Airtel vs. Reliance Jio, Google Pixel, Xiaomi Mi Max Prime, Nokia D1C, RIP Note 7, More This Week
If you are looking for a quick recap of the week’s top tech stories, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive straight in.
In what was a slow week in terms of launches, Airtel made a splash by launching its V-Fiber ‘superfast broadband’ service in the country, starting with Chennai. The move can be seen as Airtel’s latest move in the battle against Reliance Jio, which is said to be testing a broadband service of its own with speeds up to 1Gbps.
The Airtel V-Fiber service – which offers speeds up to 100Mbps – will be rolled out to 87 other cities in India that have Airtel’s broadband service in the coming weeks, starting with Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru. Alongside, Airtel announced that unlimited free voice calling, which was earlier available on select broadband plans, will be extended to all customers.
Elections and freebies go hand in hand in India, and it seems televisions and fridges have given way to laptops and mobiles as incentives for votes. Registrations for the Samajwadi Smartphone Yojna, announced last month, opened this week, and users can now register to receive their free smartphone – which, of course, will be distributed only if the Samajwadi Party comes back to power.
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The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 saga finally came to an end, with the company announcing total halt of production and sales of the smartphone. The company did so among reports that it has been unable to figure out why so many Note 7 units have been exploding, with the fiasco set to cost Samsung $5.7 billion. Samsung India is offering customers who pre-booked the Note 7 a chance to buy the Galaxy S7 or the Galaxy S7 Edge, along with a bunch of freebies. All the hoopla around the smartphone hasn’t deterred some people from continuing to use their Note 7, ignoring warnings from all parties, including Samsung, though now carrying even a switched-off Note 7 could land you in trouble.
(Also see: The Irony Behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall)
Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones went up for pre-order in India, amidst concerns about who will service the smartphone in India, though we clarified there’s nothing unusual about Google’s arrangement with HTC. Google is serious about pushing the Pixel and Pixel XL, with the smartphones even featuring on the Google homepage, one of the most valued piece of real estate on the Internet.
(Also see: Google Pixel Phones Are Here to Fill the Gap Left by the Galaxy Note 7)
The big launch of the week in India was the Honor 8, which comes with dual rear 12-megapixel camera. The smartphone costs Rs. 29,999 but there’s a lot to like about it, as we noted in our review. Honor also revealed two other devices at the event – the Holly 3 and the Honor 8 Smart. The former is a budget device, while the Honor 8 Smart is priced at Rs. 19,999.
A couple of months after it was unveiled, the Asus ZenFone 3 Laser finally went on sale this week. The ZenFone 3 Laser sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 430 SoC with 4GB of RAM. The phone packs 32GB of inbuilt storage that can be expanded via microSD card (up to 128GB) on the hybrid dual-SIM card slot. The Sony Xperia XZ also went on sale this week.
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Xiaomi launched the Mi Max Prime, a variant of the gigantic Mi Max. The only difference between Mi Max and Mi Max Prime is the processor, RAM, and internal storage. While the Mi Max is powered by a Snapdragon 650 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage, the Mi Max Prime is powered by a Snapdragon 652 processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of inbuilt storage. The smartphone will be available during the Diwali With Mi sale, one of three sales kicking off next week, with LeEco and Amazon India hosting the others.
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Intex launched two VoLTE smartphones – the Aqua 5.5 VR and Aqua Craza II – and another one with fingerprint scanner, called the Intex Aqua S2. Even though BlackBerry had announced it is giving up on the smartphone business, the Android-powered BlackBerry DTEK60 went up for pre-orders this week.
In other news worth mentioning, OnePlus launched its online store in India, though on the first day at least, it seemed to be selling nothing more than smartphone accessories. In the world of gaming, there were a host of Nintendo NX related leaks and a new FIFA game was released for mobile devices.
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Finally, one bit of news that will disappoint quite a few. The much-leaked Nokia D1C Android device, may not be a smartphone after all. The device made yet another appearance on a benchmark listing, revealing a 13.8-inch display, indicating the Nokia D1C is actually a tablet, just like the Nokia N1. This will sadden people who continue to hope Nokia will rise from the dead and make a great Android phone, though there are reasons not to give up on that idea just yet.
(Also see: Why Nokia’s Android Phones May Just Be Worth the Wait)