Oppo Find X and Moto E5 Plus arrived in India, Xiaomi finally made its debut on the stock market, Apple released iOS 11.4.1, Microsoft launched its Surface Go budget Windows tablet, Facebook was fined for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Paytm launched forex services, WhatsApp started labelling forwarded messages, while Apple unveiled its mid-year refresh of its MacBook Pro laptops – these were some of the biggest happenings in the week past. In case you’ve not managed to catch all the major tech news this week, there’s no need to fret – here’s a roundup of all the top news stories that broke over the past seven days.
Let’s start with the Oppo Find X. The Chinese smartphone maker’s latest flagship has been launched in India, and it’s certainly an interesting offering. First unveiled at a Paris event last month, the Oppo Find X features a camera slider – a design decision taken to reduce the size of display bezels. The slider contains both the front and rear cameras, sliding up when required – including when unlocking the smartphone with using the 3D facial scanning feature.
Oppo Find X’s 3D facial scanning feature – called O-Face Recognition – like Apple’s Face ID uses 3D structured light with 15,000 projected dots to recognise faces. Oppo claims it is 20 times safer than fingerprint recognition – which if true, would be good, because the smartphone doesn’t bear a fingerprint sensor. The company has only brought a single variant of the smartphone to India for now – the 8GB RAM and 256GB inbuilt storage – though Oppo says the Find X Automobili Lamborghini Edition may also make its way into the country, but did not provide a launch date. The Oppo Find X price in India is set at Rs. 59,990 – pre-orders will start from July 25, and it will go on sale from August 3 via Flipkart. It will also be made available via offline stores soon after.
The Oppo Find X runs ColorOS 5.1 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. It features a 6.42-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) AMOLED panel with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent. It is powered by a Snapdragon 845 SoC, paired with an Adreno 630 GPU and 8GB of RAM. The camera slider features a dual rear camera setup, with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel secondary sensor. It sports a 25-megapixel ‘AI 3D’ front camera. The 256GB of inbuilt storage is not expandable via microSD card. The Find X comes with a 3730mAh battery with VOOC fast charging, said to deliver 2 hours of talk time with 5 minutes of charging.
Lenovo-owned Motorola this week launched the Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 smartphones in India. Both budget smartphones sport large batteries, 18:9 displays, and splash resistant nano-coating. The Moto E5 Plus, priced at Rs. 11,999, features a 5000mAh battery, while the smaller Moto E5 sports a 4000mAh battery and a Rs. 9,999 price tag. Both the smartphone also feature Moto Display and Moto Actions software features, usually reserved for the mid-range and higher Moto series smartphones, as well as Android 8.0 Oreo. Both smartphones are available via Amazon India and Moto Hub stores, while the Moto E5 is being sold via retail stores in addition.
As for specifications, the Moto E5 Plus bears a 6-inch HD+ (720×1440 pixels) display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 430 SoC, and 3GB of RAM. It sports a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie light. It sports 32GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). The Moto E5 on the other hand, sports a 5.7-inch HD+ (720×1440 pixels) display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 425 SoC, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel selfie camera with selfie light. It comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).
Xiaomi on the other hand made its debut on the stock market, listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday. Things got off to a shaky start, and share prices fell as much as 6 percent on day 1 due to valuation concerns, but rose back to the offering price of HKD 17 (Rs. 148.41) by mid-day before ending slightly below at HKD 16.8 (roughly Rs. 146.66). By the end of the week however, the stock up was over 26 percent at HKD 21.45 (roughly Rs. 187.17) when markets closed on Friday, valuing the company at over USD 60 billion (roughly Rs. 411,090 crores).
WhatsApp introduced a new feature that labels forwarded messages, letting users know the message was not created by the sender, move that is expected to help curb the spread of fake news and misinformation that is currently gripping much of the world. In a similar vein, the Facebook-owned messaging company earlier this week started publishing full-page ads in major Indian newspapers, giving readers tips on how to “fight false information”.
Beside this, the company was also spotted testing three other features. Two were part of the same leak – ‘Mark as Read’ and ‘Mute’ buttons in Android notifications. Notably, both these features are said to still be in development, and are not yet accessible by users. The third feature was ‘suspicious link detection’, once again revolving around the aim of curbing misinformation as well as promoting user safety in terms of phishing and malicious downloads. The feature is not accessible by users, but was spotted to add a ‘suspicious link’ label to any message containing a link deemed suspicious, presumably matching it with third-party databases.
