Welcome back to our weekly news recap. One of the highlights this week was the launch of the Redmi 5 in India. Xiaomi has launched three variants of its latest smartphone, starting at Rs. 7,999 for the 2GB RAM/ 16GB storage variant. The 3GB/ 32GB variant of the Redmi 5 is priced in India at Rs. 8,999, and the 4GB/ 64GB variant will be available at Rs. 10,999. Launch offers include a Rs. 2,200 cashback for Reliance Jio, as well as a 5 percent discount on Amazon India and Mi.com for SBI credit cards holders.
The Redmi 5 has an 18:9 aspect ratio 5.7-inch HD+ display, is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC, and it has a 12-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and a 3300mAh battery. It measures up well to other mid-range phones from the company on paper, although our detailed review of the Redmi 5 will be coming soon, so stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for that.
With the launch of the Redmi 5, the company also announced a price cut for the Xiaomi Redmi 4. It's not much though - the price has only gone down by Rs. 500, and the cheapest 2GB RAM variant isn't available as of now. This means the Redmi 4 starts with the 3GB RAM variant at Rs. 8,499. That's almost the same price as the Redmi 5 3GB variant, which as mentioned above, will sell for Rs. 8,999. The Redmi 4 has a bigger (4100mAh) battery, but a smaller 5-inch display, and it runs on an older Snapdragon 435 chip.
Xiaomi also released a new colour option for the Redmi 5A, it's entry level phone, which will now also be available in "Lake Blue". However, the inaugural discount of Rs. 1,000 is now over, and the phone's price has gone up to Rs. 5,999. The dual-SIM Redmi 5A is still a good value buy, with its 5-inch HD display, Snapdragon 450 SoC, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and 3000mAh battery, with 2GB/ 16GB and 3GB/ 32GB RAM and storage variants.
Xiaomi also announced the Xiaomi Smartphone Exchange Offer will now also be applicable on phones bought via Mi.com. Here's how it works. On the Mi.com website, you can visit the exchange page to get a valuation for your handset, based on the IMEI number, and if you accept the valuation, then this amount is presented to you as a coupon. When you are buying a smartphone on Mi.com, entering this coupon will reduce the price by the exchange amount. When your new Xiaomi smartphone is delivered, you only need to hand over your old phone.
Xiaomi says that as long as the old phone is working, and has no physical damage, it will be accepted for the exchange. At the time of handover, the delivery executive will check the phone to make sure there's no damage, and that you've disabled all screen locks and other passwords. Obviously, you should fully reset the phone before handing it over.
There has been a flurry of leaks on the upcoming Vivo V9, which is going to launch in India on March 23. Early this week, live images of the phone were leaked, revealing its design which has thin bezels on the sides, dual rear cameras in a vertical alignment along with the fingerprint sensor on the back, and a notch design like the iPhone X. A retail box leak from Indonesia gave some more details away, including the price in that market - IDR 4,999,000 (roughly Rs. 23,700).
Specifications listed in the Vivo V9 leak mention a 6.0-inch full-HD+ display, Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel combo on the rear camera. It is also said to have a 24-megapixel wide angle selfie camera, a 3250mAh battery and a face unlock feature. However, another leak from Vivo's Indian e-commerce portal contradicts this, just a little. There, the Vivo V9 is listed as having a 6.3-inch full-HD+ display, and a Snapdragon 626 SoC. It also mentions a 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear combo, although the rest appears to be the same.
There were also teasers about the upcoming Oppo F7, which will launch on March 26, and then the details were also officially confirmed. At the start of the week, we knew that the phone would bear an iPhone X-like notch design, and would have a 6.28-inch display with a "full-screen" design. The official confirmation however reveals that it's actually a 6.2-inch display, although the notch is present as expected, with the narrow 19:9 aspect ratio.
Oppo has specified that it will use a number of AI powered features to make the Oppo F7 stand out, and also, will support gesture controls for navigation between apps. Oppo also said it will have an app-in-app view, and will allow you to record and share videos of games running on the phone.
