Samsung Galaxy A70's launch in India was perhaps the biggest news highlight this week, while the South Korean giant also launched two other Galaxy A-series models, the Galaxy A60 and Galaxy A40s. The entry-level Galaxy A2 Core also made its way into India this week. Xiaomi and Realme this week both teased major launches for India, with the Redmi Y3 and Realme 3 Pro both due to be unveiled in the next few days. OnePlus 7 teasers have also begun to appear, with the smartphone's launch date due to be revealed tomorrow. Read on, for the top news stories this week, including Flipkart announcing a ‘Super Value' sale, a few new WhatsApp features being spotted, and more.
Samsung Galaxy A70 was globally unveiled alongside the Samsung Galaxy A80 at events in Bangkok, Milan, and Sao Paulo earlier this month, and the company brought it to Indian shores this week. The smartphone's highlight is its on-screen fingerprint sensor, triple rear camera setup, its 32-megapixel selfie camera, as well as its Infinity-U Display. The Samsung Galaxy A70 price in India has been set at Rs. 28,990, for its 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant.
In terms of specifications, the Samsung Galaxy A70 is a dual-SIM smartphone with Android Pie with One UI, a 6.7-inch full-HD+ (1080x2400 pixels) Super AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 675 SoC, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB) with a dedicated slot. The Samsung Galaxy A70 sports a triple rear camera setup as we'd mentioned, with a 32-megapixel primary camera (f/1.70), 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera (f/2.2), and a 5-megapixel (f/2.2) depth camera with an f/2.2 lens. It is powered by a 4,500mAh battery with 27W ‘Super-Fast Charging' tech.
Samsung has also revealed that the Galaxy A80 will be launched in India in May, priced between Rs. 45,000 and Rs. 50,000. The company also announced that the Galaxy A-series has sold 2 million units in India within 40 days of launch. The South Korean giant launched two Galaxy A-series smartphones in China this week as well, the first we are seeing of the Galaxy A60 and Galaxy A40s.
The Samsung Galaxy A60 price is set at CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 20,700) for the 6GB/ 128GB variant, while the Samsung Galaxy A40s price is set at CNY 1,499 (roughly Rs. 15,600) for the 6GB/ 64GB variant. The Galaxy A60 offers Android 9.0 Pie, a 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) Infinity-O Display, a Snapdragon 675 SoC, 6GB of RAM, choice of 64GB and 128GB inbuilt storage options, a triple rear camera setup (32-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 5-megapixel), a 32-megapixel selfie camera, a rear fingerprint sensor, a 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging support. The Galaxy A40s on the other hand features a 6.4-inch Infinity-U Display, an octa-core Samsung Exynos 7904 SoC, a triple rear camera setup (13-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 5-megapixel), a rear fingerprint sensor, and a 5,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging.
It's evident that Samsung had a busy week, and in India also launched an entry-level smartphone called the Galaxy A2 Core. It runs Android 9.0 Pie (Go edition), which is a stripped-down version of Android optimised for low RAM and storage configurations. Priced at Rs. 5,290, the smartphone is available via offline retail stores in the country, and for now, there's no information about when it will become available via online stores.
The Samsung Galaxy A2 Core sports a 5-inch qHD (540x960 pixels) display, an octa-core Exynos 7870 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel selfie camera, 16GB of inbuilt storage expandable by microSD card, and a 2,600mAh battery. While more official specifications haven't been detailed, we can expect Samsung to have launched the smartphone in Black and Blue colour, as previous leaks detailed, as well as the dual-SIM variant for India.
The Realme 3 Pro is due to launch in India on Monday, April 22, and ahead of that date, the company started taking 'pre-bookings' in the form of 'Blind Orders', the company's terminology for a lucky draw for invites (called R-Pass) to buy the Realme 3 Pro in its first sale. Separately, this week, Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth said that the Realme 3 Pro will be capable of producing 64-megapixel images with its Ultra HD mode, though details on exactly how this will work are still scarce.
