Redmi Note 7's India debut, Redmi Note 7 Pro launch, Samsung Galaxy M30 release, and the announcement of 2019 Galaxy A Series models were some of the developments that ruled the headlines this week. Further, being the Mobile World Congress (MWC) week, a number of launches from the world's top mobile fair also dominated the tech news, including the first foldable phone from Huawei, LG's new G8 ThinQ/ G8s ThinQ phones, and the new Nokia 9 PureView with five rear cameras.
Starting with this week's big launches in India, the arrival of the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro was clearly the talk of the town. Given the buzz surrounding the Redmi Note 7, the Xiaomi fans were pretty excited about this 48-megapixel camera phone, however the company had a few surprises in store. The Chinese smartphone maker launched a trimmed down version of the Redmi Note 7 in the country with a significantly downgraded rear camera setup, however the Redmi Note 7 Pro joined the phone as the real successor to the Redmi Note 6 Pro.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro is going to be the flagship Redmi phone in the Indian market. Set to go on sale beginning March 13, the smartphone sports Xiaomi's new “Aura Design” with 6.3-inch Full-HD+ screen with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and Dot Notch. Both front and back of the phone are covered by 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5 and the company is including gradient finish on two colour variants of the phone. The Redmi Note 7 Pro packs a dual camera setup on the back, which houses a 48-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.79 lens and a 5-megapixel secondary depth sensor. It is powered by 11nm manufacturing process-based octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro will be sold in India starting Rs. 13,999 for the 4GB + 64GB variant, whereas the 6GB + 128GB version will be offered at Rs. 16,999. There are going to be three colour options - Neptune Blue, Nebula Red, and Space Black.
On other hand, Redmi Note 7 will be available in the country starting March 6. The phone shares a number of features with the Redmi Note 7 Pro, but there are a number of significant differences as well. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core SoC and the rear dual camera setup includes 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors. Also, Xiaomi is only offering the 32GB and 64GB versions of the Redmi Note 7 in India, which will be sold at Rs. 9,999 and Rs. 11,999 respectively. According to the company, it will be offering the Redmi Note 7 in three colour options as well — Onyx Black, Ruby Red, and Sapphire Blue.
A month after introducing the India-first Galaxy M Series, Samsung added a new model to the lineup in the form of Galaxy M30 this week. The smartphone is a step up from the existing Galaxy M20 and Galaxy M10 phones, but it keeps the design aesthetic of the previous models. The Samsung Galaxy M30 has been priced at Rs. 14,990 for the base variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage. The higher-end model of the Samsung Galaxy M30, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of inbuilt storage, carries a price tag of Rs. 17,990. The first sale of the smartphone is scheduled for 12pm IST (Noon) on March 7, the company revealed. It will be offered via Samsung Online Shop and Amazon in the country.
In terms of the specifications, the Samsung Galaxy M30 runs on Android Oreo with Samsung Experience UI. It is powered by octa-core Exynos 7904 processor and packs a 6.4-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-U screen. There is a triple-camera setup on the back of the smartphone, which houses a 13-megapixel primary RGB sensor with f/1.9 aperture, a 5-megapixel depth sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with a 123-degree Field-of-View (FOV) and an f/2.2 aperture. On the front, the company has included a 16-megapixel sensor with support for selfie focus.
Additionally, Samsung has included a massive 5,000mAh battery, a rear fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock support, and USB Type-C port in the smartphone on the Galaxy M30. In our brief hands-on experience of the Samsung Galaxy M30, we found the phone to be snappy, and it could be quite an attractive offering in its price bracket. The phone will be competing with Xiaomi's brand-new Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Not content with just Galaxy M Series, Samsung also launched its 2019 Galaxy A Series phones in India this week. The company announced the new Galaxy A10, Galaxy A30, and Galaxy A50 phones. While the Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 were originally introduced the MWC in Barcelona, the Galaxy A10 made its international debut in the country. While the Galaxy A10 will join the Galaxy M10 in the entry-level segment, the Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 will cater to consumers looking for phones for over Rs. 15,000.
Samsung is not opting for the online-only or flash sale model with the Galaxy A10, Galaxy A30, and Galaxy 50 phones and the latter two are already on sale in the country via major e-retailers and brick-and-mortar stores. The Galaxy A10 will go on sale beginning March 20.
Featuring 6.4-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) Super AMOLED Infinity-U screens, the Samsung Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 smartphones run on Android 9 Pie with One UI. The phones also pack 4,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging via USB Type-C port. Among other specifications, the Galaxy A50 is powered by octa-core Exynos 9610 SoC and includes a 25-megapixel front shooter. There is a triple rear camera setup on the back of the phone as well, which houses a 25-megapixel sensor along with an auto-focus f/1.7 lens, a 5-megapixel sensor with a fixed-focus f/2.2 lens, and an 8-megapixel sensor with a fixed-focus f/2.2 lens.
The Galaxy A30, on the other hand, is powered by octa-core Exynos 7904 SoC and packs a 16-megapixel selfie camera with a fixed-focus f/2.0 lens. It also comes with a dual rear camera setup that comprises of a 16-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 lens and a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 lens.