Other hardware specifications have not been confirmed yet, but we know that the Oppo F7 will come with a 25-megapixel selfie camera, and it will support features like beautification and real-time HDR, as well as AR stickers. Pricing and availability will also only be announced at the launch that's scheduled for Monday, March 26.
Meanwhile, Samsung's latest flagship phones, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ (review), are now on sale in India. Samsung launched the two phones at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, and although they are pretty similar to the previous models, new features include faster processors, better cameras, AR emoji, and dual speakers. The Galaxy S9 starts in India at Rs. 57,900 for the 64GB model, while the Galaxy S9+ starts at Rs. 64,900 for the 64GB model.
There are a number of offers available in case you are planning on buying one of these two phones. With Airtel, you can get the phones for Rs. 2,499 a month (Rs. 2,799 per month for the Galaxy S9+), for two years, with a downpayment of Rs. 9,900 for the 64GB models, or Rs. 17,900 for the 256GB models. With this, you also get Airtel's Rs. 2,499 plan, which gives unlimited calling, one year of Amazon Prime, and 80GB 4G data (with rollover).
On the other hand, you could pick up the Galaxy S9+ 256GB via Jio stores if you have a Reliance Jio connection. There, the phone is being offered with a buyback and cashback via Jio. If you cross a total recharge value of Rs. 2,500 in the first 12 months of purchase, you can return the phone for a 70 percent buyback; and aside from this, there is also a Rs. 6,000 cashback on the phone.
Last week, popular multiplayer shooter Fortnite Battle Royale was announced for mobile, and crossplay between the Xbox One, PC, and mobile was announced. The first trailer came this week, showing how the game looks on an iPhone X, and since then, Gadgets 360 has had a chance to try out the game on iOS. It's a surprisingly small 2GB download, that looks good, but with crossplay between platforms, it's going to be interesting to see how it measures up in terms of controls.
In our time with Fortnite on iOS, we found it looked impressive, bringing the huge map and even the detail on character models to the small screen. It was a little cluttered on a phone, though, and since it keeps all the traversal options such as jumping and ducking, the screen is pretty crowded. Aiming is also a challenge with Fortnite on iOS, as you have to use one finger to move, while dragging on the screen to aim, and then using another finger to shoot - it was easier to use melee attacks rather than gunning people down. Clearly, horsepower isn't the concern anymore, though controls remain a challenge on mobiles.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp payments continue to evolve. One of the problems that had been pointed out with the company's implementation of the UPI payments platform was that it didn't let you easily send money to people who were using other UPI apps, such as PhonePe, or Paytm. WhatsApp has now added a Send to UPI ID option that's visible when you try to send money to anyone who does not have a WhatsApp payments ID, making it easier to use.
At the same time, WhatsApp for Android also got new features that make groups more useful - you can now add a group description, or search for users in groups, which can be handy if you're trying to find one particular person in a large group chat. The update also allows you to easily switch between voice and video calls - something that was first seen in the WhatsApp beta for Android in January.
Another phone that could do well in the entry-level was also launched this week - priced at Rs. 7,999, the Micromax Bharat 5 Pro has 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, along with a 5000mAh battery. The phone can also be used as a powerbank to charge up other devices if you require. It has a 5.2-inch HD display, and a 13-megapixel rear camera, along with a 5-megapixel front camera.
The Huawei Y9 (2018) has been launched in Thailand. The new phone has the same specifications as the previously launched Huawei Mate 10 Lite and Honor 9i. It has a 5.93-inch full-HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio display, and is powered by the octa-core Kirin 659 SoC, with 3GB of RAM. It has a 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensor combo on the back, while there's a 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensor combo on the front; and it has 32GB of onboard storage along with a 4000mAh battery. Pricing and availability were not announced.
