Welcome back to our weekly news roundup – this time, the headlines were dominated by a steady stream of leaks and teasers of the upcoming OnePlus 6. The phone’s expected to launch sometime before July, and a leak in China suggests that it’s going to be priced at CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs. 34,200) for the 64GB variant, while the 128GB OnePlus 6 variant is said to be launched at CNY 3,799 (roughly Rs. 39,300), and the top-end 256GB model might set you back by about CNY 4,399 (roughly Rs. 45,600). OnePlus CEO Pete Lau also confirmed the 256GB variant, and an Avengers themed OnePlus 6 variant.
The leak also suggests that there could be an announcement by late April. A short teaser video meanwhile confirmed the OnePlus 6 name, and also the Snapdragon 845 SoC as well as display notch. The phone was also listed on a Wi-Fi certification website, which said the OnePlus 6 will be powered by Android 8.1.0 Oreo out-of-the-box, will come with dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and get Qualcomm’s latest WCN3990 Wi-Fi modem, further pointing to the use of the Snapdragon 845 SoC.
Another leak pointed to a cool feature – the OnePlus handsets have an Alert Slider on the side of the phone, and users might be able to slide to focus with the Alert Slider on the OnePlus 6. It’s not entirely clear if this will be for the rear camera, the front camera, or both. Besides that, CEO Pete Lau also confirmed that users might be able to ‘disable’ the notch on the OnePlus 6. This feature will be similar to the one found in the recently launched Huawei P20. The notch-hiding feature in the OnePlus 6 will be available in a software update after the release of the smartphone, according to Lau.
Beyond that, we also got to hear about one more product that might be unveiled along with the OnePlus 6. A Bluetooth certification listing has revealed the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, a wireless headset along the lines of the Google Pixel Buds. However, it’s worth pointing out that OnePlus has confirmed the OnePlus 6 will retain the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Meanwhile here in India there’s been some rumblings from the various telcos. Reliance Jio closed out the week by announcing a new Rs. 251 recharge, which gets you 2GB data usage per day, with a total validity of 51 days. The pack is targeting IPL 2018 viewers, promising enough data to stream almost every live match through the 51 days, although the data can be used for anything, and not just catching the cricket using the Jio TV app. You need to be signed up for Jio Prime as well – which is free for existing subscribers, through the My Jio app. The Jio 251 pack has a daily limit of 2GB.
Even Airtel subscribers can watch the IPL free, thanks to Airtel TV via the Hotstar app. The move follows the February announcement of the Airtel TV and Hotstar content partnership. Airtel also revived its Rs. 649 plan, which offers 50GB of 3G/ 4G data for postpaid users, with no daily limits, and rollover of unused data in each month’s billing cycle. At the same time, it’s also extended its Airtel Big Byte offerfor broadband subscribers, offering complimentary 1000GB valid for rollover until October 31 this year, at a speed of 100Mbps. This offer is in the Delhi-NCR circle, and comes with a free one year subscription to Amazon Prime, and free unlimited local and STD calling.
Even BSNL wants in on the IPL, and has announced the BSNL IPL Pack, priced at Rs. 248, which gives users 153GB of data across 51 days, capped to 3GB data per day. That’s more than Jio’s offering, but since the telco doesn’t have its own streaming service, you’re going to have to find some way to access the matches; Hotstar has a new all-sports pack which gives you access to one year’s live sports (not just IPL), which would get the job done.
In terms of launches, HMD Global/ Nokia had a good showing with three highly anticipated phones being launched. The most high profile of these is the new Nokia 8 Sirocco, which has been launched in India at Rs. 49,999, as Nokia’s newest flagship. It’s a major update to last year’s Nokia 8 in terms of design, with a curved 5.5-inch QHD display, IP67 dust and water resistance, and a dual camera setup with 2X optical zoom. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 835 SoC, and 6GB of RAM. The phone will be available for pre-booking from April 20, and go on sale from April 30.The Nokia 7 Plus, which has an 18:9 aspect ratio display, was also launched in India, and like the Nokia 8 Sirocco, it will be available for pre-order from April 20, and go on sale from April 30. Starting at Rs. 25,999, the phone has a 6-inch full-HD+ display, powered by a Snapdragon 660 SoC, and 4GB of RAM. It’s packing a dual camera setup at the back capable of 2X zoom, and has a 3800mAh battery on board. Our full review will follow, but we tested the phone’s gaming performance and it handled most games well, heating up a bit only when we played futuristic racer Breakneck.The third phone that Nokia launched this week is the Nokia 6 (2018). Like the others, this one was also launched at MWC 2018, following its launch in China in January,and is also a part of the Android Oneprogramme, promising timely updates and security patches. The phone also comes with the Bothie feature, first seen in the Nokia 8. With its price starting at Rs. 16,999, this will be Nokia’s top budget option, competing with the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Moto G5S Plus.
The phone, which is now available, has a 5.5-inch full-D display, and it’s powered by a Qualcomm 630 SoC, coupled with 4GB RAM. The phone comes with two storage options – 32GB and 64GB, and there’s a single 16-megapixel camera on the back, while there’s an 8-megapixel front camera. The phone has a 3000mAh battery, which the company says delivers 16 hours of talk time. Expect our review to come soon and bring in some more details about the phone. All three new phones were shaped in some ways by the feedback HMD received to its 2017 range of phones, the company said, while hinting at a possible Nokia 9 flagship in the months to come.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5 has been in India for some time now, but getting your hands on one used be a challenge. That might change now as Xiaomi announced that the phone is on open sale on both Amazon, and also Mi.com. That means no more flash sales, and at the time of writing handsets were available in all the different storage and colour variants.
