India

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.

India

Realme skyrockets in India mobile market as Samsung falls

Xiaomi continues to hold its spot

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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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India

Nokia branded smart TVs will soon be a thing

Coupled with JBL audio

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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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Apps

WhatsApp attack let hackers spy on users

Journalists and activists were specifically targeted

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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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