India

Imported devices could get more expensive thanks to customs duty hike

iPhones to get even costlier!

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The Indian government has decided to hike customs duty on imported mobile phones from 15 to 20 percent in a move designed to protect local manufacturing. The higher tariffs take effect from April 1.

The move, which will make imported devices more expensive, follows less than two months after the country raised the import duty from 10 percent to 15 percent. The new hike comes amid the nations annual Budget Session when the coming year’s finances are declared. This move will affect Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel lineups the most. Luckily, we shouldn’t be seeing any price hike on the iPhone SE because it is assembled in India.

Apple has been trying to assemble its devices in India but has always found itself in some bureaucratic hurdle. Apple has been negotiating with the Indian government for lower tariffs on certain components, but the increased duties are still not in its favor.

The increase on import duties is designed to promote local manufacturing. The moves taken by the government to ensure local sourcing have started paying off though; multiple companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and BlackBerry have started making and assembling phones in India to avoid the high import duty and also further gain the benefits the government has to offer under the “Make in India” scheme. The fact that the phones are sourced in India is often a point of emphasis for these companies and another marketing point to the consumer.

A senior industry executive told the Economic Times that smartphone makers may decide to absorb a part of the duty increase because Apple had increased iPhone prices by an average 3.5 percent in December after the government had raised import duties by five percent.

Last year, Apple supplier Wistron started producing iPhone SE models in India.

Around 75 percent of all cellphones sold in India were assembled in the country in 2017, said Tarun Pathak, an analyst at Counterpoint Research to CNN.

India

WhatsApp could go under a government audit

1,400+ users were affected worldwide

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A few weeks ago it came to light that spyware named Pegasus had hacked more than 1,400 users worldwide via a WhatsApp vulnerability. A huge chunk of the users were from India and included prominent journalists as well as activists.

Following the revelation, the Indian government wants to conduct a security audit of WhatsApp. The government has also sent a notice to Israeli technology firm NSO Group, which had created the Pegasus spyware.

In response, WhatsApp last month sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, accusing it of helping clients break into the phones. NSO has previously denied snooping allegations and said it sells technology to governments for counter-terrorism.

The Indian Computer Emergency Team (CERT-In) “sought submission of information from WhatsApp on November 9, 2019, including a need to conduct an audit and inspection of WhatsApp’s security systems and processes,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and IT, told parliament in a statement.

WhatsApp has responded to CERT-In’s queries and patched the vulnerability. However, the government requires further clarification.

According to a report, officials close to the matter said that the government believes that if WhatsApp’s data is stored in the country, it would have helped the authorities to carry out their own investigation related to Pegasus snooping case.

The minister said the government plans to introduce the Data Protection Bill soon, and warned companies of action if they fail to provide cybersecurity to their users.

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India

Realme X2 Pro with Snapdragon 855+, 50W charging launches

The new flagship killer?

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Realme has been on a tear in 2019 and the company has no plans of stopping  after finally launching the Realme X2 Pro. It’s filled to the brim with latest features and will be going up against Xiaomi’s K20 Pro as well as the OnePlus 7T.

After its official unveiling in China and Europe last month, the Realme X2 Pro has now made its way to India. The phone has a premium design consisting of glass and metal.

On the front is a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED panel with 90Hz refresh rate and a small water-drop notch on the top. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 855+ processor along with 8GB RAM in the base variant. For authentication, an in-display fingerprint scanner has been provided along with support for face unlock.

The camera is a major highlight and the flagship phone houses a set of four sensors on the rear: a massive 64-megapixel primary lens, a 13-megapixel telephoto lens, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel portrait lens. The front water-drop notch houses a 16-megapixel camera for selfies.

The battery capacity is 4,000 mAh and it comes with support for blazing-fast 50W SuperVOOC Flash Charge. Realme claims it can completely charge the phone within 35 minutes.

On the software front, Realme is sticking with Android 9 Pie and ColorOS 6.1 but an update to Android 10 is already in the works.

Realme X2 Pro is priced at INR 29,999 (US$ 417) for the 8GB+128GB option and INR 33,999 (US$ 475) for the 12GB+256GB variant.

The company also launched Realme X2 Pro Master Edition in Red Brick and Concrete color variants with 12GB+256GB configuration costing INR 34,999 (US$ 486). The sale for the Master Edition will start during Christmas.

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India

Vivo Y19 is an affordable phone with triple rear cameras

A phone that gets everything right

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Photo by GadgetMatch

The affordable segment has seen a wide range of new phones this year thanks to a raging war between Xiaomi and Realme. While the two are constantly trying to undercut each other, brands are striving to take advantage of the situation.

Vivo has unveiled a new phone dubbed the Y19 and it’s being launched in India as well as the Philippines. The design is rather different and incorporates a 3D design that can mimic a wide range of reflective colors. The phone will be available in Magnetic Black and Spring White color options.

On the front is a 6.5-inch LCD Full HD+ display with a tiny water-drop notch on the top. Powering the phone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio P65 SoC, paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage.

In terms of optics, the triple rear camera setup of the Vivo Y19 includes a 16-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The phone also gets a 16-megapixel selfie camera at the front.

It has dual SIM support and ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS 9.2. For a better gaming experience, an Ultra Game Mode has been provided for optimization.

In India, the phone has been priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 195) and will be available for purchase via all major online as well as offline sellers.

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