Fifty years back the United States became the first country to send man to the Moon. Since then, many countries like the former-Soviet Union, China, and the EU have tried to accomplish similar feats. Thanks to advancing technology, we no longer need to send humans to the Moon for exploration. Rovers and satellites have sufficient capabilities to explore the surface and all operations can be handled remotely.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been at the cutting edge of technology and managed to make huge strides in space exploration. The agency is India’s backbone for sending satellites and has a spectacular track record of successful launches. Their first mission to the Moon was Chandrayaan-1 and it was launched in 2008. The spacecraft was able to complete 95 percent of its objectives before a connection was lost and it crashed on the Moon’s surface.
Now, India is back with a new project called the Chandrayaan-2. Chandra means Moon in Sanskrit and Yaan means a vehicle, the project marks the entry of the developing country in an elite club of nations with similar space exploration capabilities. In fact, the mission has cost just INR 1,000 crores, equivalent to US$ 145 million. For comparison, a single Transformer movie costs upwards of US$ 200 million.
This cost-effective method of research and development gives India a unique edge. The Chandrayaan-2 intends to do a soft-landing on the surface of the Moon. So far, only the US, China, and Russia have been able to master soft landings and India aims to join the list.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft consists of an orbiter named Vikram and a moon rover called Pragyaan. The landing module sits on top of the rocket and is covered in a composite golden film to protect the components from extreme temperatures. The surface rover is safely tucked inside the lander and shall come down a ramp once the soft-landing is complete.
Propelling the spacecraft is a GSLV Mk 3 rocket (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) that’s 44 meters tall and weighs 640 tons. After separation, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will travel 3.84 lakh kilometers and land near the South Pole of the Moon, a region which hasn’t been fully explored by humans yet.
The mission was supposed to launch in the early hours of July 15 but a last moment technical snag in the rocket delayed the launch. Now, ISRO has announced Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on July 22 at 2.43 p.m. from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The country also plans to send a manned mission to the Moon in the coming years and has tied up with multiple international companies for transfer of technology.
Xiaomi launches Android One powered Mi A3
A clutter-free user experience
Xiaomi has launched a wide-range of phones this year in an attempt to cover every price bracket. While it has indisputable supremacy in the entry-level bracket, the brand is also slowly catching up on the premium side.
So far, all phones launched by Xiaomi are backed by MIUI. The A-series however, aims to offer a stock Android experience. Partnering with Google for Android One, the device is guaranteed to receive timely security and feature updates.
First announced in Spain, Xiaomi has now unveiled the Mi A3 in India and is available in White, Blue, and Grey. It’ll take on the Realme 5 series, Vivo Z1 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy M40. With this new phone, Xiaomi will improve upon the shortcomings of the Mi A2.
The headphone jack is making a comeback and the design has been drastically improved. The front has a 6-inch HD+ AMOLED display and it also houses the fingerprint sensor. The front and back are protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and splash resistant coating.
Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB or 6GB of RAM and expandable storage. The rear has a triple camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary camera, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. While the front gets a 32-megapixel selfie shooter with support for face unlock.
Backing these internals is a 4,000mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. Software enhancements in the UI are non-existent because the phone ships with pure Android out-of-the-box.
It’ll be available in two configurations — 4GB+64GB costing INR 12,999 and 6GB+128GB costing INR 15,999. Sale starts from xx September via Mi.com and other offline channel partners. There’s a INR 1,000 if users purchase using an HDFC Bank credit or debit card.
Realme 5 series launches with quad-camera setup
Affordable, yet powerful
Realme and Xiaomi have been on a launch spree this year, each trying to undercut the other. The two are focused on grabbing as much market share as possible and have practically taken over the affordable segment. Realme is back with another set of offering, the Realme 5 and 5 Pro.
The Realme 5 series has been launched in India and shall be available in other international markets soon. This comes just a day before Xiaomi is scheduled to launch the Mi A3.
To start with, the phone has a new design that imitates holographic color with texture. The sides are gently curved and two color options are available — Crystal Green and Crystal Blue.
The front has a 6.3-inch Full HD LCD display with a claimed screen-to-body ratio of more almost 91 percent. The notch is smaller and houses the front camera as well as a sensor array. The complete design is splash resistant but lacks an IP rating.
Powering the phone is an octa-core Snapdragon 712 processor with a dedicated AI-engine. It has up to 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage that’s expandable via a micro SD card. For gaming enhancement, Hyperboost 2.0 is a software feature that improves refreshing and frame drops.
48MP camera on a quad-camera setup
The rear has a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 primary lens, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front gets a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. The software comes with various shooting modes like Nightscape, Chromaboost, and auto HDR.
Backing these internals is a 4000mAh battery that supports VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge. The phone runs on ColorOS 6.0 based on Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box.
Pricing and availability
It’s available in three memory configurations. The 4GB+64GB option costs INR 13,999 the 6GB+64GB variant costs INR 14,999 and the 8GB+128GB variant costs INR 16,999. They’ll be going on sale from September 4 via Flipkart and other partner channels.
On the other hand, the Realme 5 comes with a similar design language, but sports a 6.5-inch HD+ display. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB RAM in the top offering.
The quad-camera array consists of a 12-megapixel primary sensor, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front gets a 13-megapixel selfie clicker and all other software features remain same. Backing these internals is a 5000mAh battery.
It’ll also be available in three options. The first one comes with 3GB+32GB configuration and costs INR 9,999 the 4GB+64GB option costs INR 10,999, and the 4GB+128GB unit costs INR 11,999. It’ll be available from August 27 also via Flipkart and other partner channels.
Lastly, Realme has announced it’ll launch a new phone in September that sports a 64-megapixel camera, dubbed the Realme XT.
OPPO Reno 2 with improved camera will launch soon
Here’s everything you need to know
OPPO has confirmed it’ll be launching the Reno 2 on August 28 in India. For now, the brand has revealed it’ll have a quad-camera setup on the rear and one of the lenses will be able to deliver 20x optical zoom.
The teaser also confirmed the phone will sport a Sharkfin pop-up camera, just like the first generation Reno. It swings up from one side and looks a lot more attractive than a small square pop-up module.
Although the launch is scheduled for India, we’re confident the phone will be available in other international markets soon.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Edition, on the other hand, has a triple rear camera setup at the back, while the base variant only houses a dual rear camera setup. Hence, the Reno 2 will be quite an upgrade if the camera is your priority.
It’s unclear whether the Reno 2’s 20x zoom will be hybrid, digital, or periscope, functionality-wise. The previous offering came with a 6x periscope camera, 10x hybrid zoom, and 60x digital zoom.
— OPPO India (@oppomobileindia) August 16, 2019
A similar setup is also available on Huawei’s P30 Pro, but optical zoom is limited to 5x. With the new Reno-series, OPPO intends to grab the premium market. We expect the brand to release multiple variants of the phone to improve reach across every price bracket.
For the affordable price bracket, OPPO’s sister company Realme has been doing exceptionally well in developing markets. The Chinese-brand has been launching upper mid-range phones in India for quite some time but hasn’t been able to make a significant mark yet.
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