India

Nokia 8.1 is here to reclaim the midrange segment

Nokia and Android One are a killer combination

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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.

India

Xiaomi needs the POCO brand now more than ever

Trying to meet everyone’s expectations

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Xiaomi is celebrating five years in India and they’ve announced a special sale across a huge selection of products. In the last five years, the brand has grabbed the number one spot in terms of market share, dethroning legacy giants like Samsung. How did a young brand like Xiaomi start from nothing and go on to lead the market?

The Chinese-brand entered India in 2014 and has always maintained a consistent track record of launching near-perfect phones that don’t cost a bomb. The Redmi brand in India slowly developed on the back of successful series like the Note. This one series helped the brand in establishing market supremacy in the budget midrange collection.


Then the brand cautiously went into the entry-level smartphone segment and started dominating that as well. Not only did the brand offer exceedingly competitive prices, but also flooded the market with options that covered every possible price point. We can safely call this a blitzkrieg-style strategy that overwhelmed the competitors as well as the users with products.

Xiaomi did try to launch a few flagship phones like the Mi 5, but they received a lukewarm response. The Redmi brand is synonymous with affordable phones in India, how do you break the threshold limit of INR 20,000 (US$ 290) and launch a flagship?

The importance of POCO

POCO (Pocophone in international markets) was the answer. A new sub-brand let them create a new ideology around the products and consumer expectations could be gauged. The POCO F1 started at just INR 19,999 (US$ 290) and boasted a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 processor. This was a deal-breaker for everyone.

A new report by the Economic Times says Xiaomi could soon kill the POCO brand. It cites a few top-level exits as contributing factors, along with the recent Redmi K20 launch. It emphasizes how Redmi and Mi are now a definite position from Xiaomi and POCO was overlapping.

This is where I tend to disagree. The Redmi K20 and K20 Pro have received a lot of backlash from consumers because they feel the phones are overpriced. A constant comparison is drawn between the K20 and Realme X. The K20 starts at INR 21,999 (US$ 319) and the K20 Pro starts at INR 27,999 (US$ 406).

Let’s get one thing straight, the phones aren’t overpriced. In fact, considering what they offer, the price is on point and continues Xiaomi’s legacy of offering competitive rates. Things went wrong on the marketing front.

Users have been expecting a POCO F1 successor soon, and Xiaomi has been teasing the K20 Pro for months. The company intended the K20 Pro to be a OnePlus 7 killer, but the buyers expected a POCO-like offering.

Considering the amount of bad press Xiaomi has received, killing off the POCO brand will only add fuel to the fire. And on the flip side, a POCO F2 launch will actually douse the fire and help Xiaomi in maintaining control over all price points. The company has raised everyone’s expectations so high, it’s finding it hard to keep up with them.

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India

OPPO K3 is a fancier looking Realme X at the same price

The design is also inspired by OPPO Reno

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Realme operates as an independent brand now, but when it first started last year, it was technically a sub-brand of OPPO. Since then, the Indian smartphone market has changed quite a lot. Realme has been successful in taking up a huge chunk of the market, Xiaomi is slowly inching forward, and Samsung is no longer sleeping.

In the midst of all the noise, OPPO and Vivo are treading cautiously. They’re focused on grabbing the offline market that relies on brick and mortar stores. Taking a step forward, OPPO has launched a new phone called the K3 in India, and it looks eerily similar to the Realme X. In fact, even the specs sheet is pretty much the same.


What sets it apart is that it shares the new design language OPPO’s Reno line first introduced, which OPPO said will serve as the catalyst for the company’s smartphone development for the next 10 years.

While OPPO and Realme are busy sharing resources, it’s the best time for a consumer to buy a new phone. There are simply too many options to choose from and pricing has never been this competitive.

To start with, the OPPO K3 sports a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display that also integrates a fingerprint scanner. The phone ships with ColorOS out of the box and relies on a Snapdragon 710 chipset to chug along.

The rear has a 16-megapixel primary camera coupled with a 2-megapixel secondary lens. The front camera is housed in a pop-up sliding module and consists of a 16-megapixel lens. The software incorporates standard AI-backed scene recognition and Ultra Clear Night View 2.0 feature. Lastly, backing these internals is a 3765mAh battery with VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology.

The 6GB+128GB option is priced at INR 16,990 (US$ 245) and the 8GB+128GB variant costs 19,990 (US$ 290). It’ll be available in Aurora Blue and Jade Black from July 23 via Amazon.in and offline retail stores.

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India

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s ambitious project to explore the Moon

Only the US, China, and Russia have achieved this so far

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