Xiaomi’s Mi Crowdfunding was also launched in India. It’s a curated platform for “innovation-driven” products, and as of now, there are only two products listed on the website. First up, there’s the Mi Selfie Tripod Stick, which is priced at Rs. 1,099. The second is a Bluetooth Audio Receiver priced at Rs. 999, which can be used to turn any wired speaker or headphones into wireless ones. People can register interest on the website, and it will only confirm the order/ ship the products after a threshold has been met. The company also introduced its Mi Gift Card programme to India, which can be used to buy Xiaomi Products, ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 10,000.
In China, the Xiaomi-backed Black Shark gaming phone is set to launch next week, on April 13. It’s rumoured to take on Razer Phone, and will be targeting developed markets. The phone’s going to come with the Snapdragon 845 SoC, and 8GB of RAM. This phone won’t bear the Xiaomi branding. A different leak meanwhile suggested that the upcoming Xiaomi Mi 7 will come with an under-display fingerprint sensor. This phone is also expected to run on the Snapdragon 845 SoC, but with 6GB of RAM.
Xiaomi also detailed its new digital assistant Xiao Ai, which will initially only be available in China. It was first debuted at the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S launch event in China last month. It could offer contextual responses much like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or even Samsung’s Bixby, and will be available on the Mi MIX 2S out of the box. It could also control smart home devices such as the Mi Robot vacuum cleaner. The company also launched the new Mi Bluetooth earphones, priced at CNY 299, roughly Rs. 3,000. It also launched a new electronic thermometer, at CNY 19.9, or roughly Rs. 200.
It wasn’t a very busy week for phone launches, but we also got the launch of the Panasonic Eluga Ray 550, priced at Rs. 8,999. It’s the company’s first phone to feature an 18:9 aspect ration display, running at an HD+ resolution. It’s powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and 3GB of RAM, and has a 13-megapixel rear, and 8-megapixel front camera. There’s 32GB of storage, and a 3250mAh battery.
In China, Huawei brand Honor announced the launch of its latest budget smartphone, the Honor 7A. The phone is expected to launch in India in the coming weeks, and is priced at CNY 799, roughly Rs. 8,300. That’s for the variant with 2GB RAM/ 32GB storage, and it’s powered by a Snapdragon 430 SoC. The 2GB RAM variant comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera, while the 3GB variant adds a 2-megapixel secondary sensor to that. Both have an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 3000mAh battery.
We also got a battery of laptop launches this week, from the Dell G series of affordable gaming laptops, which start at $850 (around Rs. 55,300), to the Alienware 15 and 17 gaming laptops, priced at $2,400 (around Rs. 1.56 lacs) onwards. MSI also launched three new gaming laptops in India, starting at Rs. 1,64,990, and Asus has refreshed its ROG series gaming systems with the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processors, though price details have not been announced yet.
Facebook meanwhile came clean this week and admitted that most of its 2 billion users had their data scraped from their profiles. Although the use of Facebook’s systems came to light with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company admitted that others would have also made use of the same tools to gather user data. Facebook has now updated its terms of service, to make its policies clearer to users, and better explain how it uses your data.
Facebook also revealed that the user data of over 5 lakh Indians was spared with Cambridge Analytica. That’s a very small figure compared to over 70 million people from the US, and 2.7 millions Europeans, but not an insignificant number by itself. “Starting on Monday, April 9, we’ll show people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use – and the information they have shared with those apps,” Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook stated. Facebook also suspended Canadian firm AggregateIQ after reports that the firm had access to Facebook users.
However, despite everything, Facebook’s current actions still don’t look too good. It’s being investigated by the UK regulator over political campaigning, and Indonesia’s Communication Ministry is also investigating whether Facebook breached laws on data. Even as this is going on though, Facebook admitted that it’s scanning the messages you send using its Messenger app. What’s more, Facebook deleted CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s messages from people’s inboxes. Once this was brought to light, Facebook quickly announced the roll out of an unsend feature, to recall sent messages, for all users.
There’s also some interesting news about Apple – the company might be planning to get rid of Intel chips in its computers by 2020, according to reports. Apple computer have used Intel chips since 2005, but it might be on the path to using its own chips in just a couple of year’s time. The company has been designing its own iPhone processors since the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and has steadily increased the amount of chip work it handles itself.
While the laptop and desktop computer market has been in a years-long slump amid the rise of smartphones and tablet computers, Mac sales rose 4 percent in 2017. The growth came even as PC sales declined slightly to 259.5 million units, the smallest drop since 2011, according to data from research firm IDC.
There was shocking news earlier this week when a woman went to the YouTube HQ, and opened fire killing three before taking her own life. The early sources suggested this was because of a domestic dispute, though later reports would go on to say that the woman had a problem with YouTube’s policies.
And finally, if you’re a Bitcoin trader in India, some bad news – the RBI has just made it much harder to carry out trades. All organisations regulated by the RBI are now barred from dealing with individuals or businesses that work with Bitcoins. The reason given is that cryptocurrencies raise questions of consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, the RBI noted.