A Flipkart teaser page for the Realme 3 Pro also went live, indicating it will be Flipkart exclusive smartphone. Camera samples shared by the company also tipped that the Realme 3 Pro would offer good low-light photography performance. Other recent teasers tipped a super slo-mo mode, a burst mode called Speed Shot, and HyperBoost gaming performance enhancement tech.
Earlier, the Realme 3 Pro was spotted on GeekBench and Bluetooth SIG, and it is listed to run on Android 9 Pie based on Color OS 6.0. The phone should feature a 6.3-inch full-HD display, and pack Snapdragon 710 SoC paired with 6GB of RAM. The Realme 3, on the other hand, is powered by the Helio P70 SoC paired with up to 4GB RAM.
To compete with the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the Realme 3 Pro specifications should align with its competition or be better. The Realme 3 Pro is expected to sport a 48-megapixel sensor, but other camera tech details remain scarce at the moment.
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau this week began teasing the launch of the company's next flagship – what is anticipated to be called the OnePlus 7. The first real teaser came along on Wednesday, when Lau revealed the smartphone would be “Fast and Smooth”.
On Friday, Lau revealed the OnePlus 7 launch date would be announced on Tuesday, April 23. An earlier leak from a reliable tipster had claimed a May 14 launch date, and we don't have long to wait for confirmation of this. The same tipster also claimed OnePlus 7 would be launched alongside one other model, the OnePlus 7 Pro, with another leak tipping the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G model was also in the pipeline.
OnePlus 7 Pro has previously been claimed to come with a Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 90Hz, which may fit well with the teaser of “Smooth”. This is unlike all the previous OnePlus phones that had a full-HD+ display with the 60Hz refresh rate. The enhancements would help the new OnePlus model deliver smoother graphics over the predecessors.
it's also been said that the OnePlus 7 Pro would have USB Type-C v3.1, and a 4,000mAh battery along with Warp Charge 30W fast charging tech. The phone is also claimed to have dual speakers and triple rear camera setup with wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
The Redmi Y3 is set to launch in India on Wednesday, April 24. Xiaomi has been teasing the smartphone these past couple of weeks, and so far based on the teasers, we know it will bear a 32-megapixel selfie camera, a 4,000mAh battery, and a gradient finish. The Redmi Y3 can be expected to launch as the Redmi S3 in China, if previous launches of the Redmi Y2 as the Redmi S2 are any indication.
Separately, Xiaomi India chief Manu Kumar Jain teased the launch of the Redmi 7 alongside, a smartphone that was only recently launched in China. A teaser tweet by Jain highlighted the number 7, and though the announcement itself echoed an earlier one about 7 million Redmi Y-series shipments in India since their launch in the country, the number 7 was made to stand out regardless. It would be fitting for Xiaomi to bring the Redmi 7 to India too, as the company's signature models in the its affordable Redmi and Redmi Note series have historically been launched in both India and China.
To recall, the Redmi 7 was launched in China last month, and it was priced at CNY 699 (roughly Rs. 7,100) for the 2GB/ 16GB variant, CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 8,200) for the 3GB/ 32GB variant, and CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 10,200) for the top 4GB/ 64GB. The Redmi 7 sports MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie, a 6.26-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) display, an octa-core Snapdragon 632 SoC, a dual rear camera setup (12-megapixel + 2-megapixel), an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 4,000mAh battery.
The Honor 20i is the first smartphone in the Honor 20-series, which is expected to see other models launched this year, such as the Honor 20, Honor 20 Pro, Honor 20X, and others, expected to be unveiled at the company's global Honor 20 event in London on May 21. The smartphone has been launched in four variants in China, 4GB/ 128GB at CNY 1,599 (roughly Rs. 16,600), 6GB/ 64GB at CNY 1,599 (roughly Rs. 16,600), 6GB/ 128GB at CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 19,700), 6GB/ 256GB at CNY 2,199 (roughly Rs. 22,800), and the AAPE Edition at CNY 2,199 (roughly Rs. 22,800).
