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.
Realme X launches with pop-up selfie cam, better processor
Should Xiaomi be worried?
Realme has been aggressive in launching new phones since its inception last year and is directly competing against Xiaomi. The brand has been teasing the launch of Realme X for quite some time and has finally launched it in India.
The phone has a premium design with curved edges and a glass-like plastic back panel. On the front is a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display and the notch has been replaced by a pop-up camera. The brand says it has a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent and features Gorilla Glass protection.
Powering the Realme X is an octa-core Snapdragon 710 chipset along with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage in the base variant. Expandable storage isn’t available, but the headphone jack has been retained. It runs on ColorOS 6 out of the box and features Dolby Atmos enhancement for better music output.
The rear sports a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor paired along with a 5-megapixel secondary camera. The front gets a 16-megapixel selfie shooter and Realme claims the pop-up takes just 0.74 seconds to completely slide out. The camera software comes with Chroma Boost, Nightscape, and a redesigned portrait mode to optimize pictures perfectly. Other standard features include beauty mode and AI-based picture improvement.
Backing these internals is a 3765mAh battery that supports VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 technology for faster charging.
The phone was first unveiled in China a couple of months back and shall be going up against Xiaomi’s soon-to-launch Redmi K20 Pro. Realme has also announced a special Spider-Man: Far From Home limited edition phone that features a unique design and user-interface, it’ll cost INR 20,999.
Lastly, the company will also be offering the Naoto Fukasawa collection with Garlic and Onion finishes that come in 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration at a price tag of INR 19,999.
The standard 4GB+128GB configuration costs INR 16,999 and the 8GB+128GB option is priced at INR 19,999. Sale starts from July via Flipkart and Realme online store.
Xiaomi launches affordable Mi Super Bass Wireless headphones
20 hours of non-stop playback
Xiaomi is known for its feature-packed smartphones, but the brand has a massive presence in the lifestyle segment. For now, a lot of these products are limited to Mainland China, but the brand is slowly releasing them in its core markets like India.
Today, the Chinese company launched the Mi Super Bass Wireless headphones in India and they’re priced quite aggressively. This week is going to be even more exciting because the Redmi K20 Pro is scheduled to launch on July 17.
The headphones come with a 400mAh battery that Xiaomi claims can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. In simpler words, it is sufficient to listen to 300 songs in one go. Equipped with 40mm drivers, they are tuned to deliver high bass and pressure-less earmuffs provide a comfortable listening experience over extended periods. The head beam is adjustable and has elastic shafts to rotate the ear muffs.
Lastly, they connect to any smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0, offering wider range and capability to connect two headphones simultaneously to one phone. They can also be used along with a wire if you want truly acoustic output. Operations can be handled via voice commands thanks to an in-built mic and support for virtual assistants.
They’re priced at INR 2,199 (US$ 32) and can be purchased via Amazon.in. Prime Day sale is going on and they can be grabbed for just INR 1,799 (US$26). Color options include Black and Red, as well as Black and Gold.
Previously, Xiaomi has launched its range of smart TVs, air purifiers, and light bulb in India. A couple of weeks back, they also unveiled a trimmer. We expect the brand to launch more of these in the coming future as it slowly scales up operations.
Apple may soon start selling top-end iPhones made in India
Hopefully, the iPhones get cheaper
Apple has been trying to ramp up local production in India for years but has always hit a few roadblocks. In 2016, it finally started making the iPhone SE via its partner Wistron. They slowly expanded the facilities to make space for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 last year.
A new report by Reuters suggests new top-end iPhones that are assembled in India could hit stores as soon as next month. The Cupertino giant has also partnered with Foxconn in the country and their facility is located in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Local sourcing of iPhones will help the brand bypass import duty on fully-built devices as well as meet local regulations for opening its first-hand retail stores in the country. The Indian government currently levies 20 percent import duty on finished devices and this makes the iPhone quite costly in the country right now.
We expect the prices of iPhone XR and XS to go down marginally after production has leveled up to the demand. Currently, every major smartphone brand has local facilities in the country to avoid import duty. Samsung has successfully kept the prices of its flagship phones on par with international rates because of this.
Apple has taken a massive beating in India and its market share is now lesser than one percent. Competition from OnePlus, Samsung, and even Huawei has decimated the giant. Even though it enjoys the widest brand recognition, extremely high prices are a huge hurdle.
The government also plans to make the country a hub for smartphone manufacturing. In fact, Xiaomi has also started sourcing components like PCBs and displays locally. This further gives the brand an edge in avoiding import duty on individual components.
With the ongoing trade war between the US and China, India could very well take advantage and become a secondary smartphone-making hub of the world.
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