It’s no secret that India is one of the prime markets for Google right now, and the company has largely tried to make sure its products make it to the country in their first wave. Even Android Go, Google’s initiative to create a stripped-down version of Android for entry-level smartphones, has been developed with India as one of its key markets.
The Economic Times reports that Google is working on a midrange Pixel smartphone for “price-sensitive” markets, including India, that will be released in July or August, according to industry executives who recently had meetings with Google. Additionally, the tech giant is planning to expand distribution into general trade and increase spending on marketing similar to what Apple and Samsung have been doing in India.
Besides the Pixel phones, Google may also be planning to bring more of its devices to India. The report notes that the company is exploring the launch of the Google Pixelbook, Google Home smart speakers, as well as its IoT products like doorbells, cameras, alarm systems, and smoke detectors that are sold under the Nest Brand. It adds that Google plans to introduce all these products over the next year.
“Google is excited about the expansion of the consumer products business in India with the advent of the cheap 4G internet led by Reliance Jio and other operators which it says will help to realize the maximum potential of these products,” said a leading retailer who had participated in the meet to Economic Times.
Furthermore, Google also plans to amp up its offline presence by expanding brick-and-mortar distribution through hardware distributor Redington as well as “in-store branding and signage in selected stores, and set up exclusive zones with specially designed fixtures like Apple,” an executive said. Stores have accounted for 36 percent of Pixel sales in India while e-commerce sales account for 38 percent.
The main reason behind Mountain View not doing a rapid expansion is the issue of brand recognition — many Indians are still oblivious that the search engine also sells hardware.
ASUS outs cheaper ZenFone Max M2 with pure Android software
A great contender in the budget segment
Alongside the launch of the ZenFone Max Pro M2, ASUS also introduced a budget-oriented device: the ZenFone Max M2. The non-Pro version of ASUS’ newest line of phones with big batteries cuts down its specs to meet the affordable price point.
Understandably, the ZenFone Max M2 is rocking a slightly less powerful chipset than what the Pro variant has. It’s using the new Snapdragon 632 processor with either 3GB or 4GB of memory and up to 64GB of storage.
Its 6.26-inch display is less sharp because of its HD+ resolution, but it still has a full-screen design and, of course, a notch. ASUS has to cut corners in battery capacity as well by putting a humbler 4000mAh cell. It’s still bigger than most, though.
It also has a rear-mounted fingerprint reader that works hand-in-hand with face unlock using the front camera.
Speaking of camera, the ZenFone Max M2 is equipped with an AI-enabled 13-megapixel main shooter paired with a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel front snapper with its own LED flash.
The phone runs a stock version of Android, which is something that fans asked for according to ASUS. It’s still on Oreo with no timeline for when Pie is coming. Just to be clear, this is not an Android One phone, so don’t expect timely software updates for it.
Pricing starts at INR 9,999 in India for the 3GB+32GB variant and INR 11,999 for the 4GB+64GB model. In Indonesia, Lazada will exclusively offer the ZenFone Max M2 starting at IDR 2,300,000.
Nokia 8.1 is here to reclaim the midrange segment
Nokia and Android One are a killer combination
The Nokia 7 Plus was launched earlier this year and has been among the most acclaimed midrange phones. While other companies have been trying their luck with trendy short-lived features like the notch, increasing megapixels, and AI-backed smart additions, HMD Global focused on making just a perfect smartphone.
Carrying the same legacy forward, the Nokia 8.1 has been announced globally and quickly made its way to India. The Finnish licensee has been making a mark in developing markets steadily and intends to let its products speak for themselves instead of spending millions on marketing.
The Nokia 8.1 has been priced at INR 26,999 and is available in Blue/Silver and Iron/Steel color options. It will go on sale starting December 25 via Amazon, Nokia.com, and offline partner retailers. Pre-booking the phone will entitle you to six-month screen replacement warranty from Servify and 10 percent cash back on HDFC Bank credit and debit card.
The phone has a very premium design and unlike its predecessor, the Nokia 8.1 has an all-glass back. The body is built with 6000-series aluminum that has dual tone color coating.
On the front is a 6.18-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The brand has emphasized its PureDisplay screen technology that offers a higher contrast ratio and sharper output along with HDR10 support.
Powering this device is the recently launched Snapdragon 710 SoC along with 4GB of RAM. The internal storage continues to be 64GB, though it’s expandable via a microSD card.
The back has ZEISS-powered 12- and 13-megapixel dual-cameras while the front has a single 20-megapixel selfie shooter. Backing these internals is a 3500mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. In line with all Nokia-branded phones, the Nokia 8.1 is a part of the Android One program and ships with Android 9 Pie out of the box.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 is bigger, faster, and still runs pure Android
ZenFone without the ZenUI
Just before the year ends, ASUS introduced an update to its ZenFone Max Pro lineup. Dubbed the M2, the newest ZenFone inherited the same pure Android software of its predecessor while the rest of the phone has been upgraded.
ASUS’ new ZenFone Max Pro M2 is slightly bigger than the M1 with its 6.3-inch display and it has Gorilla Glass 6 protection. It also has a slightly taller aspect ratio at 19:9 and a higher screen-to-body ratio. Although, it now has a notch like its more premium ZenFone cousins.
Surprisingly, the new ZenFone is equipped with a tried and tested Snapdragon 660 processor which puts it in the league of the Nokia 7 Plus and Vivo V11. It even has up to 6GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage. On paper, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 is more powerful than the ZenFone 5.
Camera-wise, it’s got a main 12-megapixel f/1.8 shooter coupled with a 5-megapixel depth sensor. An upgraded 13-megapixel sensor takes care of the selfies along. The phone features all the beautification effects and AI enhancements.
The huge 5000mAh battery found in its predecessor is present as well. The phone still charges via micro-USB and has no support for fast charging.
Even though this is an ASUS phone, it doesn’t have ZenUI because it runs an unskinned version of Android. It’s bare with no bloatware, but it’s not part of the Android One program. Software updates will come from ASUS, so it may take some time to have the latest version available. It has only Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box.
ASUS launched the ZenFone Max Pro M2 simultaneously in three key Asian markets.
In the Philippines, the 6GB+64GB variant is priced at PhP 14,995, while the 4GB+64GB variant which is exclusively available on Shopee and Lazada goes for PhP 12,995.
India will have the 4GB and 6GB variants for INR 14,999 and INR 16,999, respectively. There’s an even more affordable 3GB+32GB combo for just INR 12,999.
Indonesia also gets all three variants starting at IDR 2,800,000 for the 3GB model, the 4GB model is at IDR 3,200,000, and IDR 3,700,000 for the highest-end variant with 6GB memory.
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