India

Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus, and Nokia 6 (2018) launch in India

Pricing and availability here

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HMD Global, which now owns the rights to manufacture and distribute Nokia-branded smartphones, is pushing to make the legendary phone brand relevant again.

Its device lineup in India has just been updated with the launch of Nokia 6 (2018), Nokia 7 Plus, and Nokia 8 Sirocco. All three smartphones were first announced at MWC 2018 in Barcelona last February, along with the 8110 4G and Nokia 1. The Nokia 1 was launched in India just last week and now, we can also finally get our hands on Nokia’s flagships.

Out of the three, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is the flagship device — it’s been pitched as a rival to Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The phone features a dual-glass design that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and it comes with a stainless steel frame. It’s certified IP67 for water and dust resistance and features a 5.5-inch QHD P-OLED display. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It comes with 12- and 13-megapixel dual-rear cameras that have wide-angle and telephoto lenses, respectively. The device is backed by a 3260mAh battery and runs on Android One. It will retail for INR 49,999 (US$ 770) from Flipkart.com and the Nokia Online Store. Pre-bookings start from the 20th of April and the device starts shipping on the 30th of April.

The new Nokia 7 Plus features a 6-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 18:9, and comes in an aluminum unibody. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, paired with 4GB of RAM. It includes an internal storage capacity of 64GB which can be further expanded up to 256GB via microSD card. The handset comes equipped with a dual-camera setup: A 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.75 aperture along with a 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.6 aperture. It also includes a 16-megapixel front-facing camera along with an f/2.0 aperture. The Nokia 7 Plus will be available on Amazon.in and the Nokia Online Store for INR 25,999 (US$ 400). Pre-bookings start on the April 20 and the device will start shipping on the April 30.

The company also announced the global variant of the Nokia 6 (2018), which until now, has been exclusive to China. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC with 3GB RAM and sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display. It sports a 16-megapixel rear camera and comes with an 8-megapixel sensor at the front. It is powered by a 3000mAh battery and supports wireless charging. The device will be available on sale from offline channels as well as the Nokia Online Store for INR 16,999 (US$ 261).

SEE ALSO: Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 8 Sirocco Hands-On

India

Vivo V15 Pro is a midrange phone trying to redefine mobile photography

Can it actually replace a DSLR?

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Vivo launched a lot of phones last year, each having a unique feature like a pop-up camera or in-display fingerprint scanner. While the industry usually tried to avoid moving parts in a phone, Vivo turned it around into a feature. With the V15 Pro, the brand wants to establish supremacy in the midrange segment by offering flagship innovation at a competitive price.

The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 28,990 or roughly US$ 410. It is available via all major retailers and online sellers starting today.

On the front, the V15 Pro has a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Thanks to the elimination of a notch, it has a 91.6 percent screen-to-body ratio and smaller bezels. The front camera is located in an elevating module that pops up automatically when required.

The rear gets a gradient design and a massive triple camera array. The array includes a 48-megapixel primary lens, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The primary sensor can capture an insane amount of detail and to improve performance further, four pixels can be merged into one, creating a 12-megapixel high-quality picture.

The elevating module houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Vivo has added a ton of new filters in the camera app and modes like AI Beauty, AI Portrait, and AI Super Night to ensure better output. For authentication, the phone uses a combination of face unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 675 processor coupled with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 3700mAh battery which supports Dual Engine fast charging. The V15 Pro also has a dedicated button to summon smart assistants like Google Assistant and Vivo’s Jovi.

Lastly, the phone ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS and includes new features like Game Mode 5.0.

SEE ALSO: Vivo now has its own smartphone sub-brand named iQOO

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Google is under investigation for abusing Android

Dominating the market comes with a price

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Google has often been accused of monopolizing the smartphone market with the use of Android. While Android as an operating system is open source and anyone is free to make or use the system however they wish, Google’s push of its apps is a bigger problem.

Android is maintained by the search engine giant and the code is available for everyone’s use. But, Google pushes its range of apps in stock Android like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and more. Many accuse the company of forcing itself upon users and blocking the competition from a fair chance.

India’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing Google’s case for the last six months. The enforcement agency is currently at a preliminary stage and no official release has been made. Google, as well as CCI, have declined to comment.

The European Commission found Google guilty of dominating the market since 2011 and it’s abusing its standard practice of installing Google apps. The investigation led to a US$ 5 billion fine from the antitrust agency.

Google and CCI have met in recent months and the complaint was filled by a “group of individuals.” The agency has a track record of taking years to finish or conclude a case and we never know when a verdict might actually come.

Although, the CCI did impose a US$ 19 million fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position.

Android has a massive 85 percent market share and almost every Android phone ships with Google’s suite of apps. These apps, in return, help the search engine push ads to the user and generate revenue for the company.

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India

Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share

Can Samsung turn the tides this year?

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For more than a year, Xiaomi has been leading the Indian smartphone market in terms of market share and there’s no stopping them. The brand has single-handedly managed to oust local brands like Micromax, and even experienced players like Samsung have taken a hit.

According to IDC, in Q4 2018, Xiaomi managed to grab an astounding 28.9 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 18.7 percent. While Vivo and OPPO have managed to grab a decent 9.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, their rate of growth has slowed down considerably.

If we consider the complete year of 2018 against 2017, Vivo has managed to grow just 0.6 percent year-over-year and OPPO actually dipped by 0.3 percent. The report also says that online-focused brands drove the online channel share to an all-time high of 38.4 percent. On the other hand, offline sales registered a meager 6.7 percent growth.

During the last quarter of 2018, Realme managed to grab quite a huge chunk of the market with a share of 7.5 percent. The sub-brand of OPPO was launched just half a year back and has already released a wide array of phones.

The average selling price of phones continued to be in the budget segment at roughly US$ 158 (INR 11,000). More than half of the shipments belong in the US$ 100 to US$ 200 segment, and that’s where brands intend to lead.

In the end, Xiaomi shipped more than 40 million units in 2018, followed by Samsung with almost 32 million. Samsung had been relatively silent last year, but has now changed strategy with the M-series launch. The South Korean giant is focused on taking back the budget and midrange segments by reportedly launching a plethora of phones in the coming months.

Lastly, OnePlus has once again emerged as the leader in the premium segment, followed by Samsung and Apple in the super-premium segment.

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