Samsung Galaxy A71 launch in India on Wednesday was certainly the biggest news of the week, with the South Korean electronics giant quietly bringing its latest mid-range smartphone to the country with nary a teaser. Another significant India launch this week was the LG W10 Alpha, the latest budget smartphone from the brand after unveiling the W-series in the country last year. LG also unveiled new K-series smartphones globally this week. The past 7 days also saw Xiaomi cut the price of the Redmi Note 8 Pro in India, after raising the price of the Redmi Note 8 the week before. Transsion Holdings also made a few splashes this week, with the launch of three new smartphones under it Itel and Tecno brands. WhatsApp made headlines for a couple of interesting reasons this week, while digital payments in India may have received a crippling blow. Read on for all the top stories of the week past.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 was unveiled globally late last year alongside the Galaxy A51, which made its way to India earlier this year. As we mentioned, Samsung made the Galaxy A71 India launch announcement without any teasers leading up to it, though plenty of rumours had tipped its arrival int the interim.
Featuring an Infinity-O Display and a quad rear camera setup, the latest mid-range offering from Samsung takes on the OnePlus 7, Oppo Reno, Redmi K20 Pro, and the Vivo V17 Pro at its price point of Rs. 29,999. It has been launched in a single 8GB+128GB variant in the country. The Samsung Galaxy A71 will go on sale in India from Monday, February 24 via both offline and online channels.
Specifications of the dual-SIM Galaxy A71 model that's been launched include Android 10 (with Samsung's One UI 2.0 skin atop), a massive 6.7-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 730 SoC, 8GB of RAM, a quad rear camera setup (64-megapixel + 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 5-megapixel sensor), and a 32-megapixel front camera.
Other specifications of the Samsung Galaxy A71 include 128GB of inbuilt storage (expandable via microSD card), the standard bunch of connectivity options including a USB Type-C port, the expected set of sensors including an in-display fingerprint sensor, as well as a large 4,500mAh battery featuring 25W fast charge support. Samsung is also touting some 'make in India' features, including new visual cards in the messaging app, multilingual typing, the Finder discovery tool, Smart Crop for quick and easy screenshots.
The LG brand last year was used to launch new W-series budget smartphones in mid-2019 in India, and the W10 Alpha that launched in the country this week joins the lineup. Highlights of the LG W10 Alpha include an octa-core processor, a waterdrop-style display notch, AI-based camera as well as face unlock features, apart from a relatively large battery. The LG W10 Alpha has been priced at Rs. 9,999 for its lone 3GB RAM + 32GB storage configuration.
Specifications of the LG W10 Alpha include dual-SIM (Nano) support; Android 9 Pie; a 5.7-inch HD+ display; Unisoc SC9863 SoC, 3GB of RAM; an 8-megapixel rear camera; an 8-megapixel front camera; 32GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card; connectivity options that include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1, and a Micro-USB port. The LG W10 Alpha is powered by a 3,450mAh lithium-polymer battery. It has dimensions of 147.3x71x8.9mm and a weight of 170 grams.
LG this week launched three new smartphones - the LG K61, LG K51S, and LG K41S. The three smartphones are MIL-STD 810G certified, which means they are rugged offerings able to withstand a range of environmental conditions and shocks. Other similarities all three share include large 6.5-inch displays, massive 4,000mAh batteries, microSD card slots, and quad rear camera setups. As is standard practice for LG, the smartphones were unveiled globally without prices, but they will be announced in markets ahead of local availability.
Specifications of the LG K61 include a 6.5-inch full-HD+ display, an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, a quad rear camera setup (48-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 2-megapixel + 5-megapixel), and a 16-megapixel front camera. LG K51S specifications on the other hand include a 6.5-inch HD+ display, an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 64GB inbuilt storage, a quad camera setup (32-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 2-megapixel + 2-megapixel), and a 13-megapixel front camera.
Finally, the LG K41S sports a 6.5-inch HD+ display, an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of inbuilt storage, a quad rear camera setup (13-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 2-megapixel + 2-megapixel), and an 8-megapixel front camera.
As you'd probably recall, Xiaomi hiked prices of the Redmi Note 8 in India earlier this month, citing coronavirus impacts on its supply chain. This week, it cut prices of the Redmi Note 8 Pro in India. Only the base model of the popular Redmi Note 8 Pro smartphone has received a reduction in price, with other variants continuing to be sold at their earlier prices.
