality for Android beta users.
Let's start with the Oppo Find X. The Chinese company's latest flagship was unveiled on Tuesday, and it has a new "innovation" in an attempt to provide as little bezel on its display. Instead of hiding front facing sensors in a notch on top of the display, or at the bottom lip, Oppo has gone the Vivo way with a pop-up camera. The company may have gone a step further, placing both the front facing camera and the rear camera on what is being called a camera slider. The slider also contains the 3D facial scanning sensors. The Oppo Find X has no fingerprint sensor, thus the 3D face unlock feature that uses structured light tech and 15,000 dots to recognise the user is its only biometric authentication mechanism. It features an all-glass design.
The Find X also has Oppo's answer to Apple's Animoji and Samsung's AR Emoji, what it calls 3D Omoji. The AI-assisted front sensor helps create custom avatars that can mimic the user's expression. As you'd expect from a flagship, the Oppo Find X otherwise has top-end specifications. It runs on ColorOS 5.1 that's based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and features a massive 6.42-inch (1080x2340 pixels) full-HD+ AMOLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The company is also claiming a 93.8 percent screen-to-body ratio.
Other Oppo Find X specifications include a Snapdragon 845 SoC, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of inbuilt storage, a dual rear camera setup comprising a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel secondary sensor, a 25-megapixel front camera, as well as 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5 LE, GPS, USB-Type C connectivity options. The Oppo Find X dimensions are 156.7x74.3x9.4mm, it weighs 186 grams, and it comes with a 3730mAh battery with VOOC fast charging.
The Chinese company alongside the Find X also launched a special edition of the smartphone made in collaboration with the Automobili Lamborghini design house. Called the Oppo Find X Automobili Lamborghini Edition, the biggest difference between the smartphones is that the special edition comes with Super VOOC Flash Charge, said to completely charge the smartphone's 3400mAh battery in 35 minutes. It comes with twice the inbuilt storage, at 512GB.
Other differences include the use of a matte carbon fibre look on the rear panel, instead of the Find X's glossy metallic finish, complete with a Lamborghini logo. While the Oppo Find X Automobili Lamborghini Edition price was set at a whopping EUR 1,699 (roughly Rs. 1,34,400), the regular Oppo Find X price is set at EUR 999 (roughly Rs. 79,000). Both smartphones will only go on sale in August.
Let's get to the various announcements made by the country's telecom operators in the past week, attempts to stay relevant in the now intensely competitive market thanks to the presence of 4G-only operator Reliance Jio rattling incumbents. Starting with Airtel, the nation's largest telco in terms of subscribers launched its Rs. 597 recharge plan that offers unlimited voice calls without an FUP, 100 SMS messages a day, and 10GB data for 168 days. While the offer is available only for select Airtel subscribers in a few regions, it is expected to become more broadly available in the near future.
The country's second largest telco in terms of subscribers, Vodafone India, also had a major announcement this week - a complete revamp of its Red postpaid plans. All the Vodafone Red postpaid plans, which range from Rs. 399 to Rs. 2,999 a month, now offer unlimited calls, free national roaming, more data than before, and in some cases bundled Amazon Prime or Netflix subscriptions for users. Other benefits include a free Bill Guarantee feature, access to Vodafone Play, as well as Mobile Shield, and Red Hot Deals.
Next up, we come to state-owned telecom operator BSNL, which in fact had a couple of announcements this week. The first involved the revamp of its prepaid packs under the Monsoon Offer, which will last for 60 days. BSNL has given subscribers 2GB data daily amongst other benefits, such as 100 SMS messages a day, as well as unlimited calls including on roaming. BSNL's Rs. 186, Rs. 429, Rs. 485, Rs. 666, and Rs. 999 combo prepaid packs now offer 2GB data per day for their entire validity period, while the Rs. 187, Rs. 333, Rs. 349, Rs. 444, and Rs. 448 special tariff vouchers (STVs) also get the same offer.
BSNL this week also announced an offer for new laptop and desktop buyers, promising them a free 2-month 20Mbps broadband trial. To avail the offer, buyers will have to submit the bill of purchase for their new laptop or desktop to the telco. The starting BSNL plans have a monthly FUP of 45GB (1.5GB a day), going up to 20GB daily. Once the daily FUP limit is crossed, users will get speeds of 1Mbps for the rest of the day.
