Welcome back to our weekly recap of all the news you can use from the world of technology and gadgets. Xiaomi was in the news a lot this week, thanks to some interesting announcements. For one thing, the company has announced a smartphone exchange programme in India, under which you can exchange your old smartphone in order to get a discount when you buy a new Xiaomi phone at a Mi Home store. The company established as many as 13 Mi Home outlets across the country in just seven months following the debut of its first brick-and-mortar store in Bengaluru in May.
To assess value of the users' phones, Xiaomi has tied up with Cashify, a New Delhi based company that specialises in repurchasing old phones. The Cashify team will determine the exchange value, and purpose the discount value for a new phone, when you take your phone to a Mi Home. You can only exchange one phone at a time - you can't gather multiple old phones together for a bigger discount on a new phone under this offer.
Xiaomi also teased the "Desh Ka Smartphone", an entry-level handset that's expected to launch next week. Although the company hasn't revealed more yet, it's most likely to be the Redmi 5A that will launch in the country. The entry-level Redmi 5A was recently unveiled in China, and claims an eight-day battery. The phone is priced at CNY 599 in China, or roughly Rs. 5,900, but as of now there are no leaks about India pricing.
We also got a fresh look at the upcoming Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, which was leaked the Chinese site Weibo. The leaked image showed the phone running MIUI 220.127.116.11, and confirms previous leaks about the 5.99-inch display, with a full HD+ resolution. The leaked image also showed 64GB storage, along with a 4000mAh battery, 12-megapixel rear camera, and Snapdragon 605 SoC. It's also believed that the soon to be released phone will have an 18:9 aspect ratio, a first for the Redmi Note series of phones.
Meanwhile the India price of the Nokia 2, which was unveiled in India in October by Nokia-brand licensee HMD Global, has been revealed. The phone went on sale in India on Friday, November 24, priced at Rs. 6,999. The smartphone has already gone up for pre-orders in Russia and the US. It is available via offline mobile retailers, and comes with freebies such as benefits from Reliance Jio giving an additional 5GB of data on every recharge of Rs. 309 or above for 9 recharges until August 31, 2018.
The dual-SIM phone has a 5-inch HD display, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 SOC, with a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, along with 1GB RAM. The phone has an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 2-megapixel font camera, and 8GB storage, and a 4100mAh battery. That's not much in terms of specs, though HMD claims it can offer a great experience through the work it's done on optimisation.
If the Nokia 2 is the company's budget entry, at the other end of the spectrum, it has the Nokia 8 flagship, and that phone has now started receiving the Android 8.0 Oreo update. The smartphone went on sale in India last month, and the Nokia 8's Oreo update starts rolling out in India from Friday night. The Nokia 8 has a 5.3-inch QHD display, with a Snapdragon 835 SoC and 4GB RAM. The dual-rear camera includes two 13-megapixel sensors, one RGB and one monochrome. On the front, it has another 13-megapixel sensor, and comes with 64GB of inbuilt storage, and a 3090mAh battery.
China's Vivo also had a launch in India this week, bringing in the Vivo V7 selfie smartphone. The phone has been launched at Rs. 18,990, and is essentially a smaller version of the Vivo V7+ that was released in September. The V7 has a 24-megapixel front camera, bezel-less design, and 18:9 aspect ratio. The big differences with the V7+ are that the V7 has a smaller battery, less storage, and of course, a smaller display.
The phone will go on sale from Saturday at retail stores, and is already available online via Flipkart. The phone has a HD+ display resolution, and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC clocked up to 1.8GHz, and 4GB RAM. It comes with 32GB storage, and has a 3000mAh battery.
Meanwhile, the Reliance Jio effect continues in telecom prices, as all telcos continue to offer similar lucrative new plans. Aircel has launched a new plan for new subscribers to get local calls at 20p for Rs. 93 for a year. It's also offering unlimited voice calls at Rs. 349 for 84 days. The new tariffs have been launched in Kolkata for now, and the company is also offering an 84-day pack for Rs. 348 that gets you 300 minutes of voice calls per day capped at 1,200 minutes per week, and also 1GB of 3G data per day.
Aircel followed this up with a new announcement for subscribers in Mumbai with offers on unlimited voice calls. Existing Aircel subscribers can get unlimited local and STD calls and 2G data at Rs. 199 for 28 days, while new subscribers can get similar benefits at Rs. 178 for 28 days. Aircel previously launched a 20-paisa per minute tariff for its subscribers in the Delhi circle. The pack comes at Rs. 104 and offers a year-long validity.
Vodafone also has an unlimited calls offer for just Rs. 199 for 28-days. However, the data being bundled here is just 1GB for the entire 28 day period. There are also daily and weekly caps on the bundled calls - you're limited to 250 minutes a day, and 100 minutes in a week, after which you're charged at 30p per minute for calls. Also, users cannot make calls to more than 300 unique numbers within a week. This plan has been launched in Delhi right now.
Meanwhile, although you thought you can stop Google from tracking you, a recent report revealed that Android phones track your location even if the GPS is off, using cell tower data. Google has been collecting this user data as long as your phone is connected to the Internet, and claims that it's to improve message delivery - the company has been collecting this data for 11 months, but will stop doing so by the end of November, it said.
In other news, the OnePlus 5T - which was launched in the US last week - went on sale in India this week. The company held two early access sales, and claims to have sold out completely in minutes, while Amazon India announced that the OnePlus 5T was the highest grossing product sold in a single day for Prime members.
There were also a bunch of rumours about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9. According to one report, Samsung is going to take on Apple's Face Unlock feature with an enhanced iris scanner. Just like the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S9 is rumoured to have an 8-megapixel front camera sensor with an autofocus lens. This suggests that the new Samsung handset would have something similar to the TrueDepth system that exists on the iPhone X to enable the next level of facial recognition.
The phone's design was also leaked in new images, showing dual rear cameras. According to the leak, the rear cameras will be placed in a vertical alignment instead of horizontal, along with a fingerprint scanner just under the camera module. Some of the other details rumoured for the Galaxy S9 include presence of 4GB or 6GB of RAM.
Also, according to a report, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be previewed at CES 2018, the technology show that takes place in Las Vegas in January. Evan Blass of VentureBeat, famous as tipster @evleaks on Twitter, claims that Samsung is set to bring the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ at CES for their first public appearance, though both the smartphones would be launched formally in March. Blass reports that the Galaxy S9 series will be "nearly identical" to their predecessors and will include some hardware upgrades.
Aside from this, we also got a look at the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2018), which will be replacing the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), thanks to leaked case renders that also show some details of the phone. The phone will have an 18:9 display aspect ratio, with the fingerprint scanner shifted to the back of the device, and a single camera module on the back. We can expect the successor to launch during the CES 2018.
There's also a report suggesting that a made in India iPhone SE 2 will launch in early 2018. The new model will be the follow-up to 2016's iPhone SE, and will reportedly be manufactured by Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) Wistron at its Bengaluru factory that already produces the original iPhone SE. The local manufacturing process is already helping Apple maintain an affordable price of the iPhone SE in India. This trend would continue with its next version.