Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea this week revised their mobile tariffs – easily the biggest news of the week. Apart from that, WhatsApp made its fair share of headlines, while HMD Global launched the Nokia 2.3 budget smartphone, Vivo India set a launch date for the Vivo V17, the Vikram Lander was spotted by NASA with the help of an Indian software engineer, Realme revealed when the Realme XT 730G would be launched in the country, while Xiaomi also revealed the the RedmiBook 13 would be launched next week.
Jio new plan prices announced
Reliance Jio this week announced a hike in its mobile tariffs, seeing a raise of 39 percent. The company however claims that there are 300 percent more benefits with its new All-in-One plans compared to previous offerings. The new plans went live on Friday, though the company had announced the rough price hike last weekend, and the actual plans on Wednesday.
Jio new plan prices start from Rs. 199 and go up to Rs. 2,199. The telco says the new All-in-One plans bring benefits such as a daily high-speed data quota, unlimited Jio-to-Jio voice calling, and minutes for non-Jio voice calls, beyond which a 6 paise per minute charge will be applied. As with previous Jio offerings, the All-in-One plans also provide Jio app benefits.
The Jio Rs. 199 plan has a validity of 28 days, and offers 1.5GB of daily data, unlimited Jio-to-Jio calls, as well as 1,000 non-Jio voice calling minutes. On the other hand, the Rs. 2,199 prepaid plan offers a long-term validity of 365 days, and for that period offers 1.5GB of daily data, unlimited Jio-to-Jio calls, apart from 12,000 non-Jio voice call minutes. Other All-in-One plans are Rs. 249, Rs. 349, Rs. 399, Rs. 444, Rs. 555, and Rs. 599. All the above plans come with a SMS quota of 100 messages per day.
Separately, Jio this week had introduced the Rs. 1,776 prepaid plan with a validity of 336 days. The plan is a 4x Rs. 444 plan, offering the same benefits as the Rs. 444 plan except across a longer validity – these include unlimited Jio-to-Jio calls, 4,000 minutes of Jio to non-Jio calls, 2GB data FUP per day, 100 SMS messages per day, as well as access to Jio apps.
Airtel new plan prices, no FUP on unlimited plans
Of course, Jio wasn't the only operator that raised prices this week, with Airtel and Vodafone Idea making similar moves. The two operators posted massive losses this past quarter on provisioning for overdue payments and penalties, which formed a large part of the reasoning behind the price hikes by the operators. Airtel announced its price hike back on Sunday, and the new plan prices range from Rs. 19 all the way up to Rs. 2,398.
Airtel's new plans are touted to offer unlimited voice calling, bundled SMS messages, and more. The increases work out to a minimum increase of 50 paise per day to Rs. 2.85 per day. The new Rs. 19 prepaid plan offers unlimited voice calling benefits, 150MB data, and 100 SMS messages per day for two days. The Rs. 148 prepaid plan offers unlimited voice calls, 300 SMS messages per day, and 2GB data for 28 days. The Rs. 248 plan offers unlimited voice calls, 100 SMS messages per day, and 1.5GB daily data, while the Rs. 298 plan has the same benefits except for 2GB daily data. These last three plans have a validity of 28 days.
The new Airtel Rs. 598 plan has the same benefits as the Rs. 248 plan, except with a 84-day validity, while the Rs 698 plan has the same benefits as the Rs. 298 plan, but once again with a 84-day validity. The Rs. 1,498 plan offers unlimited voice calls, 3,600 SMS messages, and 24GB of data across 365 days, while the Rs. 2,398 plan offers unlimited calling, 100 SMS messages per day, and 1.5GB of data per day.
Separately, Airtel this week made another major revision to its prepaid plans. As per the company, based on customer feedback, it took the decision to remove FUP limits on free calling to other networks. Interestingly, Jio is still maintaining its FUP limits, while Vodafone Idea followed Airtel to remove them late this week.
Airtel was also in the news this week when it admitted a flaw in its mobile app could have exposed the data of millions of its users. The flaw was spotted in the mobile app's API by security researcher Ehraz Ahmed, who had recently found a Truecaller API flaw and shared it with Gadgets 360. Airtel fixed it before the exploit was published.
Vodafone Idea latest plans, FUP calling limit removed
As we've mentioned, Vodafone Idea joined Airtel and Reliance Jio this week to hike its mobile tariffs. Its new plans include four monthly prepaid unlimited packs - Rs. 149, Rs. 249, Rs. 299, and Rs. 399 – all of which offer unlimited voice calling, between 1.5GB and 3GB of data per day, and between 100 and 300 SMS messages a day. As monthly plans, all four have a validity of 28 days.
Coming to the three-month or 84-day validity plans, Vodafone is offering three options - Rs. 379, Rs. 599, and Rs. 699. Benefits include unlimited voice calls, up to 2GB of data per day, and up to 100 SMS messages per day. There are also two unlimited packs with a 365-day validity, priced at Rs. 1,499 and Rs. 2,399. These annual plans offer up to 1.5GB of data per day, and up to 100 SMS messages per day.
Vodafone Idea has also introduced a 2-day validity pack at Rs. 19. There are also combo vouchers offering limited voice call minutes – they are available in denominations of Rs. 49 and Rs. 79. Finally, there are now four new first recharge options, priced at Rs. 97, Rs. 197, Rs. 297, and Rs. 647.
