Welcome back to another edition of the Gadgets 360 weekly recap, with all the top stories of the week from the world of technology. While the Redmi 5 series continues to go strong, Xiaomi is planning to bring its successor to the Indian market as early as next week. The popular Chinese brand has sent invites for a September 5 launch event in India. A short video clip tweeted by Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain shows the number 6 and three smartphones lined up behind it. This suggests the upcoming handsets will be the Redmi 6, Redmi 6A, and Redmi 6 Pro that have already been unveiled in China. Of course, the MediaTek processors of Redmi 6 and Redmi 6A will have to be replaced by Qualcomm SoCs due to a patent infringement lawsuit against Xiaomi by Ericsson.
Key features of the Redmi 6, price in China starting at CNY 799 (about Rs. 8,400), include a 5.45-inch HD+ display, dual camera setup on the back (12-megapixel + 5-megapixel), 5-megapixel sensor in front, and 3,000mAh battery. It comes in 3GB RAM + 32GB storage, and 4GB RAM + 64GB storage options. Redmi 6A has similar features but a single 13-megapixel rear camera, 16GB internal storage, and 2GB RAM and a price of CNY 599 (about Rs. 6,300). Lastly, the Redmi 6 Pro price starts at CNY 999 (about Rs. 10,400) and it comes with a 5.84-inch full-HD+ display, Snapdragon 625, 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera setup, 5-megapixel selfie camera, and 4,000mAh battery.
The new Xiaomi series will, of course, compete with the Realme 2 smartphone that was launched last week. The second Realme handset sports a 6.2-inch HD+ display, octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC, Android 8.1 Oreo-based ColorOS 5.1 skin, and microSD card support up to 256GB. On the back are vertically stacked 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel sensors, while the front has an 8-megapixel camera for selfies. It is powered by a 4,230mAh battery with a 10W adaptor bundled, and has Face Unlock capabilities as well as a fingerprint sensor.
Realme 2 price in India has been set as Rs. 8,990 for the variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, and Rs. 10,990 for the model with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. It will go on sale on September 4. While the new model was launched, the Realme 1 base variant was discontinued — this model was also priced at Rs. 8,990, same as the base Realme 2 variant, and had 3GB RAM and 32GB built-in storage.
Realme 2 vs Redmi Note 5 vs Oppo A3s vs Honor 7C
If we are talking about sub-brands, Xiaomi’s own Poco saw its first model go on sale in India. The Poco F1 first flash was held on Mi.com and Flipkart, with over 1 lakh units being sold in less than 5 minutes; the next sale will be on September 5. However, those who did purchase the handset were in for a rude shock as it came to light that the handset does not support HD video streaming on platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, etc. This is because the handset does not have support for Widevine L3 DRM standard that is required to stream HD content. Moreover, it is reportedly not possible to add the support later on via a software update. Finally on the Poco F1 front, the kernel source for the Poco launcher is now available on Github, so fans can build custom ROMs for the phone.
Poco F1 Review
Also this week, Xiaomi confirmed the Mi Mix 3 launch will be in October, quashing rumours of a September 15 unveiling. However, there is no concrete launch date yet for the smartphone. The company also teased that the handset will not have a display notch and narrow bezels. The teaser also hinted at a camera slider similar to the one we have seen on Oppo Find X — however, it looks like the entire back panel of the Mi Mix 3 will slide instead of just the top part. Previous leaks have claimed the smartphone will have a QHD+ AMOLED display made by Samsung, Snapdragon 845 SoC, and 20-megapixel selfie camera, with the price starting at $510 (about Rs. 35,100).
Nokia 6.1 Plus went on sale for the first time in India this week, with the handset becoming available via Flipkart and Nokia online store. So far, fans could only pre-order the handset; shipping for the handset started August 31, according to the official website. The Nokia 6.1 Plus has a 5.8-inch display with notch, Snapdragon 636 SoC, 4GB RAM, 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear cameras, and 3,060mAh battery. Also this week, Nokia brand licensee HMD Global acquired the PureView trademark from Microsoft. This development suggests we could be seeing a new camera-focused, PureView branded smartphone in the near future.
