India

Google launches Home and Home Mini smart speakers in India

Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year

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In a press event in New Delhi, Google announced the launch of the Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers in India. The niche smart home market in India generated quite an interest last year with the launch of Amazon Echo devices powered by Alexa.

They will be available to buy online in the country exclusively via Flipkart, and will also be made available via offline stores. The speakers will support Google Play Music, YouTube, Netflix, Saavn, and Gaana. Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year and there are no immediate plans to bring the larger Google Home Max speaker to India at the moment.

Google Home is priced at INR 9,999 (US$ 154) while the Mini retails at INR 4,499 (US$ 70). Customers buying the Google Home or Google Home Mini from Flipkart will get a free JioFi router and when buying a Google Home from a Reliance Digital or MyJio stores, a JioFi router will be included along with 100GB of 4G data worth INR 2,499 (US$ 39). This offer is valid until April 30. Google is also offering six months of free subscription to Google Play Music with both the Google Home and the Home Mini.

Google Home sports a high-excursion speaker with a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators. It will only be available with a White body, but come with different-colored speaker material — the default it ships with is Slate fabric. The speaker also supports Chromecast, letting users stream movies, shows, and music onto their connected TVs or Google Cast speakers.

The Google Home Mini has four lights on top, which show the speaker is working and turn orange when the mic is muted. There is a mic mute switch near the power (micro-USB) port on the back. Its speaker is touted to deliver 360-degree sound and bears a 40mm driver, while its mic supports far-field voice recognition.

While Google has shared that Google Home works with over 1,500 smart home devices from 200-plus brands, only a few like TP-Link, D-Link, and Philips Hue are popular in India — although still expensive with limited mainstream adoption.

India

ASUS launches two new pocket-friendly phones in India

Carving a new legacy for the ZenFone series

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ASUS completely revamped its product offering this year and launched a midrange phone, the ZenFone Max Pro. To cover up the budget flagship segment, it later launched the ZenFone 5Z. The two have been selling like hot cakes in developing markets thanks to hostile pricing and periodic offers.

Now, the company intends to take on the budget segment by launching the ZenFone Max and ZenFone Lite in India. Just yesterday, Lenovo also launched the K9 and Xiaomi has been ruling the segment with its Redmi 5A and Redmi 6.

ASUS ZenFone Max

The ZenFone Max is priced at INR 8,999 (US$ 122) and will be available for just INR 7,499 (US$ 101) during the festive season. The ZenFone Lite is an even cheaper option coming in at INR 6,999 (US$ 95) and will be available for INR 5,999 (US$ 82) under the same festive season discount. Jio users will be eligible for further INR 2,200 (US$ 30) cashback along with 50GB of free data. The two will be exclusively available via Flipkart.

The ZenFone Max has a 5.4-inch HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. It is powered by a Snapdragon 430 SoC along with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. On the back, it has a single 13-megapixel camera while the front sports an 8-megapixel sensor. The cameras support beauty filters, portrait mode, and HDR.

The ZenFone Lite boasts the same display and processor as the Max but has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. The rear has a 13-megapixel camera while the front has a 5-megapixel selfie shooter. The ZenFone Max owns a 4000mAh battery while the Lite sports a smaller 3000mAh battery.

Both the phones come with expandable storage via a microSD card and support authentication via facial recognition. The ZenFone Max also houses a fingerprint scanner on the back. The duo runs on Android Oreo-based ZenUI 5.0 out of the box.

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Lenovo is taking on the budget segment by launching the K9

Comes with USB-C!

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Lenovo has been making smartphones for years now, and had captured a considerable market in India. Unfortunately, it couldn’t hold on to its share for a long time and slowly faded away. Even though the company launched a few best-selling devices in the K8 series, it took a step back in terms of marketing and portfolio availability.

The company also owns the Moto brand and has been indirectly launching new devices there. Now, Lenovo is back and has decided to launch the K9 series in India. While the previous K8 phones were under the midrange segment, the new lineup is significantly cheaper and placed in the budget segment.

The K9 is priced at INR 8,999 (US$ 122) and will be available exclusively via Flipkart in black and blue colors. The company also launched an even cheaper A5 that starts at INR 5,999 (US$ 82).

Coming to the specifications, the K9 sports a 5.7-inch HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The phone is powered by an octa-core processor along with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. It also has a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

On the rear, it has a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor that can capture pictures with a bokeh effect. The front also offers the same 13- and 5-megapixel dual-camera setup. A small LED flash is located on the front, as well as on the back.

Powering the K9 is a 3000mAh battery that supports 10W charging via a USB-C port. Lenovo would be among the first to incorporate a USB-C port at this price range. The phone is being marketed as a perfect all-rounder that gets everything right.

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Nokia 3.1 Plus is a budget friendly phone with dual cameras

An Android One offering for every price segment

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This year, every major smartphone maker has been in a race to launch as many phones as possible within a short time frame. In developing regions like India, the budget and midrange segments of the market account for the highest volume of sales, and in such a situation, the price becomes a core factor for differentiation.

In the last month, HMD Global has already launched the Nokia 5.1 Plus and 6.1 Plus in the country; now comes the Nokia 3.1 Plus. It is priced at INR 11,499 (US$ 155) for the 3GB memory variant, while the price of the 2GB version hasn’t been announced yet. It will be up for sale starting October 19 via the Nokia online store and offline partners.

The Nokia 3.1 Plus boasts a 6-inch HD display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The front has a 2.5D curved glass while the body is made of polycarbonate. A fingerprint scanner lies on the back of the phone for quick authentication.

Powering the phone is a MediaTek Helio P22 SoC along with 16GB of internal storage in the base variant. The storage is expandable via a microSD card and supports a hybrid SIM setup. On the rear, it has a 13- and 5-megapixel dual-camera combo while the front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter.

Even though this is a lower-midrange phone, HMD Global has managed to squeeze in a huge 3500mAh battery that charges via micro-USB and supports fast charging out of the box. Just like every other Nokia-branded phone, it’s part of Google’s Android One initiative, ensuring faster software updates and a pure Android experience.

The phone will be going up against Xiaomi’s Redmi 6 Pro and the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro in the country.

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