Let’s get to the telecom news of the week, and as usual, we saw new plans being unveiled by operators. But before we come to the new plans, let’s talk net neutrality. The Telecom Commission on Wednesday approved the net neutrality rules as recommended by TRAI. In essence, the rules bar service providers from discriminating against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling, or granting them higher speed access. Notably, there will be some critical applications and services that will be kept out of the purview of these rules, such as remote surgery or autonomous cars.
The Telecom Commission also approved a new telecom policy, the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, and it has now been sent for seeking approval with the Union Cabinet. The commission also allowed the installation of 12.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in all gram panchayats with a viability gap of around Rs. 6,000 crores by December 2018.
As for new plans from telcos, we saw BSNL upgrade a number of its 3G Data STVs and prepaid unlimited combo packs, giving them 2GB of additional data daily. Of the new plans, the Rs. 444 STV now offers 6GB of data per data, as well as unlimited on-net voice calls, for 60 days. The changes are said to have been made on a promotional basis of 60 days, starting June 18 – the offer is said to be available in all of BSNL’s circles. Other plans that saw upgrades were the Rs. 186, Rs. 429, Rs. 666, and Rs. 999 prepaid unlimited combo packs, as well as the Rs. 187, Rs. 333, Rs. 349, and Rs. 448 3G Data STVs.
BSNL also revamped its Rs. 1,045, Rs. 1,395, and Rs. 1,895 FTTH broadband plans this week to offer 50GB more data than the previous FUP. The BSNL Fibro BBG ULD 1045 CS48 plan now offers 150GB of FUP data with download speeds of 30Mbps for Rs. 1,045 per month. The Fibro BBG ULD 1395 CS49 now offers 200GB of FUP data per month at 40Mbps bandwidth speed for Rs. 1,395. Finally, the BSNL Fibro BBG ULD 1895 CS129 plan now offers 250GB of FUP data at 50Mbps bandwidth speed, and is priced at Rs. 1,895.
Other state-owned telecom operator, MTNL, announced the launch of a new GSM offer for its broadband customers. Now, broadband subscribers with plans above Rs. 600 can avail a free MTNL 3G SIM card with access to up to 10GB of free data per month for a total period of 12 months. The SIM cards will carry a validity of up to 5 years, with calls and SMS messages chargeable as per industry standards. The offer is valid from July 1 up until September 28, a period of 90 days, and can be availed by new and existing MTNL broadband customers. Specifically, 5GB of free data can be availed by those with plans up to Rs. 799, while 10GB of free data will be offered to those with plans priced above Rs. 800 a month.
Airtel this week revamped its Rs. 499 postpaid plan to offer 87.5 percent more data to its subscribers. Part of its MyPlan Infinity plans, the refreshed Rs. 499 plan now offers 75GB of data per month, compared to 40GB of data previously. The revamped plan offers 100 SMS messages, unlimited voice calls, even on outgoing while roaming, and without any FUP limit. It also comes with a data rollover facility up to 500GB, other benefits including a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime, a Wynk TV subscription, access to Airtel’s library of Live TV and Movies, and Handset Damage Protection.
Now we get to the last major bit of telecom news of the week – Reliance Jio has brought the Google Maps app to its popular 4G feature phone, the Jio Phone. To access the app, users will need to update their Jio Phone firmware. To do this, users will have to go to Settings > Device > Software update and install the Jio Phone software update v2018.628.2. Notably, users will need a minimum of 30 percent battery to install the update. Once the update has been installed, users will need to open the Jio Store app and download the Google Maps app visible on the home page. As you can expect, since it’s made for a small 2.4-inch QVGA panel, Google Maps on Jio Phone has a minimal layout.
That’s it for the telecom news of the week – now let’s get to other major mobile launches in the past 7 days. Apart from the Oppo Find X, Moto E5 Plus, and Moto E5, India also saw the launch of the Oppo A3s in India. Priced at Rs. 10,990, the Oppo A3s is available only in a single 2GB RAM/ 16GB inbuilt storage variant. The highlights of the smartphone include its dual rear camera setup, a 6.2-inch ‘Super Full Screen’ display, a 4230mAh battery, an octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC, as well as a selfie camera powered by Oppo’s AI Beauty Technology 2.0. The smartphonewent on sale from today via Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, as well as offline stores in the country.
The Infinix Hot 6 Pro was also launched in India this week by the Transsion Holdings-owned brand. Priced at Rs. 7,999 (MOP), the Infinix Hot 6 Pro is available only in a single 3GB RAM/ 32GB inbuilt storage variant, and will go on sale via Flipkart during the Big Shopping Days sale that kicks off at 4pm IST on Monday. Highlights of the smartphone include its 5.99-inch HD+ display, the fact that it runs Android Oreo out-of-the-box, a Snapdragon 425 SoC, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 4000mAh battery.
