Redmi Note 7 Pro finally went on sale in India, and besides the fact that it went out of stock in seconds, other major news this week included the release of the first Android Q beta, the launch of the new budget Asus ZenFone Max Shot and ZenFone Max Plus M2, while the Huawei Nova 4e was also unveiled. YouTube Music and YouTube Premium also made their way to India this week, while Jio reintroduced its Celebrations Pack with free data, and Samsung took on Xiaomi in the affordable 4K TV segment.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) this week went on sale on Wednesday alongside its more affordable sibling – the Redmi Note 7 – which was going on sale for the second time in the country. The smartphone went out of stock in seconds, the company's India chief Manu Kumar Jain revealed in a social media post soon after. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro was on sale via Flipkart, Mi.com, and Mi Home stores.
The biggest highlight of the Redmi Note 7 Pro is of course the 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor on its dual rear camera setup, apart from the Snapdragon 675 SoC. Redmi Note 7 Pro price in India is Rs. 13,999 for the 4GB/ 64GB variant, and Rs. 16,999 for the 6GB/ 128GB variant. The Redmi Note 7, which also went on sale alongside the Redmi Note 7 Pro, is priced at Rs. 9,999 for the 3GB/ 32GB variant, and Rs. 11,999 for the 4GB/ 64GB variant.
While we're on the topic of Xiaomi, let's discuss the anticipated Redmi 7. The Chinese electronics company is set to launch its next budget model in the coming week at an event on March 18 in China, alongside the Chinese variant of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. While the latter smartphone launched in India last month, Xiaomi has teased that the Redmi Note Pro China variant will come with a few surprises in comparison to the India variant.
It has also revealed the Redmi 7's retail box as well as the fact it sports a 4,000mAh battery. An earlier TENAA listing had pointed at a 6.26-inch display, up to 4GB of RAM, up to 64GB of storage, as well as a dual rear camera setup with 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel sensors.
Xiaomi this week also cut the price of the Mi A2 in India, with the 4GB/ 64GB variant now priced at Rs. 11,999, while the 6GB/ 128GB model remains priced at Rs. 15,999. To recall, Xiaomi had launched the Mi A2 in India back in August last year, priced at Rs. 16,999 and Rs. 19,999 respectively, while it received its first price drop in November last year, and its second price cut in January this year.
Finally, in the last bit of mobile news revolving around the Chinese company from this week, Xiaomi-backed Black Shark opened registrations for the Black Shark 2 gaming smartphone. Set to launch on March 18 alongside the Redmi 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro China variant, the Xiaomi Black Shark 2 is also confirmed to run on Snapdragon 855 SoC with up to 12GB of RAM. In the past, Xiaomi has also revealed the Black Shark 2 will sport a new Liquid Cool 3.0 technology.
As we mentioned and as anticipated, Google this week released the first Android Q Beta. Currently only available for Pixel devices, the beta is expected to be made available via more OEM devices than the Android P Beta was. Android Q Beta 1 introduced several new features to the platform, such as new security and permission-based options, improved Wi-Fi connectivity, further support for foldable devices, improved inter-app sharing mechanisms, as well as native Bokeh effects processing feature.
Google was anticipated to introduced a system-wide dark mode feature, but that hasn't found its way into the first Android Q beta at least. The company has announced that major interface changes can be expected by the time of the fifth and sixth beta release candidate updates in the third quarter of the year. Other changes seen in this version include new audio and video codecs, a laundry list of improvements to the ART runtime for faster app launches and improved memory management, apart from extended support for biometric authentication.
Next up, Taiwanese consumer electronics giant Asus this week launched two budget smartphones in Brazil – the Asus ZenFone Max Shot and the Asus ZenFone Max Plus M2. The smartphones are the world's first to run on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon System in Package (SiP). Designs are nearly identical, and both phones also feature wide display notches and come with 6.26-inch displays. ZenFone Max Shot price is set at BRL 1,349 (roughly Rs. 25,800) for the 3GB/ 32GB variant, while the 4GB/ 64GB variant is priced at BRL 1,549 (roughly Rs. 29,600). The ZenFone Max Plus M2 price on the other hand starts at BRL 1,299 (roughly Rs. 24,800).
Huawei Nova 4e launch, new 6GB RAM variant for Huawei Nova 4
Huawei this week had two smartphone launches in China – it unveiled the Huawei Nova 4e, and also launched a 6GB RAM variant of the Huawei Nova 4.
The Huawei Nova 4e is a more bare-bones variant of the Huawei Nova 4 launched late last year, and features a waterdrop-shaped display notch rather than a hole-punch display the latter pioneered. The Huawei Nova 4e price starts at CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 21,000) for the 4GB + 128GB variant, and the 6GB + 128GB variant price is set at CNY 2,299 (roughly Rs. 24,000). The 6GB Nova 4 variant on the other hand is priced at CNY 2,799 (roughly Rs. 29,500), and to put that in perspective, the previously launched 8GB RAM + 48-megapixel camera and 8GB RAM + 20-megapixel camera variants are priced at CNY 3,399 (roughly Rs. 35,800) and CNY 3,099 (roughly Rs. 32,600) respectively.