Samsung Galaxy A10, the most affordable of the three, sports a 6.2-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) Infinity-V Display panel. It comes with an octa-core Exynos 7884 SoC, along with 2GB of RAM. There is a single, 13-megapixel camera sensor at the back that comes along with an f/1.9 lens. For selfies, the company has packed a 5-megapixel camera sensor at the front along with an f/2.0 lens. Samsung has also provided 32GB of inbuilt storage on the Galaxy A10 that is expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB).
HMD Global came to the MWC 2019 with a number of new phones in hand, including the much-anticipated Nokia 9 PureView with five rear cameras. The company also showcased the Nokia 3.2, Nokia 4.2, Nokia 1 Plus, and the Nokia 210. The Nokia 9 PureView was the star of the show for the company, drawing mixed reactions from the MWC attendees ranging from “crazy quality” to “too many cameras.” The phone's penta-camera setup includes five identical f/1.82 lenses with three monochrome and two RGB sensors. Every time the shutter is released all five cameras shoot a photo with different exposure settings, which are then fused together to create a single image.
Nokia 9 PureView specifications include a 5.99-inch Quad-HD+ (1440x2960 pixels) pOLED screen with 18.5:9 aspect ratio and an in-display fingerprint sensor. The Nokia 9 also packs 6GB of RAM, 128GB of inbuilt storage, and 3,320mAh battery with wireless charging support. Additionally, the company has included the connectivity options like Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC. The Nokia PureView is also IP67 certified for water and dust resistance and packs a USB Type-C port. There is no 3.5mm audio jack though.
Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 are two affordable Android One smartphones with features like HD+ screens, two-days battery life, up to 3GB of RAM, and up to 32GB of inbuilt storage. The Nokia 1 Plus is the company's new Android Go phone and includes a 5.45-inch FWVGA IPS display along with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Under the hood, there is a quad-core MediaTek MT6739WW SoC, coupled with 1GB of RAM.
Moving on to LG, the company talked mostly about its smartphones in Barcelona as it showcased the new LG G8 ThinQ, G8s ThinQ and the V50 ThinQ, the last being the company's first 5G phone. Apart from being your standard flagship phones, the LG G8 ThinQ and G8s ThinQ bring a couple of very interesting new features like Hand ID and Crystal Sound OLED. The Hand ID is a biometric authentication method that uses the veins in your palm for identification and authentication. The company is using infrared sensor as well as ToF Z Camera placed in the phone's notch section for Hand ID. The company is using the same sensor to bring gesture support as well to the phone. The Crystal Sound OLED, on the other hand, uses the OLED screen present in the G8 ThinQ to produce sound. It is unclear if the G8s ThinQ is getting the feature or not.
Among the internals, the LG G8 ThinQ and G8s ThinQ feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, 6GB of RAM, and Android 9 Pie. While the G8 ThinQ sports a 6.1-inch Quad-HD+ screen, the G8s ThinQ has a 6.2-inch Full-HD+ panel.
Sony came to the Mobile World Congress this year with four market-ready phones and a 5G prototype, which is pretty much a mystery at this point. The company's new Xperia 1, Xperia 10, Xperia 10 Plus, and Xperia L3 will be reaching the markets around the world over the next few months. The Sony phones, except the Xperia L3, sport screens with 21.9 aspect ratio and run on Android 9 Pie. The Sony Xperia L3 features an 18:9 screen and Android 8 Oreo.
Coming to other specifications of the Sony phones, the Sony Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship, sports a 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED CinemaWide display and is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. The phone also packs 6GB of RAM, 128GB of inbuilt storage, triple rear camera setup at the back, 8-megapixel front shooter, and a 3,300mAh battery.
On the other hand, the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus come with dual rear cameras, USB Type-C port, 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth v5.0, and NFC. Sony Xperia 10 has a 6-inch Full-HD+ screen, joined by Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC and 3GB of RAM, whereas the larger Xperia 10 Plus comes with 6.5-inch Full-HD+ with Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC and 4GB of RAM.
The last of the new Sony phones - Xperia L3 – is already reaching select markets around the world. It is an entry-level smartphone and packs features likes 5.7-inch HD+ IPS display, MediaTek MT6762 Helio P22 octa-core processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage.
Coming to Xiaomi, as expected the company gave the world a look at its upcoming 5G variant of the Mi Mix 3 phone as well as it revealed when the Mi 9 will hit the European markets. Xiaomi notes that Mi Mix 3G 5G version will be "one of the world's first commercially available 5G smartphones.” It is set to go on sale in Europe starting May. In terms of the specifications, the only change is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. The Mi Mix 3 5G packs a 6.4-inch Full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) OLED display, a dual rear camera setup, and 3,800mAh battery.
Among other 5G phones, ZTE talked about its Axon 10 Pro 5G phone and OnePlus barely mentioned anything about its upcoming 5G phone. Like pretty much all 5G phones announced at MWC, both ZTE and OnePlus 5G phones are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. Not many details are known about either of the devices.
