Samsung kickstarted this week in tech with the India launch of its Galaxy J6, Galaxy J8, Galaxy A6, and Galaxy A6+ smartphones. The Galaxy J6 and Galaxy J8 are affordable handsets with plastic unibody design, Super AMOLED screens, and 18.5:9 displays, while the Galaxy A6 and Galaxy A6+ sport metal unibody designs, along with Super AMOLED screens and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. As for the prices in India, Galaxy A6+ is the most expensive of the lot at Rs. 25,990, followed by the Galaxy A6 at Rs. 21,990. Then comes the Galaxy J8 at Rs. 18,990, while Galaxy J6 comes in two variants, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage at Rs. 13,990 and 4GB RAM and 64GB storage at Rs. 16,490.
Key features of the four new Samsung smartphones are Android 8.0 Oreo-based Samsung Experience, large batteries, octa-core processors, AI integration in camera. The Galaxy J8 and Galaxy A6+ sport dual rear cameras, 3500mAh batteries, 6-inch displays, and high-resolution selfie cameras. On the other hand, the Galaxy J6 and Galaxy A6 come with 5.6-inch screens and 3000mAh batteries. The Galaxy J8 is scheduled to go on sale in India on June 20, while the remaining three are already available for purchase in the country.
Samsung Galaxy J6 First Impressions
Xiaomi was also in the news this week, for multiple reasons. The company launched the Mi Credit platform, which will help MIUI users in India to avail personal loans of up to Rs. 1 lakh. Also, Redmi Note 5 Pro users are now reportedly getting the MIUI 9.5 Global ROM (v184.108.40.206.OEIMIFA) update — it is available as a download from the official website or as an OTA update. The launch of Mi 8 was confirmed for a May 31 event by the company this week, which also alluded to the unveiling of MIUI 10 software at the same event. The Mi 8 is apparently so far ahead of the Mi 6 that the company decided to skip the Mi 7 name altogether.
But Mi 8 and MIUI 10 will not be only two names worth mentioning at the May 31 Xiaomi event, as the company is also expected to launch the Mi Note 5 smartphone the same day. The leaked specifications of the Mi Note 3 successor include 5.99-inch display with ultra-thin bezels, Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, and support for 43 LTE bands. The Mi Note 5 price is CNY 2,299 (roughly Rs. 24,400), according to the leak. Other products likely at the event are the Mi Band 3, Surge S2 SoC, and a wireless charging pad.
The company also confirmed the Mi Max 3 will not be launched before July. Redmi 6 surfaced too for the first time, as a TENAA listing revealed its specifications and images. The key Redmi 6 specifications and features include a 5.45-inch HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, Android 8.1 Oreo, octa-core processor clocked at 2GHz (possibly the Snapdragon 625), and 3000mAh battery. Considering the Redmi 5 was launched just 6 months ago, the successor may take a few more months before going official.
Also in China this week, the company launched its Mi Router 4 with dual-band (2.4GHz/ 5GHz) Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and MT7621A MIPS- Dual Core 880MHz processor. It also has 128MB of NAND flash storage, 128MB of DDR3 RAM, and a multi-coloured LED indicator. Along with this, the Xiaomi Roidmi Car Air Purifier was launched in the country. Its key features include a laser particle sensor and a full-effect composite filter, alongside an OLED panel and an 80m3/h CADR particulate matter filtering capacity; it claims to purify the air in the car within 2 minutes.
Reliance Jio — which has added 94 lakh new subscribers in March, as per TRAI data — has started offering its subscribers 2GB data per day for free for a limited period. This data is worth Rs. 101, and being provided to users on complimentary basis. According to the MyJio app, May 29 will be the last day this data will be doled out to users. Also on the Jio front, the company’s Jio Phone was the highest-selling feature phone in the world in Q1 2018, according to Counterpoint Research. The market research firm said the global feature market grew 38 percent year-on-year, with Jio Phone accounting for 15 percent market share. It was followed by Nokia brand licensee HMD Global at 14 percent and Itel at 13 percent.
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Incumbent telecom operators this week launched a bunch of plans to lure subscribers their way. These include the Airtel Rs. 558 recharge with 3GB data per day and validity of 82 days; it also comes with unlimited calls, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited post-FUP Internet access at 128kbps. There was also the Rs. 499 Idea recharge that comes with 2GB data a day for 82 days, along with bundled calls (250 minutes a day, 1,000 minutes a week), free national roaming, and 100 text messages per day
BSNL reportedly launched a Rs. 499 postpaid plan this week, with 45GB data per billing cycle with unlimited voice calling with no monthly FUP limit as well as 100 SMS messages per day. Its sister organisation MTNL also launched a bunch of plans priced between Rs. 171 and Rs. 421 for Delhi-NCR users, with up to 3GB data per day and validity of up to 84 days.
