This was a week with a couple of big launches and one very welcome price cut - the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 got a permanent price cut bringing the starting price under Rs. 10,000. Read on to know more about all the news you can use from the week that was. The Redmi Note 4 is the most popular phone in India by some estimates, offering great value for money, and it's gotten cheaper with a permanent price cut of Rs. 1,000 on its starting price of Rs. 10,999, bringing the phone into the sub-Rs. 10,000 category.
That's for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant, while the upper end variant with 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage is now available at Rs. 11,999. The new price is available via both Mi.com and Flipkart. The 2GB variant on the other hand appears to have been discontinued. The phone otherwise has a 5.5-inch full-HD display, and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 625 SoC, with a 13-megapixel camera on the rear, and a 5-megapixel front camera, along with a large 4100mAh battery.
This price cut comes at a time when Xiaomi is stepping up against the competition, tying with Samsung as India's top smartphone brand, according to a report by IDC. As per the report, both brands have 23.5 percent market share, followed by Lenovo (including Moto), Vivo, and Oppo, which are all under 10 percent. Other brands add up to another 27.6 percent. According to the IDC report, Samsung's bestselling models were the budget-friendly Samsung Galaxy J2, Samsung Galaxy J7 Nxt, and Samsung Galaxy J7 Max, while the Redmi Note 4 was the clear leader for Xiaomi.
Meanwhile, Lenovo is making a play for a slightly higher price point in India with its brand Moto - the company has brought its Moto X4 to India, starting at Rs. 20,999. The phone was first unveiled some months ago at IFA 2017, and Lenovo says it's the first smartphone running on the Snapdragon 630 SoC currently in India.
As mentioned above, the price starts at Rs. 20,999 for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant; the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 22,999. The phone has a 5.2-inch full-HD display, and the octa-core Snapdragon 630 SoC is clocked at 2.2GHz. There's a dual rear camera setup, with a 12-megapixel primary sensor and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor with a 120-degree field of view. There's a 16-megapixel camera on the front, and a 3000mAh battery.
The other big launch this week was the OnePlus 5T - the phone was launched at an event in New York, where the company revealed the details of the new phone. As rumoured, the phone features a bezel-less design and 18:9 aspect ratio, giving it a 6-inch full-HD+ display (1080x2160 pixels). It's been launched at the same price as the OnePlus 5, and apart from the larger display also boasts and improved camera, the company says.
The OnePlus 5T will be available in India and will go on sale from November 21. Its price here starts at Rs. 32,999, for the 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant, while the 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant will set you back by Rs. 37,999. It's first going to available for Amazon Prime members, and will later go on open sale from November 28. In the US, the OnePlus 5T 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant is priced at $499 (roughly Rs. 32,600), while the 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant is priced at $559 (roughly Rs. 36,500).
The phone will get a face unlock feature that's missing from the OnePlus 5, and the other change that's immediately obvious is the new display. Like the OnePlus 5, the new phone is also powered by a Snapdragon 835 SoC, clocked at 2.45GHz, but it's got an updated dual camera setup at the rear. It's still got a 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel sensor combination, but the latter has been upgraded with a bigger aperture and improved focal length, compared to the telephoto lens that was there earlier. This shifts the camera's performance from depth-of-field effects earlier, to low-light performance. The front camera remains unchanged, with a 16-megapixel sensor, and all other specifications remain the asme, including a 3300mAh battery that supports the company's Dash Charge fast charging technology.
Vivo also launched a new phone this week - the Vivo V7 has been launched in Indonesia, shortly after the Chinese smartphone manufacturer announced the India launch of the smartphone on Monday, November 20. This is a selfie-focused smartphone with a 18:9 aspect ratio display, and sports a 5.7-inch HD+ display with an octa-core processor, and 4GB of RAM, along with a 24-megapixel front camera.
We also got the Gionee M7 Power, with a 5000mAh battery, launched at Rs. 16,999. The phone has a 6-inch HD+ display, with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It's powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 SoC, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. There's a 13-megapixel rear camera, and an 8-megapixel front camera. The phone will be available from November 25 via Amazon India.