Finally, Idea announced that it had completed the rollout of 4G VoLTE services in all its 4G circles. The announcement made this week was after the telco had rolled out VoLTE services to five more telecom circles since the last announcement, taking the total to 20 circles. The five new circles that received VoLTE services were Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, North East Service Area (NESA), and Odisha. Idea, as an introductory offer to VoLTE users on its network, is providing 30GB of free data.
Moving on from the telecom announcements of the week, we come to the other hot piece of news - the recently launched Nokia X6 looks set to make its way to India and other global markets soon. To recall, HMD Global's latest smartphone was launched exclusively in China last month, but thanks to interest from the global stage, the Finnish company decided to consider the feasibility of bring the Nokia X6 to other markets. In the past week, the Nokia X6's global version was spotted on the company's site, before being pulled. Soon after, its support page in India was also seen, tipping the imminent arrival of the Nokia X6 in the country - we can expect a launch as soon as next week.
The Nokia X6 global variant was also said to have been spotted on the Bluetooth certification site, alongside a Nokia 5.1 Plus smartphone. The latter smartphone was also spotted on TENAA, and its listed specifications included Android 8.1 Oreo, a 5.86-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) TFT panel with an 19:9 aspect ratio, an octa-core SoC clocked at 2.0GHz, 3GB/ 4GB/ 6GB of RAM and 32GB/ 64GB of internal storage, a vertical rear camera setup with a 13-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 3000mAh battery. As with other leaks however, we'd urge readers to take the information with a pinch of salt, and await official confirmation of the Nokia X6 launch from the company.
Next up, are leaks surrounding the hotly anticipated Xiaomi Mi A2 smartphone, the successor to last years Mi A1 Android One smartphone. The model has been much rumoured since the launch of the Mi 6X back in April this year - to recall, the Mi 5X was the model that the Mi A1 was based on, and it was expected the company would follow tradition and launch the Mi A2 as its next Android One smartphone. The Mi A2 was listed on a third-party retailer in Switzerland, and featured specifications that were identical to the Mi 6X. The 32GB storage variant price was listed at CHF 289 (roughly Rs. 19,800), while the 64GB storage variant price was listed at CHF 329 (about Rs. 22,500), and the 128GB internal storage was priced at CHF 369 (roughly Rs. 25,200).
Other mobile leaks this week include the Moto C2, which was allegedly spotted on the US FCC and was tipped to be the company's first Android Go smartphone. New Xiaomi smartphones, thought to be the Redmi 6 Pro or Mi Max 3, were also spotted on the US FCC, though many details didn't accompany this piece of news.
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 was separately spotted on TENAA, the Chinese telecommunications certification authority. It is seen to have a design similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro , run on Android 8.1 Oreo, sport a 6.9-inch full-HD (1080x2160 pixels) display with 18:9 aspect ratio, and be powered by a Snapdragon 636 SoC . RAM and storage variants include 3GB RAM/32GB storage, 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage, , 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage, and a 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage bundles. This week also saw the leak of the LG Q8+ and an Android One variant of the LG G7. The latter smartphone is expected to be exclusive to T-Mobile in the US. The hotly anticipated Moto One Power was also leaked in alleged live images, with the tipster who shared them also claiming the smartphone may be called the Moto One instead.
In the meanwhile, the Xiaomi Redmi Pro 6 and Mi Pad 4 are both set to launch in China on Monday, and ahead of their launch, the company has teased the two devices several times. The Redmi 6 Pro design was revealed when the company shared official renders of the smartphone, as well as unboxing photos taken by a news site, on its Weibo page. The smartphone is confirmed to sport the option to hide its notch. The smartphone's 4GB RAM, 64GB storage variant was also confirmed to be priced starting CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 10,400). Separately, the smartphone was also leaked in live images. In the meanwhile the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4, which was already confirmed to sport an 8-inch full-HD display, was also confirmed to run on the Snapdragon 660 SoC and come with a smart game acceleration mode.
Now that we're done with the major leaks of the week, let's move onto the minor smartphone launches - Panasonic this week launched its budget P90 smartphone in India. Priced at Rs. 5,599, the smartphone is powered by a MediaTek MT6737 SoC and bears just 1GB of RAM. It bears a 5-inch HD display, and a 5-megapixel camera on both the front and back of the handset. It comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage, and offers 4G LTE connectivity. The company also launched the Panasonic Toughbook FZ-T1 smartphone internationally, a rugged offering for enterprises with a suitably premium price point.
