The last week saw a number of launches in India, from smartphones to TVs and fitness bands, but it was the Redmi Note 6 Pro global unveiling that generated the most buzz. Of course, telecom carriers continue to battle it out with new recharges to lure subscribers. WhatsApp was in the news too for a variety of reasons and, separately, its parent company Facebook suffered a massive data breach. Flipkart and Amazon sale dates were also announced this week, and Amazon also unveiled a new service for Prime customers in India with no extra cost. So let’s dive straight into the biggest tech news of the week, starting with the Redmi Note 6 Pro launch.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro went official with an announcement in Thailand, though a hands-on video earlier this week claims it was already available for purchase in Dubai without any official announcement. The Xiaomi Thailand Facebook page and official Mi forum announced the arrival of Redmi Note 6 Pro, which features a dual camera setup in the front and a bigger display as the major upgrades. Going deeper into the specifications, the MIUI 10 smartphone has a 6.26-inch display with 19:9 aspect ratio and full-HD+ (1080x2280-pixel) resolution. It packs the same Snapdragon 636 processor that powers the predecessor, and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. This is the only configuration announced so far, but we can expect more variants in the future.
As for optics, the smartphone has a 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual camera setup on the back and a 20-megapixel + 2-megapixel setup in the front. Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro comes with AI Face Unlock as well as a rear fingerprint sensor for security. Lastly, for the battery, the smartphone has the same 4,000mAh battery as the last model, with a 2-day battery life. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro price has been set as THB 6,990 (about Rs. 15,700); there is no word on the smartphone’s India launch or price so far.
Xiaomi held an event in India this week, with the company announcing as many as seven new products in the country. First up is the Mi Band 3, a fitness tracker with a 0.78-inch OLED screen with 128x80-pixel resolution with tactile feedback, and a 110mAh battery that is touted to offer a 20-day battery life. The new Xiaomi fitness band has Bluetooth 4.2 LE for connectivity, is water-resistant up to 50 metres, and is compatible with devices running Android 4.4 KitKat or above as well as iOS 9.0 or higher. It can count steps, calories, and distance, measure heart rate, and display date and time. The Mi Band 3 provides real-time notifications from app messages, texts, and calls, and the Mi Fit apps takes care of sleep analysis. The Mi Band 3 price in India has been set as Rs. 1,999, and is available for purchase right now.
Next up are the three new smart TVs, the first Xiaomi has launched with Pro moniker. All three run Android TV platform based on Oreo, with promise of Android Pie build; users will be able to switch between Android TV as well as Xiaomi’s Patchwall UI. The Mi TV 4C Pro with 32-inch display, priced at Rs. 14,999, and has HD resolution (1366x768-pixels), 64-bit 1.5GHz quad-core Amlogic processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, two 10W speakers, two USB 2.0 ports, and 3 HDMI ports. Then there’s the Mi TV 4A Pro model with 49-inch screen, full-HD (1920x1080-pixel) resolution, and 2GB of RAM; the remaining features are the same as that of the smaller model. Last is the Mi TV 4 Pro with 55-inch display with 4K resolution (3840x2160-pixel), two 20W speakers, Bluetooth 4.2, and 2GB of RAM, with the remaining feature identical to the other new models.
Xiaomi also announced the three TVs support voice commands thanks to the Google Voice Search integration. It is bringing the Amazon Prime Video app to its Patchwall UI platform soon, though there is no official word on the Netflix app. New content will also be available via Eros Now, Jio Cinema, Hooq, and Epic. There’s also support for Google Play Store, Chromecast support built-in, and other Google apps like YouTube, Play Music, etc owing to the Android TV platform. The 32-inch and 49-inch models go on sale on October 9, while the bigger 55-inch variant will become available to purchase a day later.
Rounding up the list are a new air purifier, a home security camera, and a smart luggage. The new Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2S has an OLED panel with automatic brightness control and brings in features such as real-time air quality, surrounding temperature, humidity levels, and mode toggle. There’s a new high-precision laser sensor that can detect particulate matter as small as 0.3-micron in size, and its 360-degree triple layer filter can eliminate PM2.5 matters, allergens, and bacteria. Users can control it using not only the Mi Home app but also Google Assistant and Alexa digital assistant. The Mi Air Purifier 2S price in India is Rs. 8,999 and it is now available to buy in India.
