Redmi Note 7 Pro price leak, Samsung Galaxy M-series India launch date, and the WhatsApp for Android update were easily the biggest tech news items of the week just past. Starting with Xiaomi and its sub-brand Redmi, the Chinese manufacturer is getting ready to introduce the international variant of its Redmi Note 7 smartphone in the form of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Although the company is yet to officially announce the new model, the company's Redmi Note 5 Pro and Redmi Note 6 Pro are pretty good indicators of the fact that Redmi Note 7 Pro is coming to India and several other global markets where Xiaomi currently operates.
Redmi Note 7 Pro price
The Redmi Note 7 Pro was briefly mentioned at the Redmi Note 7 launch event last week, but the company failed to share many details apart from revealing that phone will come with Sony IMX586 primary sensor instead of Samsung ISOCELL GM1 sensor present in the Redmi Note 7.
Earlier this week, the alleged pricing of the Redmi Note 7 Pro phone made its way to Chinese social network Weibo. A Weibo tipster suggested that the smartphone will retail at CNY 1,499 (roughly Rs. 15,800). It is unclear whether it is the starting price of the phone or of a specific storage variant. The tipster also noted that the Redmi Note 7 Pro will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC.
Despite the slowing down smartphone market, Redmi by Xiaomi is quite bullish about the Redmi Note 7. A company executive on Tuesday stated that Redmi is hopeful of selling one million units of the Redmi Note 7 in January alone. Since the company's first Redmi Note 7 flash sale lasted just over eight minutes, it looks very likely that the company will achieve the milestone.
In more Xiaomi/ Redmi news, the MIUI team recently shared that Android 9 Pie update for Redmi Note 5, Redmi 6 Pro, Redmi S2 will go into internal testing in the first quarter of this year. The Mi 6X Android Pie update will also enter testing during the same time. However, it is unclear whether the team was just talking about the Chinese phones or their global variants as well.
On the India front, Xiaomi's new Mi TV models – Mi TV 4X Pro 55 and Mi TV 4A Pro 43 – went on sale for the first time this week. These smart TVs are being offered via Flipkart, Mi.com, and Mi Home stores in the country. While the Mi TV 4X Pro 55-inch model price in India is Rs. 39,999, the Mi TV 4A Pro 43-inch is retailing at Rs. 22,999. Additionally, the company also held the first sale for Mi Soundbar, the company's first home audio product in the country. The Mi Soundbar carries a price-tag of Rs. 4,999.
Talking about sales, both Amazon and Flipkart have kicked off their first big sales of the year — check out the top deals on offer right now during the Amazon Great Indian sale and Flipkart Republic Day sale.
Samsung Galaxy M-series India launch
As we mentioned earlier, Samsung finally announced this week that it plans to unveil the new Galaxy M-series of phones on January 28 in the country. The phones will go on sale beginning February 5 via Samsung's own online store and Amazon India. The South Korean company and its retail partner Amazon have been very aggressive with the marketing of these upcoming phones. The companies have been actively teasing the Galaxy M-series phones on Twitter and other social media platforms.
As per online reports, Samsung is planning to introduce three phones in the Galaxy M-series – Samsung Galaxy M10, Galaxy M20, and Galaxy M30 – however, only the first two are likely to be released initially, with the Galaxy M30 following later. A recent report from IANS also claimed to divulge the prices of Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20. According to the news agency, Samsung will sell the Galaxy M10 starting Rs. 7,990, whereas the Galaxy M20 will be offered beginning Rs. 10,990. The company is yet to officially confirm these prices.
WhatsApp adds new features
The massively popular messaging app WhatsApp earlier this week released an update for its Android version in the Google Play store. The update adds a group call shortcut to make it easier for the consumers to place a group video or voice call. The same shortcut is already available in the iPhone version of the app. Additionally, the company included a fix for GIF bug in the latest update for the Android app. The update carries the version number 2.19.2.
WhatsApp is also said to be working on integrating support for stickers offered by the keyboard apps like GBoard. The Google-owned keyboard is reportedly first in line to support direct sharing of stickers in WhatsApp, with other keyboard apps following later. At this point, it is believed that Google is testing the integration on its end, whereas WhatsApp has already included the integration. As soon a Google is done testing, the feature will be rolled out to the Android users. There is no word if the same will be released for the iPhone users.
