It’s time for our weekly rundown of all the news you need to know from the world of tech, and if you’re a Xiaomi fan, there’s a bit of bad news. Citing an increase in PCBA import taxes, the Chinese company raised prices for its popular Redmi Note 5 Pro phone – which was launched in February – by Rs. 1,000, from Rs. 13,999 to Rs. 14,999. These prices are applicable across both offline and online retail channels. This is for the 4GB variant of the phone, while the 6GB Redmi Note 5 Pro retains its Rs. 16,999 launch price. The 55-inch Mi TV 4 has also received a price hike for the same reasons, taking it from Rs. 39,999 to Rs. Rs. 44,999, a difference of Rs. 5,000.
Xiaomi added that apart from the PCBA import taxes, the other reason for the price hike is the depreciation of the rupee, which has fallen by around 5 percent in the last one year. The company claims that this will help it to ramp up supplies of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, and lead to better availability. The Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) sports a 5.99-inch full-HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 636 SoC, and either 4GB or 6GB RAM. It has a dual rear camera with a 12-megapixel sensor and a 5-megapixel sensor, and a 20-megapixel selfie camera. It’s only available with 64GB storage, and comes with a 4000mAh battery. In our review, we had given it a 10 out of 10 for value for money, so even with the price hike, it’s still worth considering, though it now has decent competition from some recent launches.
We are talking of course about Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review), which has now gone on sale in India, after its launch last week. pre-orders for the smartphone opened for some time on Thursday via Flipkart. It offers the same SoC as Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, but pricing starts much lower, at Rs. 10,999. The sale has already ended, but Asus has already announced that the next sale for the ZenFone Max Pro M1 is on May 10.
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 price in India has been set at Rs. 10,999 for the 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage variant. The 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant, on the other hand, comes at Rs. 12,999. Asus also announced a 6GB RAM and 64GB storage variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 with a price tag of Rs. 14,999. However, the release date for this last variant hasn’t been revealed. The ZenFone Max Pro M1 has a 5.99-inch full-HD+ 18:9 display, a Snapdragon 636 SoC, 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear camera setup, 8-megapixel selfie camera, and a huge 5000mAh battery.
We also got to learn a lot about the upcoming OnePlus 6 ahead of its May 16 launch event in London. The India pricing has leaked, and allegedly, the 64GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 36,999, while the 128GB storage variant is said to be priced at Rs. 39,999. We don’t know about the pricing for the 256GB variant yet. This will make the OnePlus 6 the priciest phone from OnePlus yet, and marks a continuing upwards trend away from the “budget-premium” segment that it helped create.
The full specifications of the phone were also leaked on the HDFC Bank Smartbuy offers page, although there are some details that don’t sound correct. For one thing, the HDFC page shows a notch that’s close in size to the iPhone X, while the OnePlus 6 has a relatively small notch, as confirmed by the company. It also mentions a display resolution of 1800×3200 pixels with is a 16:9 aspect ratio, while most leaks suggest an 18:9 display, at 1080×2280 pixels. According to another leak from Chinese certification site TENAA, the OnePlus 6 will have a 6.28-inch full-HD+ display, a 2.45GHz octa-core Snapdragon 845 SoC, and a 3300mAh battery. We also know that aside from the three variants, there’s going to be an Avengers: Infinity War tie-in phone, and although not much is known about this variant, you can check out the retail box it will come in.
We’ve also learned that the OnePlus 6 will go on sale in India from May 21, through dedicated pop-up stores. These temporary stores will be available across eight Indian cities, to let customers try out and purchase the OnePlus 6. This will happen before the phone goes on sale online exclusively via Amazon India. The pop-ups are mostly located in malls, although in Bengaluru, you’ll have to visit the OnePlus experience store in Brigade Road.
Meanwhile, Reliance Jio announced a JioFi exchange offer which gets you a cashback of Rs. 2,200. You can exchange your old non-Jio modem or dongle, to get a new JioFi for Rs. 999, and cashback on future recharges worth Rs. 2,200. Once the buyers get a Jio SIM for the hotspot device, they need to purchase the Rs. 99 Prime membership. They will also have to purchase a recharge of Rs. 198 or Rs. 299 to activate the SIM. Upon SIM activation, they will get 44 vouchers of Rs. 50 each, amounting to Rs. 2,200 in total.
Jio users are also getting 8GB free data under the cricket teaser pack. The 8GB of additional data is only for four days. It’s being rolled out to users, but the only way to check if you’ve got the add-on is to go to the MyJio app and visit the My Plans section. Jio also launched an AI-based brand engagement platform, called Jio Interact, as a part of the MyJio app. The first service you get with Jio Interact is Live Video Call, to chat with Amitabh Bachchan, where you can ask questions about his upcoming film, and book tickets for it. Over the next few weeks, Jio will also introduce video call centres, and virtual showrooms.
Airtel has announced a new Rs. 129 recharge that nets you unlimited Hello Tunes, and includes 1GB of data per day, with a validity of 28 days. The new Airtel pack also comes with the usual bundled benefits like ‘unlimited’ calls, 100 SMSes per day. Vodafone has new Rs. 511 and Rs. 569 plans. The former gets you 2GB of 3G/ 4G data daily, while the latter will net you 3GB of 3G/ 4G data daily. Both packs are valid for 84 days. It also has a new Rs. 349 plan which includes 3GB daily data, but that has a validity of only 28 days.