Honor 20i specifications include EMUI 9.0.1 based on Android Pie, a 6.21-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) display, an octa-core Kirin 710F SoC, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of inbuilt storage, a triple rear camera setup (24-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 2-megapixel ), a 32-megapixel selfie camera, and a 3,400mAh battery.
Asus ZenFone Live L2 was unveiled this week thanks to a listing on the company's global site. Asus has not detailed price or a release date. The ZenFone Live L2 is an entry-level smartphone looking at its specifications.
The ZenFone Live L2 features ZenUI 5 based on Android Oreo, a 5.5-inch HD (720x1440 pixels) IPS display, a quad-core Snapdragon 430 or Snapdragon 425 SoC depending on the market, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of inbuilt storage, a dedicated microSD card slot (up to 2TB), a 13-megapixel or 8-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel selfie camera, and a 3,000mAh battery.
This week, Taiwanese electronics giant Asus also slashed the prices of two of its budget smartphones in India – the ZenFone Max M1 and the ZenFone Lite L1. Launched together in October last year, the smartphones have both received Rs. 2,000 price cuts. The ZenFone Max M1 is now available at Rs. 6,999, down from its Rs. 8,999 launch price, while the ZenFone Lite L1 is now available at Rs. 4,999, down from its Rs. 6,999 launch price.
Flipkart Super Value Week sale announced, dates and deals
Flipkart announced its Super Value Week sale, lasting from Tuesday, April 23 to Monday, April 29 the next week. Amongst the offers, the e-commerce site has announced its Complete Mobile Protection service will be available for as little as Rs. 99 across a range of phones, and that additional exchange discount offers can also be availed by buyers. Notably, this is the second Super Value Week sale Flipkart will run in 2019.
The Flipkart Complete Mobile Protection service covers screen damage, water damage, hardware or software defects, brand authorised repairs, as well as pick up and drops. As we mentioned, Flipkart is also offering ‘additional exchange value' on old phones, which means the company will be offering a discount on exchange over and above the regular exchange value.
Several companies this week confirmed the launch dates of their upcoming smartphones. Let's start with the Nubia Red Magic 3 gaming smartphone – Nubia has revealed the smartphone will launch on April 28.
Xiaomi, Nokia, Samsung, and other major smartphone software updates this week
A bunch of smartphone software updates started to roll out this week, ranging from official announcements to user reports of a rollout. Let's start with Xiaomi's rollout of the MIUI 10 Global Stable ROM v10.2.8.0.PFHINXM for the Redmi Note 7 Pro. With the update, the popular smartphone gets camera upgrades such as sharpness improvements, a fix for an underexposure issue in portrait mode, fixes for low light issues, as well as improvements for auto white balance. Apart from camera-related changes, other UI, gestures, and display fixes also made it through with the update, apart from the March Android security update.
HMD Global this week began rolling out the March Android security update for three of its smartphones – the Nokia 5, Nokia 6, and Nokia 8 – as per user reports. Alongside, the April Android security update was rolled out for the Nokia 9 PureView, and it was said to bring speed improvements to the camera as well as in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock. Google in the meanwhile rolled out an update to the Google Camera app that brought Photobooth to the Pixel 3 series of smartphones, offering automatic selfie taking options.
Finally, Samsung rolled out updates to the Galaxy S10 – bringing a Night mode option in the camera app, the Galaxy M20 – bringing improvements in charging performance, as well as the Galaxy A5, Galaxy A8, and Galaxy J5 Prime, all of which received the April Android security update. The Galaxy J6 also began receiving its Android Pie update, with the company's One Ui on top, in India.
Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited released its report on financial and operational performance for the past quarter, ending March 31, this week. In it, it detailed various statistics, including the fact it now had 306.7 million subscribers, gaining 26.6 million the quarter. Separately, the Jio TV app added four new exclusive HD channels – specifically, Jio Bollywood Premium HD, Jio Bollywood Classic HD, Jio Tamil Hits HD, and Jio Telugu Hits HD.
Opensignal also released its April 2019 report this week detailing 4G availability across the globe, and claimed Reliance Jio current held the top place with a record availability score of 97.5 percent at a country level. Separately, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) this week released its telecom subscription report for the month of February, finding that Jio and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) were the only operators to have gained subscribers in the period, while all others lost subscribers.