Meanwhile, we saw the Oppo F7 receive a substantial price cut in India. Launched back in March this year at Rs. 21,990 and Rs. 26,990 for the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage and 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage variants respectively, the smartphone has now received a price cut of up to Rs. 3,000. Specifically, the two variants are now retailing for Rs. 19,990 and Rs. 23,990, respectively. The smartphone is available at its new price via Amazon India and Flipkart.
Intex also launched two new budget smartphones with 18:9 displays, which are the highlights of the two new offerings. Called the Intex Infie 33 and Infie 3, the smartphones have been priced at Rs. 5,049 and Rs. 4,649 respectively. They also come with a new Intex UI iteration that brings features such as Face Unlock, Privacy System, and App Freezer among others. The smartphones will be available to purchase via offline retail stores in the country.
We saw some launches outside India as well – for example, the Huawei Nova 3. The smartphone went up for pre-orders in China ahead of its official unveiling on July 18, which will also see the price of the smartphone revealed. The Huawei Nova 3 runs EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo and features a 6.3-inch (1080×2340 pixels) full HD+ display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It is powered by the Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, coupled with 6GB of RAM. It features a dual rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 24-megapixel secondary sensor. On the front, it bears a dual front camera setup as well, with a 24-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. It is powered by a 3750mAh battery. As per reports, the smartphone is set to be unveiled in India this month as well.
Sony in the meanwhile launched the Xperia XA2 Plus this week. Its highlights include a 6-inch HD+ display, a Snapdragon 630 SoC with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, a 23-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 3,580mAh battery under the hood with support for Quick Charge 3.0. It will be available in 32GB and 64GB storage variants, and notably, pricing for the smartphone has yet to be announced.
The Moto E5 Play, launched alongside the Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 in Brazil back in April, was originally set to be a US exclusive. However, the Lenovo-owned brand this week announced an Android 8.1 Oreo (Go edition) version of the smartphone for Europe and Latin America markets. The smartphone has been priced at EUR 109 (roughly Rs. 8,700) – and there are no details about its availability in the Indian market.
Xiaomi this week also finally announced the ‘global launch event’ it had been teasing since last month. It’s at this event that the company is expected to launch the Mi A2, the Android One-version of the Mi 6X smartphone. The launch event will be held on July 24 in Madrid, Spain this year, a change in venue from last’s year global launch event in New Delhi that had seen the launch of the Mi A1 – the Android One-version of the Mi 5X. Ahead of the launch, the specifications and prices of the Mi A2 and a smartphone called the Mi A2 Lite were leaked on a Polish online retailer’s site before being pulled down. Both smartphones share the same prices – PLN 999 (roughly Rs. 18,400) for the 32GB variant of the Mi A2 and the 64GB variant of the Mi A2 Lite.
Xiaomi this week had another announcement to make – the launch of an hybrid smartwatch under its Mijia brand. The Xiaomi Mijia Quartz Watch has smart features like a calorie counter and a pedometer, for which it is required to be paired with the company’s app. Other smart features include automatic time adjustment, call and interval reminders, an alarm clock, and a VIP call alert feature. The watch, which has been priced at CNY 349 (roughly Rs. 3,500) and will go on sale from July 17, is waterproof and weighs about 42 grams. Separately, Xiaomi announced that Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro phones running the MIUI 10 Global Beta 8.7.6 shouldn’t be downgraded, or they may get bricked. To prevent users from making this dangerous move, the company has rolled out an anti-rollback feature. It also provided a way for users to successfully downgrade.
This week, Huawei also announced an India launch event on July 24. The company at the event is expect to launch its recently unveiled Honor 9i (2018) or Honor Play smartphones, both of which were recently unveiled. As per a recent report however, the Honor 9i (2018) will be the smartphone Huawei is looking to launch, and it will supposedly make its way to the Indian market as the Honor 9X. Its July 24 launch event invite doesn’t hint at much, just saying #NOORDINARYBEAUTY.
Apple this week also released iOS 11.4.1 for compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices. The update brings several changes, including the much-touted safety feature that prevents misuse of the Lightning port by law enforcement or hackers. The USB Accessories feature, found under Settings > Face ID (or Touch ID) & Passcode, is disabled by default, preventing any accessory from remaining paired with an iOS device if the latter has not been unlocked in an hour. When enabled, it allows use of USB devices for over an hour without unlocking the smartphone, enabling brute-force attacks on the passcode. However, it appears that the feature has a flaw and can be bypassed, if researchers at ElcomSoft are to be believed.