BSNL also announced new plans this week. Its new Rs. 99 plan has a validity of 26 days, while the Rs. 319 plan has a validity of 90 days. Both offer unlimited calling, and are available pan India. BSNL also launched a Rs. 349 plan, which gets you 54GB data at 1GB per day, for a validity of 54 days.
The Xiaomi Redmi S2 launch date has seemingly been confirmed by the Chinese company, and the phone will be unveiled on May 10. It’s the first model in the company’s upcoming Redmi S series, and the phone was also spotted on certification sites, showing that there will be at least two variants. As per the leaked listing, the Xiaomi Redmi S2 will have a 5.99-inch HD+ display, and an octa-core processor, along with 2GB, 3GB, and 4GB RAM variants. We also know that there will be a dual rear camera setup. We also know that the phone will be powered by a Snapdragon processor, and it’s likely to come in two colour variants.
We also learned that the Samsung Galaxy S10 will apparently be codenamed Beyond, and will feature an under-display fingerprint sensor. This is in line with previous leaks, and Samsung is reportedly working with Qualcomm, Synaptics, and Taiwan’s Ezestek, to chose a feasible under-display fingerprint sensor technology. It is speculated that the Galaxy maker could pick multiple vendors to ensure no supply issues would emerge at the time of the Galaxy S10 production.
We saw the launch of the Coolpad Note 6 in India. The phone, which has a starting price of Rs. 8,999, comes in two storage variants, of 32GB and 64GB – the latter of which is priced at Rs. 9,999. The phone has a 5.5-inch full-HD display, powered by a Snapdragon 435 SoC, and 4GB RAM. There’s a dual-front camera setup with an 8-megapixel and a 5-megapixel sensor, while there’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back. The phone comes with a 4070mAh battery.
The LG K30 with a 5.3-inch HD display has been launched in the US. The phone has a Snapdragon 425 SoC, and 2GB RAM. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera, and a 2880mAh battery.
The was also the Smartron tbook flex Windows 10 2-in-1 laptop, which launched in India priced at Rs. 42,990. The laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner, and will be available on Flipkart from May 13. It’s a refresh of the Smartron t.book launched in 2016, and features a detachable keyboard. Aside from the entry level core m3 version, there’s also a core i5 version priced at Rs. 52,990.
The GoPro Fusion 360-degree camera launched in India this week, priced at Rs. 60,000. It’s available offline at select Croma stores, and as the name suggests, the new action camera supports 360-degree video recording. We also got the launch of a new TV, the Sony Bravia X9000F, with 4K resolution and HDR, and Android TV. This starts at 55-inches, with a price tag of Rs. 2,39,900, and Sony claims that its TV can adjust non-HDR content to take advantage of the display as well. It also claims to delivery six times the contrast as compared to a normal LED TV.
Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, is leaving Facebook. Koum, along with his co-founder Brian Acton, became a part of Facebook when they sold WhatsApp to the social network for more than $19 billion (roughly Rs. 1.26 lakh crores) in 2014. Acton had already left Facebook some months ago, and now Koum has followed suit amid rumours of disagreements over privacy and advertising.
Apple reported revenue and profit that beat analysts’ estimates and projected continued sales momentum, calming concerns about demand for the iPhone. It sold 52.2 million iPhone units in the fiscal second quarter, up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Apple said it sold 9.1 million iPad units in the quarter, up from the 8.9 million in the year-ago period.
“India, we set a new first-half record,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question, adding, “So we continue to put great energy there and try to – our objective over time is to go in there with all of our different initiatives from retail and everything else. And so we’re working towards those things. It’s a huge market and it’s clear that many people will be moving into the middle class over time, as we’ve seen in other countries.” Cook is referring to the October to March period.
Facebook announced that it’s going to introduce a clear history feature to remove your browsing history, although this will take some time to implement. Beyond that, users will also be able to review the information that the social network sees from websites and apps, but Zuckerberg claimed that this will hurt your Facebook experience. The company is also launching a dating service within the Facebook app, though again, this is something which is still in the offing.
Xiaomi this week launched its music and video streaming services in India, bringing various content providers under a single umbrella. Some partners include SonyLIV, Hungama Play, Voot, AltBalaji, Zee5, Viu, and TVF, among others. At the same time, it also filed for a Hong Kong initial public offering on Thursday, giving investors the first detailed look at the company. Xiaomi said its revenue was CNY 114.62 billion ($18 billion) in 2017, up 67.5 percent against 2016. It also said it made a net loss of CNY 43.89 billion versus a profit of CNY 491.6 million in 2016. Operating profit for 2017 was CNY 12.22 billion, up from CNY 3.79 billion a year ago.
If you’re a gamer, you’re probably avidly waiting for Red Dead Redemption 2, the follow-up to the beloved cowboy-simulator from Rockstar. We now know that the game is priced at Rs. 3,999 in India, on PS4 and Xbox One, which is in line with other games this generation. The game releases on October 26, and pre-orders are already live, though there’s no news about freebies, or a special edition yet.
If you’re watching the e-commerce space, the big news this week is that Walmart has reportedly reached a deal with Flipkart, and is set to acquire 75 percent of the Indian company for approximately $15 billion (roughly Rs. 1 lakh crores). Google-parent Alphabet is also reportedly likely to participate in the investment with Walmart. Amazon was also reportedly in the running, and had apparently made an offer to buy 60 percent of Flipkart. However, the latest reports seem quite clear that Walmart has taken the lead on this deal.