The base model of the Redmi Note 8 Pro features 6GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage, and it is now priced at Rs. 13,999 in India, which is a Rs. 1,000 price drop over its previous price of Rs. 14,999. To recall, the Redmi Note 8 Pro was launched in India back in October, and this actually represents the first reduction in price in the country since.
The other two Redmi Note 8 Pro variants available in the country, 6GB RAM + 128GB storage and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage - are still available at their launch prices of Rs. 15,999 and Rs. 17,999, correspondingly.
Transsion Holdings is a big name in the offline market in the country, and its many brands take on giants like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo in the budget segment. One of its brands - Itel - this week launched a new entry-level offering in India - Itel Vision 1 - boasting of highlight like a dual rear camera setup, a notched display, an octa-core SoC, and a massive 4,000mAh battery at its price point.
Priced at just Rs. 5,499, the Itel Vision 1 also comes bundled with Jio benefits as well as a Bluetooth headset worth Rs. 799 for buyers. Specifications of the Itel Vision 1 include dual-SIM support, Android 9 Pie, a 6-inch HD+ display, a Unisoc SC9863A processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card, and dual rear camera setup (8-megapixel + 0.08-megapixel), a 5-megapixel front camera, a 4,000mAh battery, a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, dimensions of 155.3x73.5x 8.5mm, and weight of 169 grams.
One of Transsion Holdings' other brands in India, Tecno this week launched two budget smartphones in the country - the Tecno Camon 15 and Tecno Camon 15 Pro - featuring quad rear camera setups. Amongst other claims, the company says the Tecno Camon 15 is the most affordable hole-punch display phone in the country - priced at Rs. 9,999. The Tecno Camon 15 Pro is priced Rs. 14,999, and comes with bundled wireless speakers worth Rs. 3,499.
In terms of specifications, the Tecno Camon 15 Pro features dual-SIM support, Android 10 with the HiOS 6.1 skin atop, a 6.53-inch full-HD+ display, a MediaTek Helio P35 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of inbuilt storage, a quad rear camera setup (48-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 2-megapixel + QVGA), a 32-megapixel pop-up front camera, and a 4,000mAh battery.
On the other hand, the Tecno Camon 15 comes with dual-SIM support, Android 10 with HiOS 6.1, a 6.55-inch HD+ display, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of inbuilt storage expandable via a microSD card (up to 256GB), a quad rear camera setup (helmed by a 48-megapixel primary camera), a 16-megapixel selfie camera, and a massive 5,000mAh battery.
Earlier this week, it was spotted that Google was indexing private group invites of WhatsApp. While the vulnerability of private invite links has long been known, the easy accessibility via a simple Google search caused some controversy. While both WhatsApp and Google gave statements about this being expected behaviour, the links disappeared from simple searches soon after.
Group invite links provide access to anyone possessing them, and thus WhatsApp has long warned users to not to share such links in public forums. But the fact they were readily indexed by Google is the real issue, with commentators quick to point out the links could have been hidden from search engine crawling. You can read all about the issue in our comprehensive coverage.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) this week announced it will revise both the UPI interchange fees and payment service provider (PSP) fees to zero for all domestic UPI merchant transactions, and this would be done retrospectively from January 1, 2020, effective until April 30 this year. The NPCI notified the changes in a circular. The move comes after the abolishment of the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR).
While there are benefits to be derived from the move, it also hits revenues of the burgeoning digital payments market in India, which has globally-backed providers like PhonePe, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay. Each of these players of invested heavily to grab a share of the growing UPI ecosystem. For now, it's uncertain how the fees collected since January 1 will be recovered by the government.
The week past had several significant headlines in the field of telecom, with the biggest perhaps being Google's announcement of winding down the Google Station free Wi-Fi service. The good news is, while Google is backing out, its partners will continue providing the free Wi-Fi facility. In India, Google had partnered with the government's mini-PSU, RailTel. To recall, the service had been launched back in 2015 as Google RailWire, and in recent years was expanded with local partners to other parts of the world. RailTel the service will continue at 415 railway stations across the country, after the Google contract ends.