Photo Credit: YouTube/ The Flame of Truth
Jio Fiber and other announcements by Reliance Jio were the biggest stories this week, including such revelations as Jio Fiber plans, pricing, a commercial launch date, bundled services, and more. Realme 5 Pro and Realme 5 were also revealed to be launched next week in India, with a few details being teased ahead of that date. Xiaomi announced that it would be launching the Mi A3 Android One smartphone in India next week, while Motorola India teased the launch of the Motorola One Action. The Vivo S1 also went on sale via online stores in the country this week, and Sacred Games season 2 was released on Netflix. Read on for all the top news stories this week from the world of personal technology.
At the 42nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) on Monday, Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani made quite a few announcements related to Jio GigaFiber, including the commercial launch date of Jio Fiber, its plans and price, the Jio Fiber Welcome Offer, bundles mobile plans and OTT services, as well as details about the Jio Set-Top Box. While the Jio Phone 3 was also expected to be announced, unfortunately, no details were provided on that front.
Jio Fiber will be commercially launched on September 5, which also happens to be the date that Reliance Jio launched mobile services in India three years ago. The Reliance Chairman added that the service had thus far received 15 million registrations, and that Jio Fiber services will be rolled out across 1,600 towns in India. Pricing details of Jio Fiber plans were also provided, that they would start from Rs. 700 per month and go up to Rs. 10,000 per month.
Jio also revealed that Jio Fiber plans would be offered with minimum speeds of 100Mbps, going up to 1Gbps for the top plans that will be introduced at a later date. Bundled for Jio Fiber users would be Jio Home services, where voice calls to any Indian operator will be free. An international calling pack for Rs. 500 per month was also announced, providing unlimited calling to the US and Canada. Jio Fiber subscribers will be given access to the Jio Postpaid Plus mobile plan, with features such as priority SIM setup service at home, family plans with data sharing, international roaming, and more.
Perhaps the most interesting of the revelations was the Jio Fiber Welcome Offer, which provides subscribers of the Jio Forever annual plans with an HD LED or 4K TV apart from the 4K set-top box free. This is apart from bundled OTT subscriptions free for entertainment content on the Jio Set-Top Box, which separately also provides gaming and mixed reality features.
A service called Jio First-Day-First-Show was also announced, which gives premium subscribers access to movies the same they are released in theatres – but this will only be launched in mid-2020. Finally, at the event, it was announced Jio had over 340 million subscribers, becoming the top mobile operator in terms of subscribers.
Oppo spin-off brand Realme has announced it will be launching the Realme 5 Pro and Realme 5 smartphones in India next week, on Tuesday, August 20. In multiple teasers, the company also revealed both Realme 5 Pro and Realme 5 would sport a quad rear camera setup, with the Realme 5 Pro set to receive a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 primary sensor, a 119-degree ultra-wide sensor, a 4cm super macro sensor, and a depth sensor. The smartphones will be made available via Flipkart.
Key specifications of the Realme 5 Pro and Realme 5 smartphones were also revealed by their Flipkart teaser listings. A 5,000mAh battery was teased, while the Realme 5 Pro will also get VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 technology. The Realme 5 Pro is also teased to get a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC that's said to be the "best mid-range chipset in its segment" – this may be the Snapdragon 712 SoC.
The Realme 5 on the other hand is expected to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC. We also know that the Realme 5 has a rear fingerprint sensor, while the Realme 5 Pro has a in-display fingerprint sensor. Realme India CEO also revealed that the Realme 5 price in India would start below Rs. 10,000. Separately, both the Realme 5 and the Realme 5 Pro are thought to have been spotted on Geekbench benchmark listings, tipping some of their specifications.
Let's start with the alleged Realme 5 Geekbench listing, which shows the smartphone to sport the Snapdragon 665 SoC and 4GB of RAM. The Realme 5 Pro Geekbench listing on the other hand shows a Snapdragon 710 SoC and 8GB of RAM. However, the listing may be wrong, because as we mentioned, the Snapdragon 712 SoC is expected to be used on the Realme 5 Pro.
Xiaomi this week announced that the Mi A3 Android One smartphone would be launched in India next week – specifically, on Wednesday, August 21. To recall, the smartphone had been launched in Europe last month, priced at EUR 249 (roughly Rs. 19,200) for the 64GB storage variant and EUR 279 (roughly Rs. 21,500) for its 128GB storage variant. We can expect the Mi A3 price in India to be lower.