In Poland, Huawei listed the P20 Lite on its official website, with a pre-order price of PLN 1,599, or roughly Rs. 30,300. This phone has a 5.84-inch full-HD+ 19:9 aspect ratio display, with a vertical dual camera setup on the rear, with a 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensor combination, and there's 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a 3000mAh battery. It also launched the Huawei Nova 2 Lite in the Philippines. It's a 5.99-inch phone with an 18:9 aspect ratio display, a Snapdragon 320, and 3GB RAM, 32GB storage. Huawei brand Honor on Monday announced the launch of its latest budget smartphone in China - the Honor 7C. The phone starts at CNY 899, roughly Rs. 9,200, and has a 5.99-inch HD+ display, a Snapdragon 450 SoC, and 3GB RAM.
There were also some other interesting leaks. For one thing, we're getting close to the launch of both the Moto G6 and the Moto E5. A report claims the two phones have been listed on certification sites, and so far, the listings suggest that the Moto G6 Plus will have a Snapdragon 630 SoC, 4GB/ 6GB RAM variants with a 5.93-inch full-HD+ display. The Moto 6 Play is expected to have a 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage, and a 4GB/ 64GB variant, according to reports.
There were also a couple of leaks about the OnePlus 6 - according to one report, it's umoured to deliver blazingly fast data speeds using Cat. 16 Gigabit LTE connectivity. It's likely to come through the X20 LTE modem in the Snapdragon 845 SoC, which will deliver a much faster experience than earlier OnePlus handsets were capable of. The Cat. 12 LTE in the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T were capable of speeds up to 600Mbps, while the OnePlus 6 will be able to support 1Gbps LTE transfer speeds.
Meanwhile, the latest OnePlus OxygenOS firmware update also revealed some developments about the OnePlus 6 - for one, it's codename, 'enchilada' - and for another, confirmation of the iPhone X-like notch in the display. The latest findings emerge days after the AnTuTu score of the OnePlus 6 spotted online, revealing its 19:9 display and Snapdragon 845 SoC. OnePlus is expected to launch the OnePlus 6 in the second quarter of 2018, sometime before June end.
There were some other leaks too. For one, we got a look at HTC's next, as the HTC U12+ design renders were leaked. The phone is expected in May this year, and will likely have a 5.99-inch QHD+ display. It's also likely to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6GB RAM, 64GB/ 128GB of storage, and a 3240mAh battery, with a 16-megapixel and 12-megapixel rear camera setup, and an 8-megapixel front camera. Meanwhile the Vivo X21, which has an under-display fingerprint sensor, is expected to launch in China on Monday, March 19. Not much else is known about the phone right now, but we're expecting a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC.
There's also the Xiaomi Blackshark, a gaming phone from the Chinese company, which was spotted on Geekbench. The phone allegedly has a Snapdragon 845 SoC, and 8GB RAM, along with 32GB storage, and a full-HD+ display. There's not much else to mark it out as a gaming phone, but it definitely has top-end specifications. Also spotted on Geekbench, there's a listing of the Asus ZenFone 5 Max, with a Snapdragon 660 SoC. According to the listing, the phone will also have 4GB of RAM. Other reports suggest that the phone will have a 57-inch bezel-less 18:9 aspect ratio display, and that it will have a dual-rear camera setup.
Finally, some interesting news from Google - in India, the Google Assistant is now available in Hindi, which follows after Google launched a special version of Assistant with Hindi support for the Jio Phone. With the latest development, Google Assistant has once again made the competition difficult for Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri that both are yet to add Hindi support. The arrival of Hindi Google Assistant also make the space for the launch of Google Home smart speaker range. Users speaking Hindi can access the new support to send text messages, set reminders, or get directions directly through Google Assistant. For instance, you can instruct Google Assistant "Kal subah mujhe saat baje jagaao" to set an alarm for 7am. You can also similarly ask "Cricket ka score kya hain?" to get cricket score updates.
Do Oppo F7 and Vivo V9 show what to expect from OnePlus 6? We discussed that 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.