While all the above unlimited plans were revised to include an FUP limit on free outgoing voice calls to other networks, as we mentioned, Vodafone Idea this week followed Airtel by removing the FUP limit. Now, all its unlimited plans have unlimited free outgoing calls to other networks, such as Jio, Airtel, and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
BSNL unveils new plans with reduced validity, telcos seek floor price
BSNL this week revised two low-value prepaid plans - Rs. 29 and Rs. 47. The company has reduced the validity of the Rs. 29 plan from 7 days to 5 days. It continues to offer unlimited voice calls, 1GB of data, and a quota of 300 SMS messages. On the other hand, the Rs. 47 BSNL prepaid plan has had its validity reduced from 9 days to 7 days. It offers 250 minutes of voice calls a day, and 1GB of data. The telco has also withdrawn its Rs. 7, Rs. 9, and Rs. 192 prepaid plans.
Telcos this week also petitioned the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to set a floor price for data services, while also asking for a continuation of forbearance for voice services. COAI Director General Rajan Mathews in a letter to TRAI said the tariff correction in the current level of fierce competition is not possible by any service provider voluntarily and thus the only option available is prescription of a minimum tariff for mobile data service by the Authority.
WhatsApp Kashmir disappearances and new features
WhatsApp was in the news this week for several reasons, the most notable of which was the disappearance of WhatsApp users residing in Kashmir from chat groups. The news headlines this week when it was noticed that users from the region were exiting groups. While initially there was some suspicion as to the reasons for the disappearance, it was later revealed that users were exiting automatically thanks to their accounts having been inactive for 120 days.
To recall, the Internet services in Kashmir were shut down in early August, and earlier this week marked the 120th day of the blockade. This meant that those users who were residing in the region and unable to access their account thanks to the lack of Internet connectivity, were having their accounts deactivated thanks to a standing WhatsApp policy to maintain security and limit data retention.
“WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically exit all their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again,” the Facebook-owned company revealed.
What's more, is that if WhatApp users are unable to access their accounts within 30 days from the point of deactivation, their accounts will be permanently deleted. This means those users will lose their chat logs, images, videos, and other videos shared, unless they are able to back up their accounts in time.
Separately, this week, beta versions of WhatsApp for Android were spotted with more Dark Mode elements. Unfortunately, the WhatsApp Dark Mode elements are not accessible by users, and are disabled by default. The new Dark Mode elements include avatar images and the VoIP screen.
Finally, WhatsApp this week brought call waiting to its Android app. This lets users on a WhatsApp call choose to switch to a second incoming WhatsApp call. However, this would mean that users would cancel the call they are already on – meaning, there is no call holding. The feature was introduced for WhatsApp for iPhone late last month. The update for Android also more widely rolled out the new group privacy settings and fingerprint lock features.
Nokia 2.3 launched
HMD Global this week launched the Nokia 2.3. The company's latest budget smartphone was unveiled at an event in Cairo, Egypt. The Nokia 2.3 is being called a camera and entertainment-focused budget smartphone. The smartphone comes with a dedicated Google Assistant button, a dual rear camera setup, a large display, and a ‘two-day battery life'. While there is no exact India availability information, we can expect the Nokia 2.3 to make its way to the country soon.
The Nokia 2.3 price has been set at EUR 109 (roughly Rs. 8,600), and it will start hitting shelves from mid-December. Specifications include dual-SIM (Nano) card slots, Android 9.0 Pie, a 6.2-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) in-cell display, a MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, 2GB of RAM, a dual rear camera setup (13-megapixel + 2-megapixel), a 5-megapixel front camera, 32GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card (up to 400GB), and a 4,000mAh battery.
Vivo V17 India launch date
Vivo India this week announced a launch date for the Vivo V17. The smartphone will be unveiled in India tomorrow, Monday, December 9. For now, there is still some mystery surrounding the phone, despite a phone with the same model number having been launched in Russia late last month.
This is because the model launched in Russia features a waterdrop-style display notch, while the company is teasing a hole-punch display for India. The company has also confirmed a 32-megapixel front camera – the same as the Russia model. Other Vivo V17 India variant specifications include an L-shaped quad rear camera setup, a Snapdragon 675 SoC, a 4,500mAh battery with 18W fast charging support, and a 6.44-inch OLED display.
Motorola One Hyper, Vikram Lander, and other news this week
Other highlights this week include the launch of the Motorola One Hyper, which features a 32-megapixel pop-up sefie camera – a first for Motorola. It also bears a 64-megapixel helmed dual rear camera setup. It has been priced at $399.99 (roughly Rs. 29,000).
As we mentioned, the crashed Vikram Lander was finally spotted by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The space agency had in September released a mosaic image of the crash site, and asked for help globally to locate the lander by comparing it with earlier images of the same site. This week, it was announced that using the images, Shanmuga ‘Shan' Subramanian, an IT professional from Chennai, was able to spot it.
Oppo India this week launched the Vanilla Mint colour variant of the Oppo A9 2020. Apart from the new colour, the smartphone is otherwise identical to the original Oppo A9 2020, from specifications to price.
Xiaomi this week revealed that the RedmiBook 13 laptop would be launched alongside the Redmi K30 on December 10 at an event in China.
In a similar vein, Realme this week revealed that the Realme XT 730G and Realme true wireless earbuds will be launched in India on December 17.
Separately, the company also revealed that the Realme U1, Realme C1, Realme 1, and Realme 2 will not receive the Android 10-based ColorOS 7 update in India.