A report from App Annie revealed this week that WhatsApp crossed Facebook to become most popular Facebook-owned application. The WhatsApp Messenger surpassed Facebook in September and has maintained the lead since. App Annie's The State of Mobile 2019 report also notes that WhatsApp was the most used social app in 2018 by average monthly sessions per user. The app claimed the top spot in markets like India, Canada, Germany, Brazil, and UK, whereas Snapchat dominated the US and France markets.
With the Mobile World Congress quickly approaching, the smartphone makers were largely silent this week. Although there were a few India-specific launches, Vivo was the only company to introduce a brand-new device – Vivo Z3i Standard Edition. It is a variant of the company's previously launched Vivo Z3i. The phone is currently only available in China and carries a price-tag of CNY 1,998 (roughly Rs. 20,900).
The dual-SIM Vivo Z3i Standard Edition features a 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080x2280 pixels) IPS screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P60 SoC, coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB). Among other specifications, Vivo has included a dual rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor.
Honor 10 Lite now available in India
Coming to India, Honor launched its Honor 10 Lite smartphone in the country this week. The phone is now available via Flipkart and HiHonor store starting Rs. 13,999. The Honor 10 Lite runs EMUI 9.0 on top of Android 9.0 Pie out-of-the-box and features a 6.21-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) display with a dewdrop notch. It is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC and up to 6GB of RAM.
Additionally, the Honor 10 Lite comes with a dual camera setup on the back with a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. There is a 24-megapixel camera on the front as well. The phone is now on sale in India.
Huawei, the parent company of Honor, was also hogging the headlines this week with the release of its Huawei Y9 (2019) smartphone. The phone was launched last week but went on sale on in the country on December 17. It is a mid-range smartphone and has been priced at Rs. 15,990. The price-tag includes a bundled Boat ROCKERZ 255 SPORTS Bluetooth headset.
In terms of the specifications, the Huawei Y9 (2019) sports a 6.5-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) FullView display. It is powered by an octa-core Kirin 710 SoC, paired with 4GB RAM. The smartphone has 64GB of inbuilt storage, which can further be expanded using a microSD card (up to 256GB). For the imaging need, Huawei has packed a dual rear camera setup that includes a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor.
Vivo's new Z3i Standard Edition may not be gracing the Indian stores just yet, but the Chinese smartphone maker unveiled the Vivo Y91 phone in the country this week. The phone is already on sale via Vivo's own e-store, Amazon India, and PayTM Mall. The company plans to release it via offline retail partners as well.
The Vivo Y91 features a 6.22-inch FullView display with HD+ resolution (720x1520) with a dewdrop notch. It is powered by octa-core MediaTek Helio P22 SoC and include 2GB of RAM as well as 32GB of inbuilt storage. There is a microSD card slot as well in the phone for further storage expansion. For the photography enthusiast, the Vivo Y91 comes with a dual rear camera setup with a 13-megapixel primary sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor.
Transsion Holdings' mobile brand Itel too joined the launch action the past Monday with the introduction of its Itel A44 Air phone. It is based on Android Go platform and runs on Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition). Other features of the phone include a 5.45-inch FWVGA (480x960 pixels) display Unisoc (formerly Spreadtrum) SC9832E processor, and 1GB of RAM.
The phone also packs a dual rear camera set-up with a 5-megapixel primary sensor and a 0.08-megapixel secondary sensor. According to Itel, the A44 Air has been priced at Rs. 4,999 and can now be purchased from major retail stores across the country.
Among the non-smartphone launches, Amazon introduced its Echo Input device in the country with a price-tag of Rs. 2,999. The device essentially can bring Alexa support to any of existing speakers, either through an audio cable or via a Bluetooth connection. The device's pricing hasn't gotten much love from the netizens as it is almost double of what the company charges from US consumers.
To make the device more enticing to the Indian consumers, Amazon has partnered with speaker brand to bundle Echo Dot with their speakers at a discounted price. The JBL Go 2 speaker bundle gets you a flat Rs. 1,499 discount, whereas you can get the Echo Input for free if you buy the newly launched Ultimate Ears Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve.
Xiaomi-Backed Huami also released its Amazfit Verge Smartwatch in the country. It carries a price-tag of Rs. 11,999 and is now on sale via Amazon.in. The smartwatch sports a 1.3-inch AMOLED display and packs a heart rate monitor and GPS. It is said to have a 5-day battery life. The Huawei Amazfit can show notifications for incoming calls, messages, and other applications. It is also comes with 11 sports modes and can track distance, time, pace, calories, speed, elevation and more.