Nokia 6.1 Plus Review
The Vodafone-Idea merger has been completed, making the joint entity — named Vodafone Idea Limited — the biggest telecom operator in the country. For now, their operations remain how they were — in fact, Vodafone launched a Rs. 597 recharge just this week. This new prepaid recharge offers validity of 112 days to smartphone users and 168 days to feature phone users. As for the benefits, Vodafone customers will get 10GB of 4G data, unlimited local and STD calls, free calls while roaming, and 100 text messages per day. The so-called unlimited calls are capped at 250 minutes per day and 1,000 minutes a week.
Airtel this week announced that its postpaid and broadband customers will be able to access Netflix content. This benefit will be available only on select plans, and the company is yet to reveal those plans. The Netflix content will be available via Airtel TV and MyAirtel apps, the operator said in a statement. This free access will be limited to three months, and users will have to pay for subscription after the free period is over. Also, subscribers can sign up for Netflix and pay for the subscription via their monthly Airtel bill.
Asus released the Blue colour variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 smartphone in India. Apart from the new paintjob, there is nothing new in the new model, and the price remains the same for the three variants as well. In other Asus news, the ZenFone 5Z received an OTA update that brings a host of improvements to the affordable flagship. The new ZenFone 5Z features include ‘Lift to Face Unlock’, gesture navigation, and camera improvements like EIS, 3D Noise Reduction in Pro mode, overheat detection while recording videos, etc.
OnePlus 6T was spotted on the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) website with the model number A6013. There is not much else to learn about the smartphone from the listing, but a previous report had claimed it will be released in October. Leaked features so far include a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel, Snapdragon 845 or Snapdragon 710 SoC, 8GB RAM, and up to 256GB storage.
While the OnePlus 6T launch remains a speculation, Apple has sent invites for a launch event it is holding at its new headquarters on September 12. While the invite does not mention what the event will be about, the launch of the 2018 iPhone models is the obvious choice. A new report has given us a look at what the upcoming models will look like — the leaked image shows the iPhone XS 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models with a look similar to that of last year’s iPhone X, but with a gold paintjob. Conspicuous by its absence in the render is the long-rumoured 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, whose release may be delayed, according to a separate report. This LCD model is also said to come in multiple colour options and sport aluminium edges instead of a stainless steel casing.
How Apple Is Attracting Indian Artists, Developers to Grow Its Presence
Vivo was in the news this week for giving price cuts to three of its popular smartphones. The Vivo V9 price was slashed from Rs. 20,990 to Rs. 18,990, while the Vivo Y83 saw its price being cut from Rs. 14,990 to Rs. 13,990. Similarly, Vivo X21 with in-display fingerprint sensor had its price cut from Rs. 35,990 to Rs. 31,990. Samsung Galaxy J4 3GB RAM variant also received a price cut this week, going down from Rs. 11,990 to Rs. 10,990.
The 2018 edition of the Google for India event was held earlier this week, with the company announcing a host of updates for key products. Firstly, the UPI-based Google Tez app has been rebranded to Google Pay. The company has also partnered with Federal Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and others to offer pre-approved loans to their customers — this feature will start appearing in the app in the next few weeks. Secondly, turn-by-turn navigation and a new homescreen with shortcuts have been announced for Google Maps Go. The main Google Maps app has also received an update that adds more than 20,000 inter-city bus routes to the app thanks to a partnership with RedBus. Other announcements from the Google for India event include Marathi support for Google Assistant, bilingual support for Google Feed, new publication tool under Project Navlekha, and a donation of $1 million (about Rs. 7 crores) for Kerala relief.
Google Maps API Price Hike Is Threatening the Future of Some Companies
Flipkart seems to be planning its entry in the non-banking financial services space as new Flipkart Finance and Flipkart Finance EMI options have been spotted on the platform. These features seem to be under testing only for now as both are marked unavailable at the moment. The financing options are listed on both the app and the desktop version. They appear when a user is making payments for goods purchased, and particularly when a user tries to convert the COD payment option to another mode.