OnePlus 6 went on sale in India this week, first on Monday for Amazon Prime members and then the next day for all Amazon customers. Of course, buyers could head to one of the pop-up stores that the company had set up or purchase the handset from its official website on the first day or Croma stores on the second. The Chinese brand also says the OnePlus 6 has become a huge success for it compared to its predecessor as it raked in sales worth Rs. 100 crores within 10 minutes on the first day of sale, a feat that the OnePlus 5T apparently took a whole day to achieve. The smartphone has already received two software updates — one that brings the option to disable the notch, the May security patch and more, and another that provides a few bug fixes and performance improvements.
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Also on sale for the first time in India this week was the Realme 1, the first smartphone from Oppo’s new sub-brand. The smartphone was made available in India as an Amazon exclusive on Friday, though it was, oddly, available in a lightning deal with a discount of just Re. 1. The next Realme 1 sale will be held on June 1, and fans had to join a waitlist, which is seemingly already full for both the 3GB RAM and 6GB RAM variants.
The India launch date for the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play was confirmed this week as Motorola sent out media invites this week. Both the smartphones will be unveiled in India on June 6. The Moto G6 will be exclusive to Amazon India, while the Moto G6 Play will be available only via Flipkart, the two e-commerce brands revealed via dedicated listing pages for the respective handsets. Apart from this, the Lenovo-owned company is expected to launch its Moto Z3 Play in Brazil on June 6. The Moto Z3 Play was leaked earlier this week featuring a 6-inch full-HD+ 18:9 AMOLED panel, Snapdragon 636 SoC, dual rear cameras, side-mounted fingerprint sensor, Android 8.1 Oreo, Face Unlcok and support for Moto Mods.
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HMD Global is launching a new Nokia phone on May 29 and has started teasing the launch with the hashtag #ChargedUp. This hashtag suggests the smartphone may feature some battery advancements or charging-related improvements. It could be referring to the Nokia X6 too, whose 3060mAh battery can go from zero to 50 percent in 30 minutes. The Nokia X6 went on sale for the first time in China on Monday and the entire stock was sold out within 10 seconds, the company said on Weibo; the next sale in the country will be held on May 30. For those unaware, it is the first Nokia-branded smartphone with a notch, and has a 5.8-inch full-HD+ display, octa-core Snapdragon 636 processor with 4GB and 6GB RAM options, dual rear cameras, and USB Type-C port.
WhatsApp users got the first glimpse of group calling as the feature reportedly started rolling out. However, both the group video calling and group audio calling options are available only for a very small number of users for now. WhatsApp has also started allowing users to download all the data it has on them, including profile photos and group names. However, there will be no messages as these messages are encrypted and not even WhatsApp can see them.
A bug in the app this week showed users’ profile photo and Status to people they had blocked. Not just this, the blocked parties could even send messages to users. WhatsApp acknowledged the issue and a fix was released. WhatsApp for Android beta version 2.18.159 brought a couple of new features, namely media visibility feature and new contacts shortcuts. The former allows you to choose whether you want to make the media that you’ve received on WhatsApp visible in your gallery or keep it limited to the app. The latter enables users to quickly add a contact without leaving the app — the option can be found by pressing the new message button from the bottom right side of the Chats screen.
Apple is now giving credit of Rs. 3,900 in India and $50 in the US to customers who paid for out-of-warranty battery replacements on iPhone 6 and later models. The eligible customers will be contacted on a one-on-one basis via email till July 27. Also this week, it was reported that Apple apparently knew about the bendgate issue that plagued iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. In documents submitted to court in a case over the ‘Touch Disease’, Apple reportedly mentioned that internal tests determined iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6 Plus 7.2 times more likely.
The company has also started giving free iCloud storage trials for a month in a bid to give the service a push. Users are getting the free trial upon exhausting the 5GB free storage they get with iCloud accounts. A message from Apple reads, “A 50GB plan gives you plenty of space to continue backing up your iPhone. Your first month is free and it’s just $0.99 each month after.” In other Apple news, the company is reportedly planning to introduce more NFC-based capabilities with iOS 12, such as unlock NFC-enabled doors and potentially transmit data to transit systems, personal authentication devices and more.
Samsung has been directed to pay Apple $539 million (roughly Rs. 3,700 crores) for violating its design and utility patents by a US jury. The case dates back to 2012, and has seen the award change more than once. In fact, Samsung has already paid Apple $399 million (roughly Rs. 2,700 crores), and needs to pay only $140 million (roughly Rs. 950 crores). It has not yet decided whether it wants to appeal the decisions and has only said it is keeping “all options” to contest it.
