Reliance Jio is reportedly gearing up to launch a 4G VoLTE-capable feature phone that will cost just Rs. 500. Rumours of such a device have been circulating for a while now, and according to a financial analyst’s research note, it might be unveiled at Reliance Industries Ltd’s annual shareholder meeting which is set to take place on July 21. However, the Jio feature phone might not go on sale till August 15. In addition to that, the company might also launch a new tariff plan targeting feature-phone users priced below Rs. 100. Reliance Jio could be hoping to convert a large number of 2G feature phone users.
The low price point will require Reliance Jio to subsidise more than 50 percent of each unit’s cost. The company might have already ordered up to 20 million of these phones from Chinese suppliers, according to the research report. There could be multiple variants of the Jio feature phone, and according to previous rumours there could be different versions with Qualcomm and Spreadtrum processors. Other likely specifications of the 4G VoLTE phone include a 2.4-inch screen, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a 2-megapixel rear camera and VGA front camera, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Of course Jio’s apps and services will be integrated.
On a related note, Reliance Jio has managed to hold on to its lead in terms of 4G download speeds for six consecutive months. Data from TRAI’s MySpeed app for the month of June shows that it still leads Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Airtel, although the average speeds for all four have actually dropped. Reliance Jio’s average download speed in June was 18.809Mbps, with Vodafone at 12.297Mbps, Idea Cellular at 11.685Mbps and Airtel bringing up the rear with 8.233Mbps. Jio is also still in third place in terms of upload speed, where it is beaten by Idea and Vodafone, with Airtel last again.
Ola eyes international expansion
Gadgets 360 has learnt that India’s largest ride-hailing service Ola is eyeing an expansion into International markets, starting with Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, with plans to expand into other Asia markets as well as North Africa at a later stage. This would allow Ola to take on rival Uber in more markets, as the latter continues to be bogged down by controversies and leadership problems.
Motorola and Asus announce launch dates for new models
Motorola will bring its new Moto E4 Plus model to India on July 12, and Asus will finally launch the ZenFone AR on July 13. The budget-friendly Moto phone offers a large 5000mAh battery and 5.5-inch HD screen. There might be more than one variant with different amounts of RAM and/ or storage, and exact prices will be known only at the time of launch. The Moto E4 Plus should be positioned above the Moto E4, which showed up in retail without any fanfare earlier this week.
On the other hand the Asus ZenFone AR, which will launch the next day, is a premium device, packing 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a specially tuned Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, and a vapour cooling system. It was first shown off at CES 2017, where the company boasted that it was the first phone to support Google’s Daydream and Tango platforms for VR and AR applications respectively, enabled by a cluster of cameras and sensors that allow for depth mapping and spatial awareness. There’s a 23-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera, and 3300mAh battery.
Snapdeal reportedly rejects Flipkart’s buyout offer
Flipkart’s negotiations to acquire Snapdeal have reportedly suffered a setback, with the latter rebuffing an offer said to be in the range of $700-800 million. At the time both companies’ investors had reportedly approved the deal, Snapdeal’s valuation was said to be closer to $1 billion. Flipkart is said to be only interested in buying the Snapdeal marketplace, not its logistics arm called Vulcan Express or its digital payments subsidiary, Freecharge. However, the two companies have supposedly not called off their negotiations despite the setback, and so Flipkart might come back with a higher offer or decide to call it off at a later stage.
Nubia N2 witih 16-megapixel front camera launched in India
ZTE’s subsidiary Nubia has launched the selfie-focused N2 smartphone in India, priced at Rs. 15,999. It boasts of a 16-megapixel front camera and a 5000mAh battery. The Nubia N2 has a 5.5-inch 720×1280-pixel screen, octa-core MediaTek MT6750 SoC, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It can work with two Nano-SIMs in a hybrid dual-SIM configuration, and supports 4G with VoLTE. The Nubia N2 also runs the Nubia UI 4.0 skin on top of Android 6.0. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor while the one in front goes up to 16 megapixels, with an f/2.0 aperture and 80 degree field of view.