The Mi Home Security Camera 360, as the name suggests, offers 360-degree viewing angles and can detect motion in the area being monitored thanks to AI integration. It can record full-HD videos and record videos in pitch darkness too. There’s support for the microSD cards up to 64GB, 2x zoom, and two-way communication. It is priced at Rs. 2,699 and goes on sale on October 10. The last new Xiaomi product in India, the Mi Luggage trolley travel bag and comes in 20-inch and 24-inch sizes, priced at Rs. 2,999 and Rs. 4,299, respectively. It is made of scratch-resistant Bayer Makrolon polycarbonate, has a TSA-approved lock, and 360-degree castor wheels. It will go on sale on October 10, with the smaller model in Blue, Grey, and Red colours and the bigger option in Blue and Grey hues.
The first Samsung smartphone with three rear cameras, the Galaxy A7 (2018) was launched in India this week and is already on sale. The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a 24-megapixel autofocus sensor, 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and 5-megapixel fixed-focus depth sensor; there’s also a 24-megapixel selfie camera with features such as Selfie Focus and Pro Lighting Mode. Other features of the Android 8.0 Oreo smartphone include 6-inch full-HD+ Infinity Display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, octa-core 2GHz Samsung Exynos 7885 processor, and 3,300mAh battery. The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) price in India is Rs. 23,990 for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage and Rs. 28,990 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage, both with up to 256GB microSD card support.
Another major smartphone launched in India this week was the Motorola One Power, which will compete with the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Part of the Android One programme, it has the Snapdragon 636 processor, 5,000mAh battery, and 6.2-inch full-HD+ display as its key highlights. The smartphone runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo software, with Android Pie beta build coming next month and final version by year-end. Key specifications include 4GB of RAM, 64GB of inbuilt storage, microSD card up to 256GB, 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear camera setup with 4K recording support, 12-megapixel selfie camera, and Turbo Charge support for fast-charging. The Motorola One Power price in India is Rs. 15,999.
Realme 2 Pro went official in India this week, with features such as Snapdragon 660 SoC, 6.3-inch display, up to 6GB RAM, and up to 128GB storage. The smartphone runs the Android 8.1 Oreo-based Color OS 5.2 custom UI, has the 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel rear camera setup, 16-megapixel selfie camera, and 3,500mAh battery. The Realme 2 Pro price in India has bee set as Rs. 13,990, Rs. 15,990, and Rs. 17,990 for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage, 6GB RAM + 64GB storage, and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage options, with storage support up to 256GB.
Vivo launched two smartphones in the Indian market this week, the Vivo V9 Pro and the Vivo V11. The Vivo V9 Pro is priced in India at Rs. 19,990 and going on sale as part of the Amazon Great India Festival sale at Rs. 17,990. It has a 6.3-inch full-HD+ screen with iPhone X-like display notch, Android 8.1 Oreo-based Funtouch OS 4.0, Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, 6GB RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and up to 256GB microSD card support. The Vivo V9 Pro smartphone, powered by a 3,260mAh battery, has a 13-megapixel + 2-megapixel camera setup on the back, and a 16-megapixel selfie camera.
The Vivo V11 price in India is Rs. 22,990, and it has a 6.3-inch full-HD+ AMOLED panel, Funtouch OS 4.5 custom UI based on Android 8.1 Oreo, MediaTek Helio P60 SoC, 6GB RAM, 64GB storage and up to 256GB microSD storage. The smartphone has a dual camera setup on the back with 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel sensors, while the front camera has 16-megapixel sensor. The Vivo V11 has a 3,315mAh battery, with support for 18W fast-chargers.
The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max were released in India this week via online and offline channels. To recall, the iPhone XS price in India is Rs. 99,900 for the 64GB variant, while its 256GB option comes at Rs. 1,14,900 and the 512GB model is available at Rs. 1,34,900. The iPhone XS Max costs Rs. 1,09,900, Rs. 1,24,900 and Rs. 1,44,900 for the 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB variants, respectively. The two smartphones are available via Flipkart, Amazon India, Paytm Mall, Airtel Online Store, Jio.com, and IndiaiStore.com, as well as offline stores. The iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch (1125x2234-pixel) display, while the iPhone XS Max sports a 6.5-inch (1242x2688-pixel) screen, both with OLED panels. Key features of the smartphones include the new 7nm A12 Bionic chipset, 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel dual rear cameras, 7-megapixel selfie camera, and IP68 certification for dust- and water-resistance.
