It's been another interesting week in tech with a number of launches, one big sale, and some interesting developments in the world of telecom. Xiaomi had some big announcements for us, with the launch of the Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus. The phones were launched in China where they will go on sale from next week, starting at CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 7,800) and CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 9,700), respectively. For now, release plans for other countries has not been revealed.
The Redmi 5 starts with a 2GB RAM/ 16GB storage, and the 3GB/ 32GB variant is priced at CNY 899 (roughly Rs. 8,800). The Redmi 5 Plus starts with 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage, and the 4GB/ 64GB variant is priced at CNY 1,299 (roughly Rs. 12,700). Both phones have bezel-less displays with similar designs, running on MIUI 9, and bearing a 12-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. However, the Redmi 5 has a 5.7-inch HD+ display, along with an octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC, while the Redmi 5 Plus has a 5.99-inch full-HD+ display, and an octa-core Snapdragon 625 SoC. The Redmi 5 has a 3300mAh battery, while the bigger Redmi 5 Plus has a 4000mAh battery.
Aside from these two phones, Xiaomi's latest entry-level smartphone, the Xiaomi Redmi 5A (Review), finally went on sale in India for the first time. This entry level phone comes in two variants, a 2GB RAM/ 16GB storage model, and a 3GB/ 32GB model, with the former priced at Rs. 5,999, though the first 5 million units are being sold at Rs. 4,999. The Redmi 5A has a 5-inch HD display, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, and a 3000mAh battery. As noted in our review, it's not particularly different from the earlier Redmi 4A (Review), but at its price, it's an incredible value buy, though its camera quality is pretty bad - a common issue for handsets at this price.
Aside from Xiaomi, Honor also had a major phone go on sale in India this week, the Honor 7X (Review). Starting at Rs. 12,999, it is a little more expensive than the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, and matches the Xiaomi Mi A1. The phone was launched in India this week, and also follows the trend of bezel-less phones. It went on sale on Thursday, and Huawei claims that it was sold out in seconds. It will go on sale again on December 14, and you can register for that sale right now on Amazon India.
As mentioned, the Honor 7X has a bezel-less screen, which is 5.93-inches at a full-HD+ resolution. The phone runs on a HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core 2.36GHz processor, and 4GB of RAM. On the back, there's a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, and there's an 8-megapixel camera on the front. It starts with 32GB of storage, and there's a 64GB version as well. The Honor 7X has a 3340mAh battery.
As we noted in our review, the phone offers good specs at a reasonable price, but the camera performance isn't really impressive, and battery life could have been a little better too. It's not quite the all-rounder that the Xiaomi Mi A1 is, but it's a more modern looking phone.
Meanwhile, apart from the Honor 7X, we also had the London launch of the Honor View 10, which is a rebranded version of the Honor V10, the mid-range smartphone first unveiled in China last week. The phone features a dual-rear camera, a 5.99-inch full-HD+ bezel-less display, an octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM, a 37507mAh battery. It's been priced at EUR 499 (roughly Rs. 38,000) and will be available in India along with the other launch markets on January 8, though the Honor View 10 price in India has not been announced yet.
There was also the launch of the Oppo F5 Youth, with a 6-inch 18:9 display, and a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The phone also has 3GB of RAM, and 32GB storage, and a 3200mAh battery and an octa-core processor. It's priced at Rs. 16,990. The Huawei Nova 2S was launched in China with a 6-inch bezel-less display, and 6GB of RAM, priced at CNY 2,999 (roughly Rs. 29,300). It's going to be launched in India but the details have not been announced.
This week we also got another Flipkart Sale, called the Grand Gadget Days, with deals on smartphones, laptops, audio products, cameras, and accessories. The sale started on November 8, and is on till Sunday, November 8. On the first day, it had some good deals including the JBL Cinema SB150 Soundbar, the HP DeskJet 3775 multi-function wireless printer, and the Bose SoundLink on-ear wireless headphones, apart from good deals on phones. See if some of the best deals on phones are still available.
In case you've missed out on something you wanted in this sale though, don't despair as there's another one coming up. Paytm is holding its second 12/12 sale on Tuesday, after last year's sale to promote digital payments, so you might be able to get some good deals then.
Google meanwhile released the latest version of its browser Chrome, called Chrome 63. It's available across both PC and mobile, with new features for both, though much of this is under the hood and won't be visible to users, though you can expect better performance from Chrome. On mobile, there's also a new feature called Smart Text Selection, which recommends apps to users based on the text they select on any webpage.
There was also lot happening on the telecom front in India - for one thing, the Jio Phone is still causing other telcos to bring cheaper phones to the market. Airtel has partnered with Intex to launch the Aqua Lions N1 for an 'effective price' of Rs. 1,649. You can get the phone for Rs. 3,149, but then offers cashbacks of Rs. 500 after 18 months, and Rs. 1,000 more after another 18 months.
Airtel is also offering an updated Rs. 349 plan, under which users will get access to 2GB data daily; there's also a Rs. 549 plan which gives 3GB data daily. Before this, Airtel was offering 1.5GB data daily for Rs. 349. The plans also include free outgoing calls, even on roaming, and 100 SMS per day. Both plans have a validity of 28 days.
Idea meanwhile has two new plans. Idea's Rs. 509 pack offers 1GB of 3G data daily, along with unlimited calls (both local and STD) for 84 days, which is a little more expensive than similar plans from other operators. Idea has also upgraded its Rs. 198 pack, to offer more data. Users will get 1.5GB of data, for the whole 28-day period. People who get a recharge from the Idea website will get an extra GB of data.
And Vodafone has also rolled out five new 'super plans', with unlimited calling and data benefits. All five prepaid plans have been launched in Tamil Nadu. The Rs. 509 plan has a validity of 84 days with 1GB daily data and unlimited calling. The Rs. 458 plan has the same benefits, but for 70 days, and a Rs. 347 plan with 28 days validity, and 1.5GB per day. The Rs. 199 plan offers 1GB data per month, while the Rs. 79 plan gives 500MB data per day for seven days.
Jio meanwhile did not offer any new plans this week, but it was in the news as well because its download speeds hit and all-time high this month, of 21.9Mbps, as per TRAI data. Vodafone was the second fastest in both 4G download and upload speeds, while Idea led in upload speeds.
We also got a few interesting leaks to look forward to. For one thing, a report suggests that the 2018 iPhone will have a 6.1-inch display, and a metal body, though it will likely not have wireless charging. It's still pretty early for iPhone leaks but early details suggest the follow-up to the iPhone 8 will be drawing heavily from the iPhone X.
There were also a number of leaks around Samsung. To start, there's the Samsung Galaxy J5 Prime (2017), a follow-up to the Galaxy J5 Prime (2016). The smartphone is expected to launch this month and its specs have been leaked. It's expected to have 3GB of RAM, 16GB storage, and a 12-megapixel rear camera sensor, along with an 8-megapixel front camera. It's expected to pack a 2500mAh battery.
Next up there's the Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018), which was leaked in photos. A fresh leak now points to the Galaxy A8+ (2018) sporting an Infinity Display as well - first seen in the Samsung Galaxy S8 earlier this year. The phone is expected to launch in late 2017 or early 2018. Finally, although there were some reports earlier that the next Samsung flagships - the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ - will be showcased at CES, the company has stated that this is "unlikely".