In another bit of Huawei smartphone news, the Huawei P30 Pro India launch is reportedly set to be soon after the global P30 series launch in Paris on March 26. The release window was reported by news agency IANS while citing ‘reliable industry sources'.
This week also saw leaks about the specifications of both smartphones, with the Huawei P30 Pro tipped to sport a quad rear camera setup and the Huawei P30 set to sport a triple rear camera setup.
Finally, Huawei this week also launched the Watch GT smartwatch in India, starting at Rs. 15,990. The Huawei Band 3 Pro, and Band 3e fitness trackers were also launched in the country, priced at Rs. 4,699 and Rs. 1,699 respectively. All three will be available to buy from Amazon India later this month, with the Watch GT and Band 3e going on sale on March 19, and the Huawei Band 3 Pro going on sale on March 26.
Samsung Galaxy M20 open sale, and other Samsung mobile news
Samsung this week announced the Galaxy M20 – part of the company's India-first Galaxy M-series that was unveiled in January – will now be available via open sale in the country. The Samsung Galaxy M20 price in India starts at Rs. 10,990 for the 3GB/ 32GB variant, while the 4GB/ 64GB model is priced at Rs. 12,990. As before, the smartphone is available via Amazon and the Samsung Online Shop.
In other Samsung mobile news, the company's flagship Galaxy S10 series was in the news for the wrong reasons. The first piece of news was regarding the face unlock feature, which was found to be easily fooled by things like photographs, videos, and even dramatically - sibling's faces, though a simple solution to this is to toggle off Faster Recognition that uses a 2D face unlocking method that isn't as accurate as the 3D face unlock method. By default however, the feature is turned on, thus buyers are recommended to turn it off for security reasons.
Next up, Samsung's Galaxy S10 series – at least the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ – were found to detect touch inputs when in the pocket of the user, causing accidental presses. Samsung's yet to respond to the issue.
Vivo Y93, Y95 price in India cut; Vivo X27 specifications announced
Vivo this week cut the price of the Vivo Y93 and Vivo V95 smartphones in India. The V93 now starts at Rs. 11,990 for the 3GB/ 64GB variant, going up to Rs. 12,990 for the 4GB/ 32GB variant, while the Y95 is priced at Rs. 14,990 for its single variant in the country. To recall, the Vivo Y93 was launched in India back in December last year, while the Vivo Y95 was launched in November.
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer this week also confirmed a few specifications of the Vivo X27 smartphone that's due to launch on March 19, including 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, and 22.5W fast charging support. A 48-megapixel rear camera has also been confirmed, expected to be Sony's IMX586 sensor. Alongside, details of a lower-end Vivo X27 variants were tipped, as well as details of the higher-end Vivo X27 Pro offering.
The Realme 3 – the latest offering in the Oppo spinoff brand's stable – went on sale for the first time in India this week, with two sales held on the same day. The brand also announced that across both sales, it managed to sell 2.1 lakh units. The next Realme 3 sale was also set a week away, for March 19. The Realme 3 was launched in India last week, priced at Rs. 8,999 for its 3GB/ 32GB model, and Rs. 10,999 for its 4GB RAM/ 64GB model.
In other Oppo news, the Chinese smartphone company announced a new brand called Reno – with the first smartphone set to debut on April 10. So far, not much is known about the new Oppo Reno smartphone, but it is expected to be targeted at the youth, and a dual rear camera was also teased. Later leaks this week tipped 10x hybrid optical zoom, a Snapdragon 710 SoC, a 48-megapixel camera, and colour options.
Redmi Note 7 and other software updates news this week
The week past also saw several smartphone manufacturers rolling out updates for their devices. Amongst the most notable was the first update for the budget Redmi Note 7 smartphone, which brought enhanced low light photography. Next up, Xiaomi announced its Android Pie-based update roadmap for phones in its stable, such as the Redmi Note 5, the Redmi Y2, the Mi Mix 2, and others.
The March Android security update was separately rolled out for the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the Galaxy Note 8. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy A50 received a new update that brought camera improvements and the March Android security patch.
To recall, the Nokia 3.1 was launched in India back in August last year. HMD Global also said that it was working on an update for the recently launched Nokia 9 PureView, fixing camera app crashes and improving the in-display fingerprint sensor.
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 and ZenFone Max M2 both started receiving their February Android security patch this week, with the company separately apologising for the delayed Android Pie updates for the two smartphones (as well as the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1), saying they would be released by April 15 ‘latest'.
