India

Realme 2 Pro is an upgrade we’ve long been waiting for

Power-packed to the brim

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After launching the Realme 2 last month, the company is back with another phone and this time it’s actually an upgrade. The Realme brand was established a few months back as a sub-brand of OPPO but has since then spun around and now acts as an independent phone maker.

With the Realme 2 Pro, the company intends to take on Xiaomi’s Mi A2 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus. The brand has been known for its focus on providing maximum value and targets the youth of the country as its core user base.


Three versions of the phone was unveiled and priced as follow: INR 13,990 (US$ 192) for the 4GB RAM variant with 64GB of storage, INR 15,990 (US$ 220) for the 6GB variant also with the same storage space, and INR 17,999 (US$ 250) for the 8GB variant, this time with 128GB of storage. They will all be available exclusively via Flipkart. While the competing phones from Xiaomi and Nokia are part of the Android One program, Realme intends to differentiate itself in its own skin.

Coming to the specifications, the phone has a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display that comes with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. The addition of a notch has let the brand achieve a higher screen-to-body ratio compared to the Realme 2.

Because the phone is powered by a Snapdragon 660 SoC, the Realme 2 is being targeted towards the performance-hungry audience in the midrange segment.

Coming to the camera, it has a dual rear camera setup that consists of a 16-megapixel sensor with a f/1.7 aperture and a secondary 2-megapixel depth sensor with f/2.0 aperture. The front has a 16-megapixel sensor that supports AI-powered beauty mode and smart HDR. The phone can click portrait pictures with a bokeh effect along with automatic scene recognition.

The phone is powered by a 3500mAh battery that charges via a micro-USB port. It ships with Android 8.0 Oreo along with a customized ColorOS skin on top.

India

Vivo V17 Pro with dual pop-up camera launches

It has a total of six cameras

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While Xiaomi and Realme are trying to outbid each other by offering higher resolution cameras, Vivo is busy adding as many sensors as possible. The brand was the first to incorporate a pop-up camera mechanism and is now leveraging the technology in all its products.

The phone will be going up against the OnePlus 7 and instead of focusing on performance, Vivo is eyeing an ideal all-rounder. The phone has been launched in India today and shall be landing in more markets soon.


It sports a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a screen-to-body ratio of 91.65 percent. The display is surrounded by a 2.5D curved glass and Schott Xensation UP protection. The rear has Gorilla Glass, but it’s always recommended to slap a case on it.

The V17 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 675 SoC, paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It runs on Funtouch OS 9.1, that’s based on Android 9 Pie.

On the rear is a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 13-megapixel telephoto sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The setup is capable 2x optical zoom and 10x hybrid zoom.

The front gets a dual-camera pop-up selfie module that houses a 32-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens. The front camera also supports Super Night Selfie mode for low-light photography. For authentication, an in-display fingerprint scanner has been added along with face unlock.

Backing these internals is a 4100mAh battery that supports 18W Dual-Engine fast charging. Vivo has also added a headphone jack, but the charging is still dependent on a microUSB port.

It’s priced at INR 29,990 for the sole 8GB+128GB offering and will go on sale from September 27 via Vivo eshop, Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm Mall, and Tata CliQ. Color options include Midnight Ocean and Glacier Ice.

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Google wants to assists users without depending on the Internet

And Google Pay just got more exciting!

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Google is by definition an “internet” company. Every part of its business depends on connectivity, whether its Google Search or AdSense. The company has penetrated every developed market and now intends to grab the untapped markets of India and other Southeast Asian countries.

Google Assistant

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

At its Google for India 2019 event, the company announced the launch of a special helpline that users can call to have their questions answered. We usually use Google Assitant on the go via any Android phone, but it depends on internet connectivity. How do you reach out to a feature-phone user who barely has a 2G connection?


A 24×7 healpline. Teaming up with Vodafone India, users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won’t be charged for the call or the service. Early this year, Google also worked with KaiOS to integrate Google Assistant on entry-level 4G phones like the JioPhone.

Google Assistant was launched in India a couple of years back and Hindi is now the second-largest language globally. You can also switch languages by a simple voice command now.

Google Pay

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

Usually, you can use payment solutions like these in the US via NFC. Your cards are saved on the app and a gentle tap to a PoS machine will initiate the transaction. However, in India the app leverages the countries universal UPI protocol to transfer money. Up till now, you had to add your bank account in the app and scan a QR code to send money.

Google has now announced support for NFC cards. This will make the experience much simpler and streamlined. Though your phone needs to have an NFC reader and only HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered bank are supported for tokenization at the moment.

The company went on to share a few interesting stats about its position in the country. The app handled 918 million transactions a month in the country.

New AI Lab

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

A new artificial intelligence research lab is being set up in Bengaluru to create India-specific products. Google has tied up with state-run BSNL for expanding Wi-Fi hotspots in villages in Gujarat, Bihar, and Maharashtra. They’ve already deployed more than 5,000 WiFi hotspots in partnership with Indian Railways.

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India

India is banning the consumption of e-cigarettes

This includes flavored vapes

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E-cigarettes or vapes are considered to be a better alternative than actual cigarettes. Many active smokers have shifted to these electric pens and have been successful in overcoming their addiction. Countries around the world recognize the benefits of an e-cigarette, but India has a different opinion.

India has banned e-cigarettes amid growing fears over the health risks posed by vaping. The Union cabinet has made the manufacturing, import, sale, distribution, and advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognizable offense.


Justifying the ban, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “E-cigarettes were promoted as a way to get people out of their smoking habits but reports have shown that many people are not using it as a weaning mechanism but are rather addicted to it.”

E-cigarettes are the most common form of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). These are basically devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves. Instead, they vaporize a solution using a battery. This vapor is then inhaled by the user.

The government said the decision to ban e-cigarettes is aimed at protecting the youth, the section that is most vulnerable to the health hazards of e-cigarettes. Though, India isn’t the only country to have concerns.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported six deaths due to unknown lung disease in the last few weeks. Governments have long considered a plan to regulate or limit the usage.

Justifying the ban, Sitharaman cited a US report that said e-cigarette sales have risen 77 percent because of consumption by students. Storage of e-cigarettes shall now be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to INR 50,000 or both.

Obviously, following the announcement, tocks of cigarette makers ITC and Godfrey Phillips ended higher by 0.9 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. Conventional tobacco-filled cigarettes are still legal in the country but heavily taxed. The government has repeatedly tried to make them more expensive to discourage consumption, but the plan never worked.

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