Speaking about BSNL, the state-owned telecom operator reportedly unveiled cashbacks on its annual and semi-annual postpaid plans, up to 25 percent of the plan value. The company also updated its Rs. 666 prepaid recharge to give it a validity of 134 days, up from 129 days. Separately, the long-validity carrying Rs. 999 and Rs. 2,099 recharge plans were discontinued.
Vodafone this week launched a new long-term prepaid recharge for select subscribers, a Rs. 999 prepaid recharge pack that offers 12GB of data, unlimited voice calling, 100 SMS messages per day benefits, and a 365-day validity. Separately, the telecom operator also introduced a Rs. 16 recharge that delivers 1GB of data with a single day's validity.
Finally, Airtel this week reportedly started offering a 1-year Norton Mobile Security subscription for free to prepaid subscribers with plans priced at Rs. 199 and above. Eligible subscribers can reportedly avail the free security service subscription via the My Airtel app and the Airtel website.
WhatsApp's new features, Facebook mishaps and announcements
The popular instant messaging app WhatsApp this week was spotted to be testing several new features across platforms, from Android to iPhone to Web. The most recent of these was the new style for emojis in Status updates, spotted in the Android beta v2.19.110 app but disabled by default. Next, a report claimed WhatsApp was working on animated stickers for its Android, iPhone, and Web platforms. Finally, WhatsApp was spotted testing a new doodle UI in the Android beta v2.19.106 app, and while the framework for blocking screenshots when biometric authentication was enabled was also spotted.
WhatsApp was also in the news this week for an outage on the last Sunday, in fact part of a wider Facebook outage that affected the Facebook Messenger app and Instagram as well. Separately, Facebook was reportedly spotted to still be hosting videos of the Christchurch mosque shooting that shocked the world last month when it was live streamed and shared across social networks.
Of course, that was not the only controversy that Facebook found itself in this week. In fact, it's becoming harder for a week to go by without another shocking revelation of a privacy gaffe by the social networking behemoth. There were two other debacles this week, with Facebook first admitting it had ‘unintentionally uploaded' the email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016. The second gaffe was a revision to an earlier admission, upping the number of affected Instagram users in a plain-text password storage issue from tens of thousands to millions.
Facebook this week also confirmed it was working on a voice-based and AI-powered virtual assistant, something that could be thought of as the company's answer to Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, and Apple's Siri. Facebook Messenger's dark mode this week began rolling out globally, after being launched for select countries last month.
Google-Amazon end streaming services spat, PUBG Mobile update rolls out, and other news this week
Google and Amazon finally ended their streaming services spat this week – Google announced it was bringing its YouTube streaming devices, while Amazon announced it would allow Chromecast and Android TV users to stream its Prime Video service.
Those weren't the only streaming related announcements from the Internet giants this week however, with both rivalling Spotify to offer a free streaming services for owners of devices in their ecosystem. Specifically, Amazon is now offering a free, ad-supported tier of its Amazon Music service to buyers of its Echo and Alexa-based devices, while Google is now offering a YouTube Music for free to buyers of the Google Home and Google Assistant-powered smart speakers. The decision to offer free music streaming services are thought to be moves to rival Spotify and its free ad-supported tier.
Google this week also reportedly began rolling out dark mode on the stable version of its Chrome browser for Android, after weeks of testing. It was alongside spotted testing a Reader Mode on Chrome for desktop's Canary channel.
BlackBerry made it to the news this week when it announced it would offer the BlackBerry Messenger Enterprise (BBMe) application to individual users for free for the first year, in response to the announcement by Emtek that it was shutting down the once popular BBM app. Emtek is an Indonesia-based developer that had taken over development of the app back in 2016.
In gaming news this week, PUBG Mobile received its 0.12 update on Android and iOS, bringing features like Zombie: Darkest Night, spectator mode, EvoZone event mode, and much more. PUBG Mobile was also in the news for announcement of dates for the PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019.