Samsung launches a new colour for the Galaxy S8 and S8+
Capitalising on the success of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, Samsung has introduced a new colour option called Orchid Gray. Both phones will be available in this new option starting from July 5 online and July 12 in select offline stores, priced at Rs. 57,900 and Rs. 64,900 respectively. Samsung calls this new colour a style statement. All specifications and features remain identical to those of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ launched earlier this year. Samsung is offering a free wireless charger and cash back on HDFC credit cards.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and HTC ‘Ocean Life’ rumours begin to swirl
Xiaomi is reportedly working on its next-gen Redmi Note 5, and according to leaks, it could be powered by Qualcomm’s recently announced Snapdragon 630 SoC. There could be two variants, one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It is also expected that the screen will be a 5.5-inch full-HD panel. There could be a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 13-megapixel one in front. Unlike previous Redmi models, the fingerprint scanner is rumoured to be on the front of the alleged Redmi Note 5. By the time it is released, it could run MIUI 9.0 based on Android Nougat.
HTC is also preparing a new model, codenamed ‘Ocean Life’ which is rumoured to support the same Edge Sense squeeze sensors as the flagship U11. The rumoured model would be a cut-down version of the U11, with a 5.2-inch full-HD screen, Snapdragon 660 SoC, and 16-megapixel cameras on the front as well as back. Little else is known, but further leaks are likely to appear before launch time.
Samsung rumoured to be developing a Bixby speaker; launches Galaxy J5 Pro
Samsung is reportedly working on a Bixby-powered home speaker, along the lines of Amazon’s Echo series, the Google Home, and the Apple HomePod. However, the company has so far had to delay the launch of voice features for Bixby outside of South Korea for unspecified reasons, most likely difficulties processing natural language. Bixby was launched with the Galaxy S8 earlier this year to take on Google Assistant and Siri. Bixby is expected to become a feature of multiple Samsung products including home appliances.
Samsung has also unveiled a new variant of the Galaxy J5, called the Galaxy J5 Pro. The device has so been launched only in Thailand. It has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage compared to 2GB and 16GB respectively, but all other specifications remain the same.
India ranked 25th for cyber safety preparedness
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union has ranked India 25th in a survey of countries’ cyber security preparedness. Singapore leads the list, with the US coming in second. They are followed by Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Germany is one step behind India in 26th place, while China is ranked 34. Over 50 percent of countries do not even have a national cyber security policy, according to the ITU. Equatorial Guinea is in last place among the 195 countries surveyed, with a score of zero. Scores were calculated by factoring in countries’ legal, technical and organisational institutions, educational and research capabilities, and cooperation in information-sharing networks.
Skype Lite Aadhaar integration goes live
Microsoft launched its Skype Lite app for low-end Android smartphones in February this year specifically for Indian market. At the time, the company demoed the upcoming Aadhaar verification feature. On Wednesday, the company added Aadhaar integration to the app with its latest update.
Indus OS, Yes Bank to launch OS-integrated UPI payment platform
Indus OS, the Indian-language-focused smartphone OS based on Android, will soon have an integrated UPI payments feature. The company of the same name has partnered with Yes Bank to develop the UPI integration which will allow users to send and receive money using SMS messages, the dialler interface, and also third-party apps. Indus OS is also working on Adhaar integration features. The company hopes that it will be able to encourage the use of digital services in India. The feature will roll out in the third quarter of this year, according to the company.
Energizer and Motorola launch accessories in India
Energizer, best known for its batteries, has licensed its name to Avenir Telecom for a range of mobile accessories which have now been launched in India. The range includes tempered glass screen protectors, cases and covers, cables, car kits, chargers, and USB hubs. The products are priced between Rs. 399 and Rs. 2,999 and will go on sale across online and offline channels from July 17. The company plans to expand into other product categories over time.
Motorola has also launced two wired headsets, called the Earbuds Metal and Earbuds Sports. Both are priced at Rs. 999, and will be available all over India. The Motorola Earbuds Metal is ultra-light, while the Earbuds Sport is plastic but comes with removable ear hooks to keep the earbuds in place while exercising. Both models are water resistant and will be available in four colours each.