Samsung Galaxy A6+ First Impressions
The company also launched the Galaxy S Light Luxury, a trimmed down version of the Galaxy S8, in China this week. The new smartphone has a 5.8-inch display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, Snapdragon 660 processor, water resistance Samsung Pay, wireless charging, Face Unlock, and an iris scanner. The Galaxy S Light Luxury is priced at CNY 3,999 (roughly Rs. 42,700), though those who order it by June 1 will get a discounted price of CNY 3,699 (about Rs. 39,500). In other major Samsung smartphone news, the company’s upcoming Galaxy Note 9 smartphone was spotted on Geekbench again, though it was the Exynos variant this time and not the Snapdragon 845 variant that leaked earlier. This Exynos 9810-powered model also has 6GB of RAM and Android 8.1 Oreo, but has higher scores than its Snapdragon 845 counterpart — 2,737 in single-core and 9,064 in multi-core.
HTC U12+ has been launched too, the only flagship-class handset to be unveiled this week. The smartphone gives a miss to the iPhone X-like notch, and instead replaces all buttons (including the volume rocker and power buttons) with pressure-sensitive buttons. There’s a Translucent Blue option with a translucent back panel, showing the internal components of the handset; however, you can choose the opaque Flame Red and Ceramic Back panel too.
The squeezable Edge Sense interface has been upgraded to version 2 with the HTC U12+. As for the specifications, HTC U12+ gives users a 6-inch QHD+ display, octa-core Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6GB RAM, 12-megapixel UltraPixel 4 camera and 16-megapixel telephoto sensor on the back, and two 8-megapixel sensors in front. It is priced at $799 (roughly Rs. 64,900) for the 64GB variant and $849 (about Rs. 58,000) for the 128GB option.
The Honor 7A and Honor 7C smartphones were launched in India this week. They both have the same dual rear camera setup, the same front camera resolution, same screen resolution, same battery capacity, and both also run EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0 Oreo. The Honor 7A price in India is Rs. 8,999, while the Honor 7C costs Rs. 9,999 for the 3GB RAM, 32GB storage variant, and Rs. 11,999 for 4GB RAM, 64GB storage variant. The former has a 5.7-inch HD+ display, 3GB RAM, Snapdragon 430 SoC, dual rear cameras, and 3000mAh battery. On the other hand, Honor 7C comes with a 5.99-inch HD+ panel, Snapdragon 450 SoC, dual rear cameras, and 3000mAh battery.
Honor 7A and Honor 7C First Impressions
Vivo X21 has gone on preorders in India, days ahead of the handset’s launch in the country. The company is taking the advance bookings from customers via its official website at a pre-payment of Rs. 2,000. The exact price of the handset is expected to be revealed at the launch event. The smartphone will be a Flipkart exclusive, the e-commerce platform has revealed.
The highlight of the Vivo X21 is its under-display fingerprint sensor that comes with the top-end 128GB variant. Key specs of Vivo X21 include a 6.28-inch display, Snapdragon 660 SoC, 6GB RAM, up to 128GB storage, vertical dual rear cameras, and 3200mAh battery.
The Chinese company has also scheduled the launch of the first truly bezel-less smartphone for June 12 in Shanghai. It is likely the Apex concept smartphone will come to life at the event, with highlights such as 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, half-screen fingerprinting scanning tech, and an elevating (or pop-up) selfie camera.
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Amazon was in hot water this week as an Echo smart speaker recorded its users’ conversation and sent it to a random contact. The e-commerce giant said this happened because an “unlikely” string of events prompted the Echo to record the family’s private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance. Amazon said, “As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.” Also, Google Home overtook Amazon Echo in sales in the first quarter, according to market research firm Canalys. Google shipped 3.2 million units of the Home and Home Mini, while Amazon sold 2.5 million Echo devices in the same period, the firm says.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws came into effect on Friday, mandating all firms that track user data to take their consent again. While some US news sites suffered blackouts in the EU region as they do not comply with GDPR, users were frustrated too by the barrage of emails from websites seeking their consent for tracking their personal data. A privacy advocacy group has already filed a complaint against Google, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp for effectively forcing users to give their consent; users must comply with the new rules and regulations these companies present to them or must stop using the service altogether, instead of changing their own terms and conditions to not track and process users’ data. The privacy group claims its action could force the tech titans to pay up to EUR 7 billion (roughly $8.2 billion or Rs. 55,266 crores).
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