Smartphones

ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe unboxing

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It may be late to the market, but the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is finally starting to trickle out, with Asia being the next stop for the Taiwanese manufacturer’s most premium — and most expensive — smartphone yet.

ASUS certainly took its sweet time releasing this one, and it shows: The Deluxe is luxe from the inside out and beyond the hardware. Its box alone is likely to elicit “oohs” before it’s even opened, enough to give the impression that what’s inside is valuable. (To be perfectly clear, it is; the $700 5.7-inch Deluxe costs as much as an iPhone 7 Plus or a Pixel XL.)

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Our 5.7-inch Deluxe in gold came in this sturdy navy blue box. The box features a magnetic flap that keeps it closed and holds the package together.

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The inside of the box reveals a fancy interior (accentuated by ASUS’ concentric-circle detailing, of course); it is broken up into compartments with the unit up top, and the accessories and documentation stored underneath. There’s a pull-out tab for the hidden compartment.

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The bundled charger (and Type-C cable) outputs at up to 9 volts and supports fast charging. We’ll reserve our judgment for the review, but so far we’ve been able to consistently get back to a full charge in a little over an hour.

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The white-and-silver wired earphones are housed in a plastic casing. It comes with three sets of additional earbud attachments, so you’re more likely to find one that fits snug in your ear. We like them. A lot. Apart from the phone (duh!), they’re the highlight of this unboxing. We haven’t tested them thoroughly yet so we can’t be sure of their quality. Check back in the coming days.

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The branded SIM eject tool is the same one you’ll find bundled with other ZenFone models released this year.

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First impressions

By now, you must be wondering: “So, what about the handset?” Well, there’s certainly a lot to like about the the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. It’s lightning fast — absolutely the most powerful and responsive ZenFone we’ve used thus far, bar none; the AMOLED display is lovely and incredibly crisp; and the cameras take vibrant, detailed images.

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Everything seems to be in order here. But, as you know, some phones — especially the most expensive ones — deserve a deeper dive than others. And we’ll be sure to take that plunge in the days to come. By then, we’ll be sure to arrive at a definitive conclusion as to whether or not this phone is worth the wait and high price of admission.

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India

Nokia 6.1 Plus is here to spice up the midrange segment

The first Nokia-branded phone to sport a notch

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2018 is undoubtedly the year of midrange phones. While we’ve seen some amazing innovation coming in this year like the in-display fingerprint scanner and moving camera module, they have been limited to the top-tier for now.

The actual innovation has been happening in the midrange segment where we’ve seen companies launch new phones every few months, and for the first time, there have been no compromises. Right from the design to the processor, everything is becoming near perfect. Thanks to initiatives like the Android One program, we are also assured that these phones will last you at least two years.

Joining the bandwagon, we now have HMD Global’s Nokia 6.1 Plus. The phone was launched a few months back in China and is also called the Nokia X6. For the global markets, HMD Global already has a streamlined product lineup that includes the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 5.1.

The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 15,999 (US$ 230). It will be exclusively available for purchase via Flipkart and Nokia Online Store starting August 30.

It has a 5.8-inch Full HD+ display and is the first Nokia-branded phone to sport a notch. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 636 SoC along with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Storage is expandable via a microSD card and it supports a hybrid SIM setup.

On the rear, the Nokia 6.1 Plus houses a 16- and 5-megapixel dual-camera arrangement that supports AI-powered portrait mode and automatic scene recognition. The front has a 16-megapixel snapper that is Face Unlock-compatible. The back of the phone also has a fingerprint scanner for authentication and 3060mAh battery that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.

Continuing HMD Global’s strategy, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is also a part of the Android One program and ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, without any bloatware.

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India

OPPO India launches the F9 Pro with a unique notch

Redefining the trend

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OPPO has been increasing its focus on the Indian market in the last few quarters and has already brought its flagship Find X to the country. In a bid to establish itself as a long-term player, the brand has also started a new sub-brand called Realme to capture the budget segment.

The company today announced the launch of the OPPO F9 Pro in India; the device will be succeeding the F7 that was launched in March. To avoid any confusion, OPPO has also launched this phone in other markets like the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam where it’s called the F9.

The design on this phone is further refined and has glass backing that creates a color gradient along with different patterns that vary according to the configuration. The notch on this phone is a lot smaller than what we’re currently seeing in the industry and is similar to a tiny “water-drop.”

This is also the first time OPPO’s F-series phone will have a rear dual-camera setup. The phone has a 16- and 2-megapixel setup that has AI-backed features like beautification and portrait mode. The front camera is a massive 25-megapixel shooter that has advanced AI-powered face enhancement and auto scene recognition features.

It’s controlled by a MediaTek Helio P60 chipset and comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Another highlight of the phone is its battery, rated at 3500mAh, which supports VOOC Flash Charge that can get you two hours of usage with just five minutes of charging.

The phone runs on ColorOS 5.2 that is OPPO’s skin based on Android 8.0 Oreo, and is available in Sunrise Red, Twilight Blue, and Starry Purple. It’s priced at INR 23,990 (US$ 345) and will be exclusively available for purchase via Flipkart.

A cheaper non-Pro F9 is available as well for INR 19,990 (US$ 285). It comes with less memory at 4GB and a lower-resolution 16-megapixel front camera.

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India

Huawei’s Nova 3 to go on open sale starting August 23

More than 50 million units have been shipped globally

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Just last month, Huawei launched the Nova 3 and 3i in India, and since then the duo has been up for purchase via flash sales in India. The company says the two phones have garnered incredible response globally and more than 50 million units have been shipped as of now.

Huawei has announced that the Nova 3i’s next flash sale will be held on August 21. On the other hand, the more powerful Nova 3 will be available via open sales (not flash) starting August 23, 1 PM. Both phones are exclusively sold on Amazon.in, and Prime members can order the Nova 3 from 12 noon itself.

The Nova 3 is priced at INR 34,999 (US$ 500) and competes against the mighty OnePlus 6. The phone has an edge over the OnePlus counterpart thanks to the beautiful glass backing that has nice color gradients. It features Huawei’s latest processor along with added AI capabilities and a GPU Turbo mode for a more refined gaming experience.

The phone comes with a host of offers including zero fee EMI and screen protection insurance. American Express cardholders are eligible for an instant cashback of INR 3,000, while telecom operator Jio is bundling along 100GB of data worth INR 3,300 along with the phone.

The Nova 3i is a midrange phone that features the same premium glass backing along with a slightly weaker processor. Though, it also houses a host of AI-powered features along with the popular GPU Turbo mode.  The phone is priced at INR 20,990 and competes against the Honor Play, Nokia 7 Plus, and the Mi A2.

The Nova 3i too has many offers bundled along, including an instant five percent discount when purchased via HDFC credit and debit cards. Zero-fee EMI options up to nine months are also available.

The two phones are cheaper siblings of the P20 Pro and feature the same high-end design language along with a suite of smart features thanks to EMUI.

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