Pixel 3a and 3a XL are Google’s affordable offering for developing markets

Should OnePlus be worried?



Google Pixel 3a | GadgetMatch

Google‘s Pixel lineup has received a lackluster response in developing markets due to high pricing and competition from makers like Samsung and OnePlus. With the launch of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, the company wants to provide an affordable option of owning a “Made by Google” product.

Shipping with vanilla Android, they also bring in Google’s expertise of software-based image production and smarter interface via Assistant. Practically, they’re equivalent to the flagship offerings, but with a few corners cut in the hardware department.

The design is very similar to the Pixel 3. You won’t be able to differentiate between them except for the size. The Pixel 3a has a smaller 5.6-inch OLED display, while the Pixel 3a XL gets a 6-inch screen. Both are powered by a Snapdragon 670 processor with 4GB of memory and 64GB of internal storage.

On the back, both of them house a 12-megapixel camera, while the front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter. On the software side, Google is bringing Time Lapse, Night Sight, Photobooth Mode, and Top Shot (for action shots). Users also have the option of shooting with Super Res Zoom and saving pictures in RAW format.

The Pixel 3a gets a 3000mAh battery and the upsized sibling gets a bigger 3700mAh pack. Both support 18W fast charging and machine learning backed Adaptive Battery usage.

All other software features like the Digital Wellbeing suite, unlimited high-quality storage on Google Photos, and always-on display are also included.

The Pixel 3a will be available for INR 39,999 (US$ 575) and the Pixel 3a XL is priced at INR 44,999 (US$ 645). The two are eSIM compatible and, currently, Jio and Airtel support them in India.

OnePlus has been ruling this price segment for quite some time and with the soon to launch OnePlus 7, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL intend to lure users by providing high-end software tricks and undisturbed Android experience.


Realme skyrockets in India mobile market as Samsung falls

Xiaomi continues to hold its spot



This year Xiaomi and Realme have been constantly fighting each other in the affordable phone segment. Each month we witnessed the launch of a new product, that always ended up killing the competitors previous offering. It’s a never-ending cycle.

However, the sales figures have proven that there’s still no clear winner in sight. According to IDC’s Q3 2019 report, Xiaomi continues to lead the market with a share of 27 percent, followed by Samsung at 18.9 percent. Realme is at the fourth spot with 14.3 percent, just below Vivo.

On the flipside, Realme has registered year-over-year growth of a whopping 400 percent, while Xiaomi grew at a modest 8.5 percent. Unfortunately, Samsung is having a hard time tackling the two younger brands and registered a fall of 8.5 percent.

The average selling price for a smartphone was INR 11,000 (US$ 159). Data also showed that phones under INR 15,000 (US$ 200) still account for 80 percent of the market. But, this segment saw its share drop by five percent on a yearly basis.

The Redmi 7A and Redmi Note 7 Pro were the highest shipped models in the complete market. Realme’s online sales were at 26.5 percent and its shipments were 6.7 million. This also means that number two, three and four smartphone players are closely matched in terms of shipments.

With more than 50 percent share, Apple remained the dominant player in the premium segment, which includes smartphones in the range of US$ 500 and more.

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Nokia branded smart TVs will soon be a thing

Coupled with JBL audio



Nokia TVs are on the horizon.

India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Nokia to launch Nokia-branded Smart TVs. Flipkart will not only distribute the brand’s smart TVs but is also handling the manufacturing in India.

This will mark Nokia’s entry in an extremely crowded market where new players like OnePlus have just recently arrived. Xiaomi has also been doubling down with its wider range of products and incumbents like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic continue to command a huge share of the market.

A launch timeline hasn’t been revealed yet, but we do know the TVs will sport audio by JBL. Besides Nokia, Huawei’s Honor and Motorola recently launched smart TVs in the country.

The company is known for its research and patents in the telecom industry and continues to work on it. On the side, it has licensed the Nokia brand to third parties like HMD Global for smartphones.

Nokia stopped making phones long back, its hardware division was later acquired by Microsoft, and ultimately everything ended. Though, the brand lived, and the Finnish company was far from giving up.

Flipkart was acquired by Walmart sometime back and the platform intends to leverage its online reach in tier 2 and 3 towns. Besides, all the TVs will be assembled in India under the central government’s Make in India campaign. This will help them avoid import duty on finished products as well as enjoy the direct benefits of the scheme.

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WhatsApp attack let hackers spy on users

Journalists and activists were specifically targeted



Facebook-owned WhatsApp is one of the most widely used instant messengers and has a huge userbase in India. The app uses end-to-end encryption to protect data from snooping eyes. Unfortunately, hackers were not only able to bypass this security measure, but also separately install malware.

Before India’s General Elections, at least two dozen journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted for surveillance. WhatsApp has officially confirmed the incident and blames Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO for abusing a vulnerability.

WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, stating it “developed their malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted” on target devices. 1,400 users were compromised in total and state-of-the-art surveillance was active for at least two weeks before the flaw was detected.

WhatsApp has obviously fixed the vulnerability and directly reached out to the affected users. The lawsuit says that “Pegasus” software was used to hijack smartphones running on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry OS. It described the issue as, “A buffer overflow vulnerability in WhatsApp VOIP stack allowed remote code execution via specially crafted series of RTCP packets sent to a target phone number.”

Reports claim Pegasus is exclusively sold to governments only and has been around for at least three years. It’s extremely sophisticated and attacks are exceedingly difficult to detect.

Clearly, NSO Group has disputed WhatsApp’s claims but we won’t know the full story until the lawsuit goes to trial.

In 2018, a confidant of Jamal Khashoggi was targeted in Canada with a fake package notification. Khashoggi was later tracked down and assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

India’s IT Ministry has sought a detailed response from WhatsApp before November 4.

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