India

Google may launch a midrange Pixel phone in India

Google Home is scheduled to launch in India on April 10

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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.

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Apple iPhone XR available for pre-order on October 19

Get ready!

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We’re finally on the cusp of getting a more affordable iPhone. All six colors of the iPhone XR will be available for pre-order starting October 19, 12:01 am (GMT+8) on apple.com/sg and the Apple Store app.

The iPhone XR was launched alongside the iPhone XS and XS Max last month, offering the same flagship features as its high-end brothers have but with a few differences here and there.

The same A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine — one of the most powerful chipsets found in a smartphone today — powers the iPhone XR. It allows for better gaming and camera performance, a more immersive AR experience, and more efficient processing resulting in longer battery life compared to previous generations.

Instead of OLED, the iPhone XR’s display will be LCD — a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display — the most advanced of its kind according to Apple. It’s also an all-glass phone that supports wireless charging, and is wrapped with aluminum around the edges instead of stainless steel. The body is water-resistant with a rating of IP67, and is safe from everyday spills including coffee, tea, and beer. Liquid damage is not covered under Apple’s warranty, however.

In the camera department, the iPhone XR sports the same wide-angle lens found on the iPhone XS and XS Max, but doesn’t come with the 2x telephoto zoom lens. You can still achieve that bokeh effect through Portrait Mode, thanks to internal improvements to the ISP, Neural Engine, and software algorithms. In front, the notch that houses the latest TrueDepth camera system also enables Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting, plus Face ID for security and authentication.

In Singapore, the iPhone XR will be available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage models in black, white, blue, yellow, coral, and (PRODUCT)RED starting at SG$ 1,229 (US$ 892) beginning Friday, October 26 at 8:00 am.

It will also be available in more than 50 countries and territories on the same date, including Malaysia, India, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Other countries in Southeast Asia like Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam will get the iPhone XR starting November 2.

Through Apple GiveBack, customers can trade in their eligible device for an Apple Store Gift Card or a refund of up to SG$ 850 on their purchase. Trade-in values will vary based on the condition and model of your smartphone.

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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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