While the likes of Vivo and Huawei introduced new phones this week in the country, HMD Global reduced the prices of two of the Nokia phones – Nokia 3.1 Plus and Nokia 5.1 Plus. The Nokia 3.1 Plus, which used to earlier retail at Rs. 11,499, can now be purchased at just Rs. 9,999. The new pricing is already in effect on Flipkart and Amazon. On the other hand, Nokia 5 Plus has received a price-cut of just Rs. 400. The phone was launched at Rs. 10,999 but can now be bought at Rs. 10,599. It is also no longer online-exclusive and can be grabbed from brick-and-mortar retailers as well.
This week was also exciting for smartphone camera enthusiasts as Oppo teased its 10x hybrid optical zoom camera for smartphones. The new camera module expands on the company's previously showcased 5x hybrid optical zoom technology and now packs a triple camera setup. The new setup includes an ultrawide-angle camera, a primary camera, and a third camera with periscope style setup for the telephoto action. The Chinese smartphone maker has promised to reveal more details at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.
The company also talked about a new in-display fingerprint sensor that has a 15-times bigger active area than the competing sensor. Oppo wasn't the only one talking about new in-display fingerprint sensor, Xiaomi also teased a new sensor, which has an expanded sensor active area. The company, however, didn't reveal when we can actually see it in a smartphone.
Several important entertainment-related developments also made headlines this week, leading with the Game of Thrones season eight premier date. Late last-Sunday HBO released the first teaser for the final season of the Game of Thrones (GoT) and announced that the season will premiere on April 15. The Indian fans of the series will be able to watch it on Hotstar or Star World. There are only six episodes in the last season, but they are most likely going to be feature-length.
Game of Thrones and other entertainment news
GoT has become a pop culture juggernaut over the last several years with audience size increasing with every passing season. HBO is already working on several spin-offs of the TV series, which is based on A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin.
Spider-Man may have turned to dust at the end of Avengers: Infinity War but that didn't stop the Web Slinger from appearing in the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home. This Sony-produced sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is scheduled to hit the cinema halls on July 5, over a month after Avengers: Endgame graces the screen on April 26. The Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer may have “spoiled” the fate of Spider-Man, but the same remains unclear for other Avengers, who were turned to dust at the end of Infinity War.
In a surprise move, Netflix, Hotstar, Jio, and six other streaming services came together earlier this week to sign a voluntary self-regulation code. This code will define what kind of content is not allowed on these streaming platforms, including anything that disrespects the national flag or emblem, has children engaged in real or simulated sex, offends religious sentiments, and promotes or encourages terrorism. Amazon Prime Video as well as smaller players like Hungama and Viu were missing from the signatories of this code of conduct.
PUBG in the news
Moving to gaming, PUBG continued to make news, whether it was for an update to the mobile version of the game or a student body's call to ban it or for the release of a clone from Xiaomi. First, the PUBG Mobile 0.10.5 update was released this week and brings the “classic” voice option, Royale Pass Season 5, and more. The Jammu & Kashmir Students Association on Thursday asked the state's governor Satya Pal Naik to ban the game Immediately. The student body blamed the game for poor results and dubbed it as a “future spoiler.” Lastly, Xiaomi released its PUBG-like Survival Game in Mi Apps store on January 17.
Fortnite on Tuesday introduced a new update with version number 7.20, which is available on all platforms. The update adds a new One Shot Limited Time Mode, an arctic island to the game's Creative Mode, as well as a new weapon in the scoped revolver. There are some platform-specific fixes on-board as well.
Among other key developments from the week, Paytm partnered with Zomato to offer online food ordering on its platform, taking on the likes of Swiggy and Foodpanda. Elsewhere, Myntra and Jabong CEO Ananth Narayanan stepped down to pursue external opportunities.
Spotify seems to finally have an India launch date. It is still unofficial, but the company's terms and conditions indicate that we could see Spotify in the country on January 31. The music streaming giant recently partnered with T-Series for its massive content library.
Also, Google bought some tech from Fossil and Samsung's upcoming 5G phone maybe called Samsung Galaxy S10 X. The Galaxy S10 X, along with Galaxy F, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10E, and Galaxy S10+, is expected to unveiled on February 20.
Disclosure: Paytm's parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.