The Nokia 5.1 Plus price in India was announced by Nokia brand licensee HMD Global this week. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 10,999 and will go on sale in the country on October 1 via Flipkart and Nokia Online Store. Its key features include a 5.86-inch HD+ (720x1520) display, stock Android 8.1 Oreo software, MediaTek Helio P60 SoC, 32GB internal storage, 3GB of RAM, and up to 400GB microSD card support. The Nokia 5.1 Plus also has 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear cameras, 8-megapixel selfie camera, and 3,060mAh battery.
Google Pixel 2 XL received a price cut in India this week, but only for the base 64GB storage variant. The Pixel 2 XL base variant now costs Rs. 45,499, down from its launch price of Rs. 73,000. However, the 128GB option is still officially priced at Rs. 82,000. However, we can expect it to become cheaper in the coming days as Google gears up to unveil the next-generation Pixel 3 series.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Youth Edition and Mi 8 Screen Fingerprint Edition smartphones are set to go global as the Mi 8 Lite and Mi 8 Pro, respectively. While the former’s global release was teased by the official Xiaomi Twitter handle, the latter’s global launch was confirmed by the company’s spokesperson Donovan Sung via a tweet. The Mi 8 Youth Edition has a 6.26-inch display, Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, up to 6GB RAM and up to 128GB storage, dual rear cameras, 3,350mAh battery, Face Unlock, and rear fingerprint sensor. On the other hand, the Mi 8 Screen Fingerprint Edition has an in-display fingerprint sensor, 6.21-inch display, Snapdragon 845 SoC, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB storage, and a 3,000mAh battery.
Oppo seems to be working a new variant of the Find X smartphone, this one featuring 10GB of RAM. Leaked thanks to a TENAA listing, the new variant has 10GB of RAM, 256GB of inbuilt storage, and a 3,645mAh battery. The remaining specifications seem identical to the standard Find X model, which was launched in India at Rs. 59,990. In other news from China, Lenovo has announced it will launch the Z5 Pro smartphone on October 1 in the country. The smartphone has a slider mechanism for the camera, similar to the one we have previously seen on the Oppo Find X, but works without a motor. There are no other details about the Lenovo Z5 Pro at the moment.
The Nokia 7 Plus Android 9.0 Pie update is rolling out now, but all eyes are on its successor, the Nokia 7.1 Plus. The upcoming HMD Global event being held on October 4 is expected to mark the unveiling of the next-generation smartphone. To nobody’s surprise, all the key Nokia 7.1 Plus specifications have leaked online already owing to a TENAA listing. It shows the smartphone will have 6.18-inch full-HD+ display, 2.2GHz octa-core processor (possibly Snapdragon 710), two variants (4GB RAM + 64GB storage and 6GB RAM + 128GB storage), microSD card support up to 400GB, 20-megapixel selfie camera, 13-megapixel + 12-megapixel rear cameras, and 3,400mAh battery. A tweet by noted tipster Roland Quandt claims the smartphone will be called Nokia 7.1 instead, and will cost EUR 399 (about Rs. 33,700) for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variant. Leaked renders and alleged live images showing its design have also cropped up on the internet the past week.
Flipkart and Amazon have announced the dates of the respective festive season sales they will be hosting this month. The Flipkart Big Billion Days sale will be held from October 10 to October 14, with Flipkart Plus members getting access 3 hours ahead of the other customers. Unlike previous sales, the e-commerce brand has not previewed major deals from the upcoming sale and has only announced that buyers will get up to 80 percent discount on electronics and up to 90 percent off on home decor, fashion, and personal care products. HDFC Bank debit and credit card users will get 10 percent instant discount, though minimum cart value and maximum discount are not yet known. Similarly, the Amazon Great Indian Festival sale will commence on October 10 and continue till October 15, a day extra. Prime members will get early access to deals, and SBI credit and debit card users will receive 10 percent instant discount, and Amazon Pay users will get cashback of up to Rs. 300. No deals have been previewed by Amazon either.
Separately, Amazon India has announced the launch of Prime Reading, a service that provides users access to a bunch of free books. It will coexist with the subscription-based Kindle Unlimited service. However, while Kindle Unlimited lets users read thousands of books with a fixed fee, the Prime Reading catalogue only consists of a few hundred books. The titles will be available in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Tamil. To access the service, users only need to login to the Kindle app on the their phone, tablet of Kindle e-book reader, and look for titles marked ‘Prime Reading’.