Chinese brand Comio also launched the C1 Pro in the country. Also priced at Rs. 5,599, it runs Android 8.1 Oreo, and sports a 5-inch HD+ (720x1440 pixels) display, a quad-core MediaTek 6739 SoC, 1.5GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front camera. It bears 16GB of inbuilt storage, and is powered by a 2500mAh battery.
OnePlus earlier this week released a new version of the Android P Beta for OnePlus 6 users, still based on Android P DP2. If users are already running the first beta, they will have to factory reset their handsets before installing. As per the changelog, a fix for the inbuilt Face Unlock feature and fixes for camera stability and application compatibility have been issued.
Also this week, OnePlus this finally made the Bullets Wireless available to buy in India. To recall, the earphones were globally unveiled in May, and the company launched them in India alongside the OnePlus 6 the same month, at a price of Rs. 3,990. They went on sale in India this week via Amazon and the OnePlus online store.
This week, the Vivo Y81 was also launched in Vietnam. The smartphone runs FunTouch OS 4.0, based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and sports a 6.22-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) IPS display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, an octa-core MediaTek MT6762 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of inbuilt storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera sensor, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 3260mAh battery.
The LG Stylo 4 was launched in the US under carrier MetroPCS, and like other models in the series, sports a stylus. The Stylo 4 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with LG UX on top, and sports a 6.2-inch full-HD+ (1080x2160 pixels) FullVision display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 450 SoC, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera sensor, a 5-megapixel camera sensor, 32GB of inbuilt storage, and a 3300mAh battery
Xiaomi also launched the Mi Pocket Speaker 2 in India, with a claimed battery life of up to 7 hours, and a price tag of Rs. 1,499. It features a body made from polycarbonate, ABS material, and aluminium alloy, with the company also touting the presence of an LED status indicator and a built-in microphone. Xiaomi in China this week also unveiled the Mi Router 4Q, a budget Wi-Fi router that is priced at just CNY 89 (roughly Rs. 940). It offers single-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n support, and has three omni-directional antennae.
Back in India, Jabra launched its new wireless earphones - the Elite 65e and the Elite Active 65t. The Elite 65e price was set at Rs. 16,999, while the Elite Active 65t price was set at Rs. 14,999. The Bluetooth 5.0 earphones both offer one-touch access voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, and also come with a HearThrough feature that filters in ambient noise. The neckband-style Jabra Elite 65e is IP54 water and dust resistant, while the Jabra Elite Active 65t are truly wireless earphones that are IP56 dust and water resistant.
Still with us? Great. The week just past also saw Amazon India silently begin offering a monthly Prime subscription in India, a practice it follows in several other countries where it offers its premium subscription. In the country, the monthly Prime membership has been priced at Rs. 129 - this compared to the Rs. 999 annual charge.
WhatsApp also rolled out group video and voice calling functionality to Android beta users, starting with beta v2.18.189. To recall, Facebook had announced the feature at its F8 developer conference last month, and the feature has yet to become broadly available for stable users. Users with the latest Android beta can enjoy the features, while previously some iPhone users had received the feature as well. Users can add up to 3 participants to a video or voice call, using the add icon on the top right of the in-call interface.
Google earlier this week announced that the Web interface of Android Messages had started rolling out, and would be available globally by next week. To recall, Google had announced the feature when it had revealed its new RCS-based messaging ambitions that would see end of development of its Allo app. To use the new feature you will have to install the latest version of the Android Messages app. On your PC, go to the Android Messages site where you will need to scan a QR code using the Android Messages mobile app, creating a link between the two, similarly to how WhatsApp Web works.
Finally, Apple late this week acknowledged some MacBook users were facing issues with their laptop keyboards. The company introduced its proprietary butterfly switches back in 2015, and ever since, many users have raised complaints that these keyboards stop functioning properly when the slightest amount of dust enters. Apple had previously provided instruction on how users can clean the keyboards with compressed air, but now has finally relented and is offering free fixes and refunds to affected users. The out-of-warranty fix for such an issue was said to cost $700 (roughly Rs. 47,500).
Are Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X revolutionary phones or overpriced prototypes? 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.