India

ASUS ZenFone 5Z with Snapdragon 845 launches in India

Can ASUS make a dent in OnePlus’ sales?

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ASUS unveiled the new ZenFone 5 line-up at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, and now the top-tier ZenFone 5Z is finally coming to India. ASUS has been teasing the device on Flipkart for the last few days and has finally made the announcement official.

The 64GB storage variant costs INR 29,999 (US$ 437), the 128GB version costs INR 32,999 (US$ 481), while the 256GB one costs INR 36,999 (US$ 540). Two color options are available for all three configurations — Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver. The device will be exclusively available from Flipkart starting July 9.

The device sports a large, 6.2-inch LCD Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19:9 and a notch on top. The device is available in three variants which are, 4GB RAM with 64GB internal storage, 6GB RAM with 128GB storage, and a top-of-the-line variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It’s powered by the latest Snapdragon 845 processor with AI Boost and an Adreno 630 GPU.

For the cameras, it has a dual rear setup with a 12-megapixel primary sensor and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor. The primary sensor comes with 4-axis optical image stabilization for better low-light performance and steadier videos. For selfies, the front houses an 8-megapixel camera that supports Face Unlock.

The camera comes with a host of AI features like Scene Detection, AI Photo Learning, Real-time Portraits, and Real-time Beautification.

Backing these internals is a 3300mAh battery, and ASUS is also shipping along an 18W charger for fast charging through its USB-C port. ASUS claims the AI-powered intelligent charging provides total protection and also helps enhance the battery’s lifespan.

In India, the phone is directly competing against the near-perfect OnePlus 6 and AI-focused Honor 10. What needs to be seen is how the ZenFone 5Z continues ASUS’ upward streak in India just like the ZenFone Max Pro.

Apps

Google is under investigation for abusing Android

Dominating the market comes with a price

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Google has often been accused of monopolizing the smartphone market with the use of Android. While Android as an operating system is open source and anyone is free to make or use the system however they wish, Google’s push of its apps is a bigger problem.

Android is maintained by the search engine giant and the code is available for everyone’s use. But, Google pushes its range of apps in stock Android like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and more. Many accuse the company of forcing itself upon users and blocking the competition from a fair chance.

India’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing Google’s case for the last six months. The enforcement agency is currently at a preliminary stage and no official release has been made. Google, as well as CCI, have declined to comment.

The European Commission found Google guilty of dominating the market since 2011 and it’s abusing its standard practice of installing Google apps. The investigation led to a US$ 5 billion fine from the antitrust agency.

Google and CCI have met in recent months and the complaint was filled by a “group of individuals.” The agency has a track record of taking years to finish or conclude a case and we never know when a verdict might actually come.

Although, the CCI did impose a US$ 19 million fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position.

Android has a massive 85 percent market share and almost every Android phone ships with Google’s suite of apps. These apps, in return, help the search engine push ads to the user and generate revenue for the company.

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India

Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share

Can Samsung turn the tides this year?

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For more than a year, Xiaomi has been leading the Indian smartphone market in terms of market share and there’s no stopping them. The brand has single-handedly managed to oust local brands like Micromax, and even experienced players like Samsung have taken a hit.

According to IDC, in Q4 2018, Xiaomi managed to grab an astounding 28.9 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 18.7 percent. While Vivo and OPPO have managed to grab a decent 9.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, their rate of growth has slowed down considerably.

If we consider the complete year of 2018 against 2017, Vivo has managed to grow just 0.6 percent year-over-year and OPPO actually dipped by 0.3 percent. The report also says that online-focused brands drove the online channel share to an all-time high of 38.4 percent. On the other hand, offline sales registered a meager 6.7 percent growth.

During the last quarter of 2018, Realme managed to grab quite a huge chunk of the market with a share of 7.5 percent. The sub-brand of OPPO was launched just half a year back and has already released a wide array of phones.

The average selling price of phones continued to be in the budget segment at roughly US$ 158 (INR 11,000). More than half of the shipments belong in the US$ 100 to US$ 200 segment, and that’s where brands intend to lead.

In the end, Xiaomi shipped more than 40 million units in 2018, followed by Samsung with almost 32 million. Samsung had been relatively silent last year, but has now changed strategy with the M-series launch. The South Korean giant is focused on taking back the budget and midrange segments by reportedly launching a plethora of phones in the coming months.

Lastly, OnePlus has once again emerged as the leader in the premium segment, followed by Samsung and Apple in the super-premium segment.

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Accessories

Xiaomi puts up new sports shoes for crowdfunding in India

It doesn’t have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi

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Image credit: Xiaomi

For those who are unfamiliar, Xiaomi is not all about electronics. If you visit their Mi Stores, you’ll see a variety of products from phones and TVs to rice cookers and backpacks. Adding to the plethora of products under the umbrella of Xiaomi is the Mi Men’s Sports Shoes 2.

Xiaomi’s venture into footwear is not new; they released a few smart shoes already in China and select markets. This newest one is available in India on the company’s crowdfunding platform.

The shoes are currently priced at INR 2,499 or roughly US$ 35 during the funding period. It’ll go up to INR 2,999 or US$ 42 once they go sale, so you might want to pitch in before it starts shipping in March.

Image credit: Xiaomi

You might be thinking what kind of shoes Xiaomi is offering here. As listed on the crowdfunding page, the Mi Men’s Sports Shoes 2 (quite a long name) has a “5-in-1 Uni-Moulding Technology” which combines five different materials to minimize wear damage. It also has a “10-fishbone structure” for improved balance while offering arch support.

It doesn’t have any batteries or Bluetooth like previous Xiaomi smart shoes, so this is one of the Xiaomi products you can throw in the washer for easy cleaning.

Like Xiaomi’s phones, the available colors are limited to blue, black, and dark gray. If you want your own, we highly suggest signing up and ordering immediately here.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi’s AirDots Pro is the latest AirPods copycat

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