Teasers for the Mi A3 India launch had begun earlier in the week, but at the time, no launch date was announced. We now also know that it will be sold via Amazon India in the country. The Mi A3 is Xiaomi's third smartphone based on Google's Android One programme, which is meant to certify an optimised Android interface and guarantee speedy updates.
Specifications of the Mi A3 include Android Pie, a 6.08-inch HD+ display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, 4GB of RAM, a triple rear camera setup (48-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 2-megapixel), a 32-megapixel selfie camera, 64GB and 128GB storage options (expandable via microSD card), an in-display fingerprint sensor, the regular host of connectivity options including a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 4,030mAh battery with 18W fast charging.
The Vivo S1 went on sale in India via online retailers this week. To recall, the smartphone had been launched earlier this month, and had gone on sale via offline retailers soon after. Online retailers stocking the Vivo S1 (Review) include Flipkart, Amazon, and the Vivo India e-store. For now, only the 4GB RAM variant is on sale in the country, with the 6GB RAM variants being made available at a later date.
To recall, the Vivo S1 price in India starts at Rs. 17,990 for the 4GB RAM + 128GB storage option, while its 6GB RAM + 64GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 18,990, and the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 19,990.
Vivo S1 specifications include Funtouch OS 9 (based on Android Pie), a 6.38-inch full-HD+ display, a MediaTek Helio P65 MT6768 SoC, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB onboard storage, a triple rear camera setup (16-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 2-megapixel), a 32-megapixel selfie camera, the standard set of connectivity options, a 4,500mAh battery, as well as an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Oppo India this week announced that its Oppo F11 and Oppo F11 Pro smartphones had received price cuts in the country. The Oppo F11 price in India now starts at Rs. 16,990 for the 4GB + 128GB variant, down from Rs. 17,990, while the 6GB + 128GB variant will now be priced at Rs. 17,990, down from Rs. 19,990. To recall, this is the second time Oppo has cut the F11's price in India, since its release in May.
The Oppo F11 Pro price in India has been slashed as well, with its 6GB + 128GB variant now priced at Rs. 21,990, down from Rs. 23,990. To recall, the 64GB storage variant ha already received a second price cut, bringing its price down to Rs. 20,990 – and it remains at this for now. The Oppo F11 Pro had been launched in India back in March alongside the Oppo F11, though the latter went on sale much later in May.
InOne Smart Technology, an HTC brand licensee, this week launched the HTC Wildfire X smartphone in India. The smartphone carries a limited period price tag of Rs. 9,999 for its 3GB + 32GB variant, going up to Rs. 12,999 for its 4GB + 128GB variant. It will go on sale in the country via Flipkart from August 22. A bunch of launch offers have also been revealed for the HTC Wildfire X. The company is also touting the Mybuddy security feature on the smartphone.
HTC Wildfire X specifications include Android 9 Pie, a 6.22-inch HD+ display, an unnamed octa-core SoC, 3GB and 4GB RAM options, a triple rear camera setup (12-megapixel + 8-megapixel + 5-megapixel), an 8-megapixel selfie camera, 32GB and 128GB onboard storage options (expandable via microSD card), the usual bunch of connectivity options, a rear fingerprint sensor, and a 3,300mAh battery.
Motorola India this week began teasing the launch of the Motorola One Action in India, and it is due to arrive on August 23. Soon after, the company launched the smartphone in Brazil, Mexico, and some European nations. The highlight of the phone is its triple rear camera setup that includes an ultra-wide angle lens capable of recording landscape videos even when the phone is held vertically. It also sports a 21:9 CinemaVision display with a hole-punch design.
The Motorola One Action price starts at EUR 259 (roughly Rs. 20,400), though we can expect the India pricing to be more economical. Motorola One Action specifications include Android 9 Pie, a 6.3-inch full-HD+ display, a Samsung Exynos 9609 SoC, 4GB of RAM, a triple rear camera setup (12-megapixel + action camera + 5-megapixel), a 12-megapixel selfie camera, 128GB of onboard storage (expandable via microSD card), the usual range of connectivity options, and a 3,500mAh battery.
OnePlus usually follows a biannual refresh cycle, launching two flagship smartphones each year. While this year it has launched two smartphones already – the OnePlus 7 Pro an the OnePlus 7 – it is expected to launch a refreshed version of the OnePlus 7 Pro later this year, expected to be called the OnePlus 7T Pro based on past leaks. While the smartphone has leaked in live images twice in the recent past, this week also saw a rumoured launch date being tipped.