Meanwhile, telcos and smartphone makers alike are not taking the potential threat of the Jio Phone casually, and the latest entrants to this space are Airtel and Karbonn, who have launched two phones together, the Karbonn A1 Indian, and Karbonn A41 Power. The phones have "effective prices" of Rs. 1,799 and Rs. 1,849 respectively. They actually have an MRP of Rs. 4,390 and Rs. 4,290 respectively and consumers will have to make a down payment of Rs. 3,299 for the Karbonn A1 Indian and a down payment of Rs. 3,349 for the A41 Power.
Customers will have to make 36 continuous monthly recharges minimum value of Rs. 169. This will make customers eligible to get a cash refund of Rs. 500 after 18 months and another Rs. 1,000 after 36 months, taking the total cash benefit to Rs 1,500. Both phones are Android smartphones, albeit with pretty limited specifications. While the A1 Indian has a 4-inch display with a 1.1Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM/ 8GB storage, and a 1500mAh battery, the A41 Power has similar specs but a faster 1.3GHz processor, and a bigger 2300mAh battery.
There were a few more launches in India this week. We saw the Panasonic P91, priced at Rs. 6,490, powered by a quad-core MediaTek SoC, with 1GB RAM; the phone has a 5-inch HD display, 16GB storage, and a 2500mAh battery. There were two phones from Infinix - the Infinix Zero 5 and the Infinix Zero 5 Pro. The Zero 5 is priced at Rs. 17,999, while the Zero 5 Pro is at Rs. 19,999, and the phones are mostly identical, with 5.98-inch full-HD displays, a 2.6GHz octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM, 16-megapixel and 12-megapixel rear and front cameras, and a 4350mAh battery. The only difference is the amount of storage, with the Zero 5 coming with 64GB, while the Zero 5 Pro has 128GB. Intex also launched two new phones, the Intex Aqua Jewel 2 and the Aqua Lions T1, priced at Rs. 5,899 and Rs. 4,999 respectively.
In telecom, there was one interesting offer this week, which came from Vodafone. It's offering two new plans with 1GB daily data, along with bundled calls, and free outgoing on roaming. The Rs. 458 and Rs. 509 plans have 70-day and 84-days validity respectively, and both offer 1GB of data per day. However, these plans are available only to select customers on a pan-India basis.
Meanwhile, in news that might take you by surprise, it turns out that WhatsApp's much awaited Delete for Everyone feature, might not be actually deleting all traces of the messages. We tested this out as well, and it turns out that you can see deleted messages via the notification log, but there are some caveats. Only the messages that have generated a notification on the device, and have been seen or interacted with, can be retrieved. Also, the notification log only saves the messages on the device until it's restarted. Of course, if you've swiped away or seen a message the ability to read it later after it's been deleted is not really a loophole.
Moreover, the method has a restriction that only the first 100 characters of the deleted message will be visible. The feature is available only for users running Android 7.0 and above. Users can only retrieve text which means any kind of media file cannot be recovered.
One of the most popular mobile browsers in India, UC Browser, has been removed from Google Play. The reasons are unclear, though some months ago the Chinese app was accused of spying on users - however this was also a little unclear at the time. UCWeb stated that this is a temporary removal for 7 days starting from 13 November, because a "certain setting" of UC Browser is not in line with Google's policy. However it did not explain what the setting was, or what Google's policy it infringed.
In India, Uber has launched a mobile Web version and started pilot programs for new features such as offline search, call to ride, and more. You'll be able to book an Uber from your mobile browser by visiting m.uber.com, and you'll be able to call a number to book an Uber within popular zones in the city. It's testing this feature in Pune at present, though using the feature means you'll have to pay by cash.
Samsung Pay is getting an update as well, allowing users to pay via Bharat QR based UPI payments. This means that even if the merchant you're shopping at does not support cards or other forms of digital payments, if they have a Bharat QR, you can use your Samsung Pay enabled phone to complete the transaction.
Apart from this, Samsung Pay already supports NFC and MST card payments (for chip and pin cards, and older cards that need to be swiped), and payments from wallets such as Paytm. Earlier this year, Samsung Pay added UPI integration as well, to allow smartphone owners to make payments from their UPI linked bank accounts, for peer to peer transfers, but this new feature will make it possible to use UPI to pay merchants as well.