Last week Indian e-commerce major Flipkart signed a Memorandum of Understanding for an exclusive partnership with Taiwanese smartphone maker ASUS. Today, ASUS has announced its first smartphone under the agreement, the ZenFone Max Pro M1.
It will be exclusively available in three variants from Flipkart: INR 10,999 (US$ 166) for 32GB storage + 3GB RAM, INR 12,999 (US$ 196) for 64GB + 4GB, and INR 14,999 (US$ 225) for 128GB + 6GB. It’ll be available in Deepsea Black and Meteor Silver color options beginning May 3 on Flipkart in India and April 25 on Lazada in Indonesia.
Unlike its previous range of smartphones, ASUS says the ZenFone Max Pro M1 runs on pure Android, meaning there’s no bloatware and it runs stock Android Oreo out of the box.
The Max Pro M1 has a smooth metallic finish and the dual cameras are arranged in the same iPhone X style, while there’s a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
The display is a 6-inch FHD+ Full View panel with 18:9 aspect ratio and curved corners. The bezels are moderately sized and ASUS could have put the fingerprint scanner in front if it wanted. The top bezel is home to the camera, sensor, earpiece, and a soft LED flash.
The Max Pro M1 is powered by a Snapdragon 636 SoC along with 3GB or 4GB of RAM. The processor is a high-end, power-efficient chip, so we expect a decent amount of battery life from the this handset.
Not to forget, the device packs a massive 5000mAh battery that’s more than sufficient to give you at least two days of use on a single charge. ASUS says the device offers 35 days of 4G standby and 20 hours of video playback.
In the camera department, it has a dual-camera setup on the rear; the primary lens is a 13-megapixel shooter with f/2.2 aperture while the secondary camera is used for bokeh effects. ASUS has conveniently decided to skip over the secondary lens details. For selfies it has a 8-megapixel lens with f/2.2 aperture.
It also features a five-magnet speaker driven by an NXP smart amplifier that delivers higher volume with lower distortion.
ASUS made this device with the Indian market in mind, hence it obviously is dual-SIM compatible and has a separate microSD card slot for storage expansion.
It’s clear ASUS aims to take on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro which has been the most sought-after device in the segment since launch. Sadly, Xiaomi hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand, and even after two months after the launch, the brand follows the same flash sale format. This is where ASUS and Flipkart plan to grab the vacuumed market.
Google is under investigation for abusing Android
Dominating the market comes with a price
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.
Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share
Can Samsung turn the tides this year?
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.
Xiaomi puts up new sports shoes for crowdfunding in India
It doesn’t have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
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.
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.
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