India

Redmi 9 Power review: Powerbank that doubles up as a phone

Unbeatable battery

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Reviewing a mobile phone has become relatively straightforward because brands like Xiaomi are releasing a new phone every month. While the successive launch of new phones has slowed down in the last few months, I’m yet to review one of the last phones of 2020 — the Redmi 9 Power.

The Redmi 9 series continues its predecessors’ legacy and aims to provide maximum features at the most affordable price. In fact, Xiaomi’s own portfolio is often confusing for the customer. The Redmi 9 Power is a brand new offering that’s supposed to be pushed to the extreme.

The Redmi 9 Prime is priced slightly lower, so what’s different about the Power? Plenty. Let’s find out!

It has a 6.5-inch LCD with a water-drop notch

The back has a grooved design that’s very grippy

For authentication, it gets a side-mounted fingerprint scanner

So far, all the usual Xiaomi features. So, what’s new?

The phone looks like a very conventional affordable phone consisting of polycarbonate construction. However, it feels very solid in hand. There’s no flimsy plastic or poor build, and I managed to drop it quite a few times, without any visible damage. Keep in mind, the plastic body is helping reduce the phone’s overall weight.

The outside of the phone may not be very amusing, but the internals indeed are. The phone packs a 6000mAh battery that supports 18W charging, so you’re practically never going to run out of juice. The phone easily lasts two days with heavy usage, and I often ended up using it as a power bank for my headphones, smartwatch, and even secondary phone (albeit very slow).

If you travel a lot, this phone can be an ideal secondary phone. It rarely runs out of charge, and you can afford to deplete your battery in low network regions. Another useful application of the phone is for studying online. Students can attend a full day’s lecture with the display switched on without needing a charger.

The Redmi 9 Power takes a little more than two hours to completely charge the battery but provides an insane screen-on-time of more than nine hours. No wonder the phone is called Power.

Designed for entertainment

IU 😍

The phone has a 6.5-inch display that’s bright enough, produces accurate colors, and offers decent viewing angles. At this point, Xiaomi has figured out the affordable display formula, and all their budget phones have consistent results.

Although, when paired with the massive battery, this phone is perfect for non-stop entertainment. Watch as many YouTube videos as you can, or maybe even binge-watch a show on Netflix. There’s a chance the show will end, but the phone still chugs along. The phone is available in 64GB and 128GB internal storage options, which is expandable via a microSD card.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 662 chipset, which is a slightly boosted sibling of the Snapdragon 660. It incorporates a faster Adreno 610 GPU, but don’t expect a radical change in gaming experience than the Redmi 9 Prime, which an Helio G80 processor powers. The phone comes with 4GB RAM only, so it’s safe to assume that it isn’t designed for hardcore gaming.

MIUI runs smoothly on the phone and enhances the user experience to a great extent. The Android skin is conveniently customizable based on preference, and day-to-day tasks are a breeze. I tried Call of Duty: Mobile, Asphalt 9, and Sniper Fury on the phone, and all of them ran smoothly. The phone rarely heats up unless you’re pushing it to the peak with performance and charging.

A reliable set of lenses

It has a quad-camera setup that consists of a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Together, the cluster gives many options to users, and MIUI’s add-ons further extend this. In a nutshell, the pictures range from good to decent, with nothing exceptionally good or bad.

Daylight pictures are capture a lot of detail but look dull due to inaccurate color saturation. In many pictures, the highlights are blown out, further making the image look unsatisfying. The same highlights issue is also observed in low-light shots.

Indoor pictures are pretty good, but it does feel like the phone needs a lot of manual attention to click an image. Xiaomi has made phones in the past that have sported brilliant cameras for the price. The wide-angle sensor works as you’d expect it but sometimes manages to distort the edges. Thankfully, the macro and depth sensor are uniform across all Xiaomi phones.

Coming to the front, there’s a 13-megapixel shooter located in a water-drop style notch. The selfies are on point and look appealing. You can toggle on/off the beauty mode based on your requirement or even tune it. The AI-based portrait mode is pretty good actually and detects edges accurately.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a phone that never runs out of juice and keeps you away from the wall as much as possible, this phone is perfect for you. I’ve also suggested the phone to many folks who’re using a flagship phone but would love to have a secondary option at an affordable rate. The Redmi 9 Power can seamlessly complement an iPhone or a Note 10.

With a starting price of INR 11,999 (US$ 165), the phone carves a perfect balance of features that make it a must-have. The display is enjoyable, the performance is above average, an unbeatable battery, and the goodness of MIUI. If you have a slightly flexible budget, the Redmi Note 9 is also a good pick that offers a much-improved design.

Gaming

PUBG Mobile is making a comeback as Battlegrounds Mobile India

Will be exclusive to India

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Battlegrounds Mobile

After an excruciating wait, it’s official — PUBG Mobile is coming back to India. But this time, it’ll have a new name: Battlegrounds Mobile India with some added features, and an India-centric focus.