Finally, in terms of updates, the week gone past also saw the Honor 8X receiving its Android Pie-based EMUI 9.0 update. To recall, the Honor 8X was launched in India back in October last year, priced at Rs. 14,999 for the 4GB/ 64GB variant, Rs. 16,999 for 6GB/ 64GB variant, and Rs. 18,999 for the 6GB/ 128GB variant.
Samsung Galaxy A70, Galaxy A2 Core, Oppo A5s, and other leaks
There were several leaks in the mobile space in the week just past, with the Samsung Galaxy A70 making an appearance in the rumour mill apart from the Galaxy A60. A new Android Go edition smartphone from the South Korean consumer electronics giant was also tipped for two as-yet-unannounced Oppo smartphones – the Oppo A1K and the Oppo A5s, with some specifications also tipped.
Next up, the anticipated Google Pixel 3 Lite and Google Pixel 3 XL Lite were this week rumoured to be branded the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL instead. An alleged schematic of the Google Pixel 4 XL was also part of the leak sphere.
Jio Celebrations Pack free data, Idea Amazon Prime subscription, and other telecom news
This week, Reliance Jio was spotted to have restarted its Jio Celebrations Pack, which offers 2GB free daily data for up to 4 days. To recall, the offer was first rolled out to subscribers in November last year.
Idea on the other hand announced that subscribers of its Nirvana postpaid plans would receive an year's Amazon Prime subscription. Only subscribers of its Rs. 399 or above Nirvana postpaid plans would be eligible for the bundled free subscription. Of course, merged company Vodafone is not new to such a bundled offer, with it also offering free Amazon Prime subscriptions to its postpaid subscribers.
Finally, state owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) this week began offering select landline customers a free broadband service. The company had also recently extended its 25 percent cashback on annual broadband plans offer up to March 31. Alongside the free broadband service, BSNL announced that its Wings telephony service can now make international roaming calls at Rs. 1.20 per minute.
WhatsApp new features, third-party app ban, and other news
Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp had a headline-worthy week as usual, with new features being spotted, such as an as-yet-disabled in-app browser as well as a search image feature on the Android beta in two separate Android beta versions.
WhatsApp this week also announced it was banning users of third-party WhatsApp apps, such as WhatsApp Plus and WhatsApp GB. The company though was rather helpful, and provided migration steps for users of these apps so they could make their way back into the fold after being banned.
WhatsApp's India chief this week said the company would do more to curb viral content ahead of the country's general elections. Finally, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton at an event addressing Stanford University students told them to delete Facebook.
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp global outage, and other Facebook news
Facebook this week suffered a massive outage across its apps – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – which lasted nearly two days in some regions. It later revealed the outage was due to a server configuration change.
In other major Facebook news, the company's long-time product chief – Chris Cox – announced he would be departing the company. Alongside, WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels also revealed he would be leaving the company. Finally, WhatsApp rival Telegram appears to have had a great week during Facebook's server outage – it gained 3 million new users in the period, its CEO revealed.
Google launches YouTube Music, YouTube Premium in India
Following the launch of Spotify in India late last month, Google this week rejoined the ongoing music streaming battle in the country with the launch of YouTube Music and YouTube Music Premium in country. Alongside, YouTube Premium was also launched, a subscription that also includes YouTube Music Premium in the country.
YouTube Music (ad-supported) is free, while YouTube Music Premium with additional features and ad-free is priced at Rs. 99 per month. YouTube Premium on the other hand is priced at Rs. 129 per month.
Speaking of streaming services, Apple this week sent invites for an event on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The invite featured the tagline “it's show time”, certainly pointing to the launch of its much rumoured video streaming service.
Twitter had quite an eventful week as well, with the company releasing its prototype ‘twttr' app for iOS to test new features with a limited number of users. It also began rolling out a redesigned camera for its mobile apps, and its Ads Transparency Center officially launched in India ahead of the country's general elections.
Samsung this week launched an affordable lineup of 4K TVs in India, taking on Xiaomi's emerging clout in the space, starting Rs. 41,990. Xiaomi reacted by cutting the price of two TVs – the Mi TV 4A Pro 49 and the Mi TV 4 Pro 4 55-inch.
In gaming news, perhaps the biggest headline this week was that Rajkot police was reported to have arrested 10 people for playing PUBG Mobile – flouting a ban in the state, and PUBG Mobile developer Tencent Games finally issued a statement around the move saying it is hoping to find a reasonable solution.
Valve also launched its Steam Link Anywhere service in beta, allowing Steam users to stream their PC games onto their phones, TVs, and other devices, even if the PC and client are connected to separate Wi-Fi networks.
Finally, Asus this week launched new gaming laptops in India - ROG Strix Scar II and ROG Strix Hero II - both priced at Rs. 1,64,990.
Do Redmi Note 7 Pro, Redmi Note 7, and Mi Soundbar redefine their price segments? 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.