IFA 2018 started this week, with a few notable smartphone launches. The most important were Motorola One and Motorola One Power affordable smartphones. The new Motorola One has a 5.9-inch HD+ display, stock Android 8.1 Oreo, Snapdragon 625 SoC, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, microSD card support up to 256GB, dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back, 8-megapixel sensor in front, and 3,000mAh battery. It is priced at EUR 299 (about Rs. 24,800), and Gadgets 360 has learnt that it will launch in India later this year. Motorola One Power price in India, on the other hand, is expected to be around Rs. 14,000. The smartphone has a 6.2-inch full-HD+ display, octa-core Snapdragon 636 SoC, 4,850mAh battery, 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear cameras, and 12-megapixel front camera, while the remaining features remain the same as those of the Motorola One.
BlackBerry KEY2 LE smartphone was launched at IFA 2018 by brand licensee TCL. This smartphone sports a QWERTY keyboard with fingerprint sensor integrated in the space bar. Key features of BlackBerry KEY2 LE include a 4.5-inch full-HD+ display with 3:2 aspect ratio, Android 8.1 Oreo, Snapdragon 636, 4GB RAM, 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera, and 3,000mAh battery. BlackBerry KEY2 LE costs $399 (about Rs. 28,300) for the 32GB storage variant and $449 (about Rs. 31,900) for the 64GB storage model.
Sony Xperia XZ3 was launched at the event, featuring Android Pie, Snapdragon 845, and a dedicated shutter button. It sports a 6-inch QHD+HDR OLED screen with Gorilla Glass 5, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, and microSD support up to 512GB. Other key features include a 19-megapixel rear camera with super slow motion video, HDR Photo, 4K video, triple image-sensing technology; a 13-megapixel front camera, 3,300mAh battery with QuickCharge 3.0, and IP65/68 certification for water- and dust-resistance. The Sony Xperia XZ3 price has not been revealed yet though it has been announced that it will hit select markets in September.
Another smartphone unveiled at IFA 2018 was the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, with a price tag of GBP 379 (about Rs. 34,800). The new smartphone has a 6.3-inch display, Android 8.1 Oreo OS, and octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC. It comes with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard storage, and microSD card support up to 512GB. It will come in both single- and dual-SIM variants, depending on the market. On the back, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite bears 20-megapixel + 2-megapixel sensors, while a 24-megapixel + 2-megapixel camera is in front. There is a 3,750mAh battery with support for 9V/2A (18W) charging capabilities. Huawei also unveiled an Alexa-powered smart speaker called the AI Cube and a GPS tracker called Locator at IFA. The company also announced its HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC made on the 7nm process at the mega expo.
Other notable smartphone launches at IFA 2018 were the LG G7 One and G7 Fit, ZTE Axon 9 Pro, HTC U12 Life with dual-finish back. The Windows 10 October 2018 Update was also announced by Microsoft at the event, though not many details were officially revealed. Other products announced at the event include the Nubia Alpha wearable concept smartphone, with production slated to start in Q4. Samsung and LG showcased their first commercial 8K TVs, while Sennheiser launched the Momentum True Wireless earbuds.
Lenovo had a busy IFA 2018, with the company launching the first Snapdragon 850 laptop, a new gaming laptop, new Yoga laptops with two touchscreens, Yoga-branded Chromebooks and smart home devices, etc. Acer also unveiled the Swift 5 that it calls the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop, the Aspire Z 24 AiO, new Predator Orion gaming desktops, Predator Triton 900 convertible gaming laptop, new Chromebook 514 with optional touchscreen, a new mixed-reality headset, and more. It also previewed the Swift 7 laptop and teased the Predator X gaming AiO. Asus announced new models in the ZenBook, ZenBook Flip, ZenBook Pro, ZenBook S, and ZenAiO ranges at IFA 2018 as well.
New iPhones may well be amazing but will Apple follow a new strategy in India? 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.