According to a tipster, the OnePlus 7T Pro will be launched on October 15. Thus far, OnePlus has launched its refreshed ‘T' variants in a similar time-frame, and thus this release date October, November, and November, As we mentioned, this is in line with previous launches. The OnePlus 6T was launched in October, the OnePlus 5T was launched in November, and the OnePlus 3T was launched in November.
Samsung Galaxy A10s launched
This week saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy A10s, though no price details were shared. The smartphone comes as an upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy A10, a budget smartphone that had been unveiled in India earlier this year. It is currently not known whether the Galaxy A10s would be made available in India, or if it will be limited to other markets. Highlights include its Infinity-V Display, dual rear camera setup, and 4,000mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy A10s specifications include Android 9 Pie, a 6.2-inch HD+ display, an unnamed octa-core SoC, 2GB of RAM, a dual rear camera setup (13-megapixel + 2-megapixel), an 8-megapixel selfie camera, 32GB of onboard storage (expandable via microSD card), the regular connectivity options, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and as we mentioned, a relatively large 4,000mAh battery.
Tata Sky Cashback Offer, Airtel 4G Hotspot daily data, and other telecom news
This week, it was discovered that Tata Sky had replaced its Flexi Annual Plan with a 'Cashback Offer'. The new offer gives subscribers who recharge for 12 months an additional month's cashback. Subscribers will also be provided an option to temporarily suspend their account. Those customers who subscriber to the cashback offer will not be subject to a lock-in period by the DTH operator. To avail, subscribers will need to recharge their balance with an amount that's equal to or greater than 12 times their monthly recharge value.
Also this week, Airtel started offering 1.5GB of daily data for as many as 224 days for those prepaid subscribers who buy a Airtel 4G Hotspot. The 1.5GB daily data benefits are now available, but only for new prepaid subscribers. The data will be made available 2 days after inserting an Airtel SIM in the Airtel 4G Hotspot device. Similar 1.5GB daily benefits but for a much shorter 84 days had been unveiled back in May.
Broadband Internet service provider Hathway this week began offering a 100Mbps plan at just Rs. 699, in what appears to be an obvious response to the Jio Fiber announcement. The Rs. 699 100Mbps is currently available in the Kolkata circle, and has an FUP limit of 1TB, post which speeds will be dropped to 3Mbps. Called the Value RTL 100 plan, it is available only with a minimum recharge of three months. Separately, Hathway also began offering Rs. 2,500 worth of benefits with its streaming device 'Play Box' that can be availed at Rs. 899.
Sacred Games 2 released
Sacred Games 2, or rather, Sacred Games season 2, was released globally this week – on Independence Day. All eight episodes of Sacred Games season 2 were made available at 12am IST on August 15, globally, which means some regions got it before that date in their local time. Season 2 of the popular Netflix show picks up where the first season left off, and is expected to provide many answers to the burning questions that the first season raised.
Saif Ali Khan reprises his role as Sartaj Singh, a Mumbai cop who is attempting to thwart a potential nuclear attack in Mumbai. The attack was uncovered by the cop after being put on the trail by the gangster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). While Sacred Games season 2 technically wraps up the book, the creators have been mum about whether we can expect more in the Sacred Games universe. We've reviewed Sacred Games season 2 – and don't worry, it's spoiler free in case you've yet to stream it.
PUBG Mobile 0.14.0 update
This week, popular free-to-play battle royale game PUBG Mobile received its v0.14.0 update. The update brings numerous new gameplay elements, including a brand-new mode and a fresh character system amongst other additions. PUBG Mobile v0.14.0 is available to download on both Android and iOS.
The biggest addition to PUBG Mobile v0.14.0 is the Infection Mode, an asymmetric PvP mode where players are classified into two factions – defenders and zombies. As a zombie, the goal is to kill as many defenders as possible, while as a defender, the goal is to stay alive. Another new features include a fresh character system as well as a new character called Victor.
Facebook and Microsoft admit to third-party contractors accessing user voice recordings
In other news, Facebook and Microsoft made revelations about user privacy this week when both admitted to giving third-party contractors access to audio recordings of users. Facebook after reports of its practices emerged admitted it had been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services. The social network said it will no longer do so, in a manner similar to Apple and Google who made similar moves to their operations recently.
Microsoft on the other hand admitted that contractors can listen to Skype and Cortana chats, once again after reports of the practice emerged. "We realised, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content," a Microsoft spokesperson said, adding, "We've updated our privacy statement and product FAQs to add greater clarity and will continue to examine further opportunities to improve.”