Another change made by Apple, but not specifically highlighted, was the fix for a bug that has reportedly been affecting some users for years. Users in certain locales were affected by device crashes when they typed the word ‘Taiwan’ or received a message containing the Taiwanese flag emoji. Ex-NSA researcher Patrick Wardle claims that the crash occurred due to a flaw in the code used by Apple to implement the removal of the Taiwan word and flag, a move said to be made to appease Chinese authorities.
This week also saw the rollout of the last OxygenOS Open Beta builds for the now two-year-old OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T smartphones. Getting Open Beta 39 and Open Beta 30 builds respectively, the OnePlus smartphones receive features like optimised switching between front and rear camera, a new “New Installs” category app in the app drawer, amongst other changes and bug fixes. The last stable version update, based on these open beta builds, will be released later this month, the company added.
There were several smartphone leaks of the week, with several surrounding anticipated Samsung launches like the Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S10, Galaxy J6+, as well as the first Android Go smartphone from the South Korean company. The Galaxy Tab S4 also made its way into leaks. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 featured in more than one leak, with one claiming it would retain the 3.5mm headphone jack whilst also gaining a new colour variant, and another claiming that it would go on sale from August 24 – with this last detail corroborating an earlier leak from this week. The 6GB RAM, 128GB inbuilt storage variant was said to be priced at PLN 4,299 (roughly Rs. 79,500). Another set of Galaxy Note 9 renders also hit the Web, tipping a design very similar to last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Coming to the Galaxy S10 – the smartphone’s top variant, the Galaxy S10+, is now said to sport dual front cameras in addition to its triple rear camera setup. The other two variants of the smartphone that are expected to be launched – the Galaxy S10 and another model – are said to sport single front cameras and dual rear cameras. Another leak surrounding the Galaxy S10 claimed that the smartphone would be powered by the as-yet-unannounced Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC with a Mali-G76 GPU.
Now, let’s get to the leak about the Samsung Galaxy J6+. As per a report, the smartphone will be launched in CIS and Serbia, and will be rebranded as the Samsung Galaxy On6+ in India. It will reportedly sport a Snapdragon 450 SoC, a dual rear camera setup, and a 4350mAh battery. The Galaxy Tab S4 made its way into the rumour mill this week with new renders showing off a new S Pen stylus.
Besides these, the Nokia X5 aka Nokia 5.1 Plus price and photos were also leaked ahead of its scheduled July 11 launch – however, that launch has since been postponed without a new date being provided. The Vivo Nex S), which is due to launch in India on July 19, was part of leaks this week, including the India price. The Vivo Nex S is said to be launched as just the Vivo Nex in India, and feature a price tag of Rs. 48,990. Pre-orders are said to the start the same day as the launch.
This week, a report claimed that the iPhone X and iPhone SE smartphones would be discontinued in 2018. Such a move – at least, regarding the iPhone X – has been reported more than once in the past, and goes against the Apple tradition of offering older models to buy several years after their launch. Alongside, case designs for the rumoured 6.1-inch LCD display iPhone that is expected to launch this year were leaked, showing a single rear camera as previously tipped. Another iPhone related news report claimed that 2019 iPhone models will ship with triple rear camera setups in a bid to offer AR-related features.
This week also saw the start of a wider-rollout for YouTube’s Incognito mode, a feature that allows users to quickly disable watch and search history tracking at the flick of a switch. In Incognito mode, users won’t be able to access their Subscriptions, Inbox, or Library tabs. Separately, Google’s Gboard app for iOS gained Morse code input, while its Android app received a few improvements. YouTube also announced a new Copyright Matching Tool, one that will notify creators if their videos had been stolen.
The Mountain View company also announced that its Internet delivery initiatives, Project Loon and Project Wing, were both being graduated from moonshot projects to full-fledged divisions in the company. In India, Google also launched the Launchpad Accelerator India edition for artificial intelligence and machine learning startups in the country. The three-month mentorship programme will be based out of Bengaluru.