Facebook, which is already struggling in maintaining its users’ trust due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, has announced that it suffered a massive breach that affects as many as 50 million of its users. The breach occurred as hackers exploited three security flaws to steal access tokens that allow users to login to the service automatically. Mark Zuckerberg said the company is not aware if any accounts were “actually misused.” However, no passwords were leaked as part of this hack, only access tokens. As a security measure, Facebook has logged out the 50 million affected users from their accounts on various devices.
WhatsApp too was in the news this week as its co-founder Brian Acton spoke about why he left Facebook — and about $850 million (about Rs. 6,160 crores) on the table. In an interview with Forbes, Acton revealed how he clashed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg over monetising WhatsApp and how the app’s encrypted messages stood in the way of the social media company harvesting user data. Of course, ads are coming to the app, with a new report claiming ads for WhatsApp for iPhone being under development. In other news, WhatsApp has partnered with Reliance Jio to tackle the fake news menace, with all new Jio Phone users receiving educational material to tell them about spotting a forwarded message and encourages them to share messages thoughtfully.
Moving on to the telecom sector, Jio’s rivals are hard at work in their attempts to take back market share from the operator with the help of low-cost recharges. Vodafone Idea Limited announced as many as six recharges priced between Rs. 24 and Rs. 245, and reportedly applicable in UP West, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, and Punjab circles. The Rs. 25 recharge offers offers talk-time of Rs. 18 and 10MB of data for 28 days, the Rs. 35 pack gives talk-time worth Rs. 26 and 100MB of data for 28 days. The Rs. 65 recharge comes with talk-time of Rs. 65 and 200MB data for a validity period of 28 days. Then there’s the Rs. 95 Vodafone recharge with Rs. 95 talk-time and 500MB mobile data for 28-day validity. The local, STD, and landline call rates for Tamil Nadu and Punjab is 30 paise per minute and for UP (West) region, it costs 1 paisa per 2 seconds. The local, STD and landline call rates for UP (West) and Punjab is 1 paisa per second and for Tamil Nadu, it is 60 paise per minute.
The Rs. 145 Vodafone recharge provides users with talk-time of Rs. 145 and 1GB data for 42 days. Lastly, the Rs. 245 plan provides Rs. 245 worth of talk-time and 2GB data for a validity period of 84 days. Local, STD and landline call rate for Tamil Nadu and Punjab is 30 paise per minute, while for UP (West) it is 1 paisa per 2 seconds.
Not to be outdone, Airtel launched six recharges for its prepaid users priced at Rs. 25, Rs. 35, Rs. 65, Rs. 95, Rs. 145, and Rs. 245 in the same circles. The Rs. 25 Airtel recharge offers Rs. 18.69 talk time and 10MB data, and 28-day validity, while the Rs. 35 pack gives Rs. 26.6 talk time and 100MB data, both with validity of 28 days; the latter also discount calls to 60 paise per minute. The Rs. 65 recharge gives talk time of Rs. 65, 200MB data, and calls at tariff of 60 paise per minute for 28 days. The Rs. 95 Airtel recharge provides Rs. 95 talk time, 500MB data, and voice calls at 30 paise per minute for 28 days. Similar to its corresponding Vodafone recharge, the Airtel Rs. 145 recharge gives full talk time, 1GB data, and calling at 30 paise per minute for 28 days. Finally there’s the Rs. 245 pack that offers full talk time, 2GB of data, and calls at discounted rate of 30 paise per minute for 84-day validity.
BSNL marked 18 years of its founding this week with a new Rs. 18 recharge that provides users with unlimited data and calls for two days. This promotional offer also provides 18 percent additional data on select high-value recharges. With this, the 601 BSNL recharge will now have talk-time of Rs. 709 and bundled data will be 5GB. Similarly, the Rs. 1,801 recharge will give subscribers talk-time of Rs. 2,125 and 15GB of data, and the Rs. 1,201 recharge will provide Rs. 1,417 as the talk-time and data capped at 10GB. These additional talk-time and data benefits will be available only on recharges purchased between October 1 and October 18 on pan-India basis.
Can Motorola One Power dethrone the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Redmi 6 Pro? 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.