Krafton, the game’s developer, has announced it’ll be launching the Battlegrounds Mobile India soon. The game will bring an AAA-rated multiplayer experience alongside exclusive in-game events, tournaments, and leagues. While a launch date isn’t available, Krafton did confirm that pre-registration will be opened up soon.

The game will be free-to-play and incorporate the same battle royale concept that made it popular. Although, little detail is available about maps, guns, vehicles, and the plot (if there is any) of the game.

Furthermore, the game’s developer said that it would comply with all local laws and compliances. This includes data localization — storage of data within Indian borders. The announcement has cheered millions of players in the country who’ve been waiting for an alternative ever since the primary game was barred.

Why PUBG had to go

In mid-2020, India and China were involved in a fatal border skirmish that left many casualties on both sides. Following the conflict, India took a stringent anti-China stance and banned a host of apps that were developed or backed by Chinese companies. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, was among the first to come under the hammer.

PUBG Mobile was also included in the ban because Chinese giant Tencent was a distribution partner of the game. Following the ban, Krafton quickly removed Tencent from the agreement and announced plans to launch a new game independent of any Chinese influence.

Indian developers rode the hype wave, and many TikTok clones were touted as the next big thing. On the same lines, nCore Studios tried to bridge the gap by launching FAU-G, but it was a colossal failure. In fact, it still doesn’t have a battle royale mode, so it’s safe to assume Call of Duty: Mobile is the only practical alternative left for users right now.

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India

India finally approves 5G trials, sidelines Chinese vendors

Jio will also test its indigenous technology

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The Indian government has allowed India’s top three telecom operators Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone-Idea to carry out 5G trials in India for six months. The telcos are barred from utilizing equipment from Chinese vendors.

The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) said that the telcos can rely on technology providers like South Korea’s Samsung, Swedish Ericsson, and Finnish Nokia. It also said that Jio was allowed to use its indigenous technology to carry out the trials. Huawei and ZTE are the two major Chinese companies that are affected by the clause.

For now, the mid-band (3.2Ghz to 3.67Ghz) and millimeter-wave band (24.25Ghz to 28.50Ghz) are available. Additionally, telcos are allowed to use their existing spectrum. The companies have been warned that commercial utilization is prohibited. The tests are divided between urban and rural India, and the security of the network is of utmost importance.

“The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.); and to test 5G phones and devices,” the ministry said.

No to China

The exclusion of Chinese vendors isn’t surprising as the government has maintained an anti-China stance since the mid of 2020. Due to escalating border crisis, more than a hundred Chinese apps including TikTok and PUBG: Mobile were banned. Since then, state-owned telecom operator BSNL is barred from sourcing Chinese equipment in its network. Private operators have followed a similar strategy to avoid heat from the government.

5G roll-out has been delayed in the country due to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic and lack of demand for a premium market. The average revenue per user in India lowest in the world, making it difficult for companies to sustain amid decade-long tax disputes, discount wars, and expensive spectrum. However, the industry has picked up pace in the last year as the demand for wireless connectivity boomed, providing a much-needed buffer to beleaguered telcos like Vodafone-Idea.

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Health

Google will fund 250,000 vaccine doses via an international alliance

Recipients include the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and more

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Internet giant Google has announced it’ll be funding 250,000 doses of the COVAX vaccine via GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. The funding shall come through Google.org, the company’s humanitarian foundation.

GAVI is a public-private partnership that aims to improve immunization drives in developing countries. It currently consists of developing economies, donor governments, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and World Bank. Furthermore, private foundations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also a part of the alliance.

Google will also be leading an employee-giving campaign to secure more vaccine vials with the GAVI Matching Fund and Google.org matching the donation to triple the impact. The Philippines will be a prime beneficiary of the proposal, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India, and Laos.

The Mountain View-based company will also offer its technology solution to the alliance to accelerate global distribution. The announcement comes at a crucial time because India is experiencing a miserable second wave of Coronavirus. Being a top vaccine maker, the surge in local cases has prompted India to intensify inoculation of its own citizens. Many experts are worried that this could disrupt vaccine supply to other countries, in turn, extending the pandemic and its associated risks.

“Since February, we’ve been providing vaccine-related insights to help GAVI better educate communities about the COVID-19 vaccine. They’ve used that information to create educational content that reaches more than half a million people each day. We’re now committing US$ 15 million in Ad Grants to help Gavi build on these efforts and amplify their fundraising campaign,” Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google Health, in a blog post.

So far, the Philippines has provided more than 1.7 million doses, and 214,000 people are now vaccinated. While masks and social distancing are temporary measures, a vaccine is touted as the safest way to ensure a normal future devoid of lockdowns and stringent border controls.

Read Also: Google will spend $150 million to promote coronavirus vaccine education

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