In terms of the foldable smartphones, which seemed to dominate the conversation at this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei was the only smartphone maker that came to MWC 2019 with a pretty much market ready device in the form of Mate X. Rest of the smartphone makers either showed off a prototype or merely mentioned that they are working on their own foldable phones. The Huawei Mate X, which clearly looks like a very impressive smartphone, also packs 5G connectivity. The phone will go on sale around mid-2019 with an insane price tag of EUR 2,299 (roughly Rs. 2,09,400). The Mate X sports a large 8-inch OLED screen that folds to turn the device into a smartphone with a 6.38-inch display on the front and 6.6-inch display on the back. The phone runs Android Pie and is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC, coupled with 8GB RAM. There is 512GB of onboard storage and two batteries that jointly offer 4,500mAh of capacity.
In other MWC 2019 news, Lenovo announced a new number of new laptops, one all-in-one computer, a new tablet, one monitor, and a few accessories. TCL Communication unveiled three Android phones and a new Android tablet with optional Audio Station, whereas Huawei expanded the availability of MateBook 13 outside United States, introduced the new MateBook 14 laptop, and the upgraded MateBook X. Google also made several Assistant-related announcements during the mobile fair, including that it will be coming to Android Messages and be available in seven Indic languages. The search giant has also revealed several partnerships with smartphone makers, who will be including dedicated Google Assistant buttons on their phones. Finally, Microsoft unveiled the new HoloLens 2 at the event. This mixed reality headset brings a tonne of improvements such as a better display, more comfortable design, improved gesture controls, and better performance coupled with higher power efficiency.
Back from Barcelona to India, Samsung revealed this week that it will be launching its flagship Galaxy S10 lineup in the country on March 6. The company has already announced the prices of the Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy S10e for the Indian market. The Galaxy S10 has been priced at Rs. 66,900 for the 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant, Rs. 84,900 for the 8GB RAM/ 512GB storage model. On the other hand, the Galaxy S10+ price in India begins at Rs. 73,900 for the 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage option, going up to Rs. 91,900 for the 8GB RAM/ 512GB option, and Rs. 1,17,900 for the 12GB RAM/ 1TB storage configuration. The Samsung Galaxy S10e will retail at Rs. 55,900 for the lone 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant. All three phones are now on pre-order via Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, and other retailers.
Black Shark, which is a gaming smartphone maker backed by Xiaomi, entered the Indian market this week. The company sent out a press release announcing the arrival and revealing that it is setting up base in Bengaluru. Black Shark appears to be in the process of setting up its India operations and said that it will announce an “official” launch date later. Other than smartphones, we can also expect the company to bring its peripherals such as the Gamepad 2.0 controller, along with its gaming smartphones.
Oppo announced a big price cut for its R17 Pro phone in the country. This Oppo phone was launched in the country in December last year with a price tag of Rs. 45,990 but now it will retail at just Rs. 39,990. The revised price is already live on Amazon India, but there is no clarity on the pricing in offline channels. In other smartphone related news, Asus revealed the names of its smartphones that will be getting the Android Pie update.
In telecom news, this week was pretty quiet apart from revised prepaid packs from Vodafone and BSNL, and the latter discontinuing five long-validity prepaid recharge plans. First, Vodafone updated its Rs. 509 prepaid recharge pack with 1.5GB data per day for 90 days. The revised recharge also includes unlimited voice calls and 100 SMS messages per day along with access to the Vodafone Play app that brings live TV and movies. BSNL updated the offerings of its Rs. 666 prepaid pack. The revised pack now includes unlimited voice calling benefits and 1.5GB data per day for 122 days. There are also 100 SMS messages per day throughout the given validity period. The state-owned telecom operator also said to have discontinued its Rs. 549, Rs. 561, Rs. 2,798, Rs. 3,998, and Rs. 4,498 data-only prepaid recharge plans.
In pop culture and entertainment, the week began with announcement of 2019 Oscars, where Green Book won the Best Picture and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse grabbed the Best Animated Feature Film. Black Panther also managed snatch three Academy Awards and Netflix's Roma nabbed the same number of Oscars. The Oscars were followed by 21st Century Fox's new trailer for the Dark Phoenix, in which the studio teased the impending demise of a beloved X-Men character. Rami Malek, who won the Oscar for Best Actor, is reportedly in talks to play the villain in Bond 25 film and CBS All Access announced that it has renewed the Star Trek: Discovery for a third season. The show is streamed on Netflix outside the United States.
Spotify also finally made its India debut this week. The music streaming service is now available in both premium and free tiers.
Lastly, in gaming news, Fortnite season 8 debuted this week and with it arrived a huge list of changes to the game. The Ice King's castle had a powerful prisoner who's now free. This prisoner has brought fire and flame to Fortnite, which means that there's new treasure as well. There are several map changes, a new battle pass, and a new item in the form of Pirate Cannon.
Are the affordable Realme 3 and Samsung Galaxy M30 smartphones worth buying? We discussed these things 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.