Netflix also announced an update this week, one that enables ‘Smart Downloads’. The feature automatically downloads the next episode in a series while deleting an already seen episode when on a Wi-Fi connection. The move is anticipated to further promote binge-watching, and help users ensure they have the latest episode downloaded before they leave a Wi-Fi zone, even if they forget themselves. For now, the feature is only available on Android devices, with an iOS rollout expected later. In Netflix related news, an Indian National Congress member this week filed a complaint with the Kolkata Police about the US company’s new show for India – Sacred Games. He alleged that the show ‘insulted’ former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Paytm this week also launched its forex services. The company is offering multi-currency forex cards and cash, which can be ordered on a real-time basis with delivery within 48 hours – alternatively, buyers can pick them up at Paytm partnered sellers. For now, the service is only live on the company website, and will make its way to the Android and iOS apps in the future.
OnePlus this week rolled out a new Gallery app to the Google Play store, giving users of its older smartphones – OnePlus 5T, 5, 3T, and 3 – the latest video editing features that debuted with the OnePlus 6’s gallery app. Fortnite, the popular battle royale game from developers Epic Games and People Can Fly, also saw the announcement of Season 5, which kicked off on July 12 and will last for 10 weeks up to September 20.
Apart from iOS 11.4.1, Apple this week also released macOS 10.13.6, watchOS 4.3.2, tvOS 11.4.1, and HomePod 11.4.1. Each of these updates brought minor changes with them, and you can check out all the details, including how to download and install the updates, in our previous coverage.
Apple gave its MacBook Pro models a mid-year refresh, specifically, the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models now have newer processors, more RAM, and ‘quieter’ keyboards. While Apple did not reveal whether these keyboards had been improved to fix the issues with the earlier Butterfly switches, a teardown by iFixit found that the company had indeed addressed the dust ingress problem the previous generations faced. Prices for the India models start at Rs. 1,49,900 for the 13-inch variant, while the 15-inch variant starts at Rs. 1,99,900. Also in the news this week, a former Apple employee was charged with stealing self-driving car secrets, news that revealed Apple’s work on the front.
Microsoft unveiled its Surface Go tablet this week, its anticipated cheaper Surface 2-in-1 that the company had been expected to launch for a while. The 10-inch tablet will go on sale from August 2 in select countries, while pre-orders have already begun. It has been priced starting at $399 (roughly Rs. 27,400), and the Wi-Fi only models will be launched ahead of the LTE models, expected later in the year. The keyboard is additional, and is priced at least $99 (roughly Rs. 6,800), while the supported Pen stylus will also be priced at $99. An optional $34.99 (roughly Rs. 2,400) Surface Mobile Mouse was also detailed. Microsoft this week also urged regulation of facial recognition tech, saying that while it was useful it had the potential to be abused.
In India, HP launched two new gaming notebooks – the HP Pavilion 15 (which has been priced starting at Rs. 74,990) and the HP Omen 15 (which has been priced starting Rs. 1,05,990). Both 15-inch gaming laptops will be available via HP offline and online partners in the country. The company has also launched Omen gaming accessories alongside, namely the Omen by HP Sequencer keyboard, Omen by HP Reactor mouse, and Omen by HP Transceptor, apart from the Omen by HP Mouse 600 and Omen by HP Mouse 800.
Fujifilm launched its X-T100 mirrorless camera with 24.2-megapixel sensor in India. The SLR-style Fujifilm camera will be available in India as a kit with the Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens at Rs. 54,999, while the XT100 dual-kit with Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens and XC50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS II lens has been priced at Rs. 70,990. The body-only model will be available for Rs. 47,999.
Nikon unveiled the Coolpix P1000 Super-zoom camera, offering a massive 125x optical zoom with a focal length extending to super-telephoto 3000mm equivalent, while up to 250x zoom is possible using Dynamic Fine Zoom with a 6000mm equivalent. It bears the same 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor as the P900, and an ISO range of 100 to 6400. It has been priced at $999 (roughly Rs. 68,000) and will go on sale in the US in September. Separately, Nikon also discontinued its Nikon 1 mirrorless camera lineup.
Goqii launched its Vital fitness band in India, complete with a blood pressure and heart rate monitor, priced at Rs. 3,499. The fitness band will be available via Amazon India from Monday, July 16, and will also go on sale via the Goqii health store. The company is offering a three-months coaching plan free with the fitness band, and users with the Goqii Play feature will have access to live videos from fitness experts. It features an OLED touchscreen display.
Facebook this week was slapped with a $664,000 fine (roughly Rs. 4.5 crores) by UK regulators for allowing Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data on millions of users. While not massive, it was the first such fine against the company, and the move could open the door for other countries to issue penalties as well. Separately, the company announced that it was testing augmented reality ads in its News Feed in the US, taking on Snapchat in the process.
Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One 97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.