Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ launch in India

Starts shipping from 16th of March



Unlike most major smartphone launches, Samsung released its flagships for the year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, in India just a week after the global launch. The phones will start at a price of INR 57,900 (US$ 890).

To recap, both devices are powered by Samsung’s in-house chipset, the Exynos 9810, along with 4GB of memory for the Galaxy S9 and 6GB of memory for the S9+. The S9 has a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen while the S9+ sports a 6.2-inch display. In terms of looks, both the S9 and S8 series are very similar, except the fingerprint sensor has been moved underneath the camera module as many struggled with the one found on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

The highlight of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is the dual aperture setup on the primary rear camera, which is capable of shooting at f/2.4 when there’s ample light but can switch to f/1.5 when the phone detects low-light conditions. The other headline feature of the main camera is the super slow-mo mode that’s capable of recording 960 frames per second. Samsung is also introducing AR Emoji, its answer to Apple’s Animoji with a few key changes.

The duo also come with dual stereo speakers tuned by AKG. The phones even support Dolby Atmos, which offers 360-degree sound effects. Like last year’s models, the phones have an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.

This year, Samsung has placed the devices at a higher price. The Galaxy S9 comes with a starting price of INR 57,900 (US$ 890) for 64GB of storage, whereas the 256GB variant costs INR 65,900 (US$ 1,010)

The 64GB storage version of the bigger Galaxy S9+ sports a price tag of INR 64,900 (US$ 995) and the high-end 256GB variant is priced at INR 72,900 (US$ 1,120). Samsung will not be selling the 128GB models in India.

For network carriers, Samsung partnered with Indian telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Users can get up to 250Mbps of speed on 4G connections — 2.5 times more than any other device in India.


Vivo V9 goes live on official website before launch

Check out all its specs and features



Like most of you, we were expecting Vivo’s next smartphone release, the V9, to be revealed in the next two weeks — well, emphasis on expecting.

Vivo got a little excited and listed the V9 on its official Indian website. You’ll notice a lot of placeholder text where pricing and titles should be, but the renders and specs appear to be final.

This one’s the most revealing of all images:

The most prominent feature is the FullView display with a long 19:9 screen ratio and notch on top to house the earpiece and front-facing camera. It’s with this that the other function, Smart Split multitasking, can make full use of the large, nearly borderless screen.

This being a Vivo product, cameras are another important highlight. There are two rear cameras this time, consisting of 16- and 5-megapixel sensors capable of 4K video recording, while the front has an impressive 24-megapixel sensor with an AI face beauty feature to intelligently make you look good. And while there are no demos yet, there’ll be some sort of AR stickers available as well as face unlocking.

Inside, there’s a midrange Snapdragon 626 processor coupled with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage that can be expanded using a microSD card on the triple-card tray. There’s no info on battery capacity yet, but the integration of Android 8.1 Oreo will hopefully mean improved energy efficiency.

Although this info has been leaked by Vivo itself, we’ll have to wait for the official announcement happening next week before setting anything in stone. Heck, even the listed price is INR 10,000,000 which converts to US$ 154,000!

For a better look at the V9, you can watch this advertisement posted prematurely by Vivo Indonesia:

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Xiaomi launches the more affordable Redmi 5 in India

Sequel to one of India’s best-selling smartphones



Xiaomi has just announced a new smartphone in India, the Redmi 5. This phone was originally introduced in China back in December, and that very same handset is now making its way to India.

The Redmi 5 starts at INR 7,999 (US$ 123) for 2GB RAM with 16GB storage, INR 8,999 (US$ 139) for 3GB RAM with 32GB storage, and INR 10,999 (US$ 170) for 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. The smartphone will be seen competing against Honor’s recently released 9 Lite, the Moto G5s, and the Samsung Galaxy J7 Nxt. The device will be exclusively available on Amazon India, along with Xiaomi’s own online and offline stores in a weekly sale starting March 20.

Its predecessor was estimated to be the second best-selling phone in India last year, just after Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note 4. The Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro are already on sale in India, but this new device is cheaper with a less powerful chipset.

It comes with a 5.7-inch 18:9 display with a Full HD+ resolution and rounded corners. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 450 chipset and is backed by a 3300mAh battery. It runs the latest MIUI 9 on top of Android 7.1.2 Nougat.

In terms of optics, the Redmi 5 sports a 12-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.2 aperture, phase-detection autofocus, HDR, and LED flash. At the front, there is a 5-megapixel shooter with an LED selfie light, and Beautify 3.0.

Additionally, Xiaomi has added a few India-specific features like a dual-pyrolytic sheet to protect it from high temperature, a power adapter built to withstand 480 volts, and the phone also supports dual WhatsApp accounts.

As for the launch offers, Reliance Jio will be offering INR 2,200 instant cashback and 100GB of additional data in a bundled offer with the device. State Bank of India credit card holders can avail a five percent cashback upon the purchase of the smartphone. Finally, Redmi 5 buyers will be receiving a 90 percent off on Kindle ebooks.

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Google Maps get Plus Codes in India to make navigation simpler

Google Maps will also support voice navigation in six additional Indian languages



Google unveiled an open-source project that aims to make sense of the chaos of India’s hyper-growing cities: a shifting web of hidden alleys, ever-changing landmarks, and missing street signs. Called Plus Codes, it’s a location-based digital tagging system that divides the landscape into tiles and assigns a unique code to each, making navigation easier.

Google Plus Codes are based on the concept that the world can be divided into small grids, each of which gets assigned a unique code to ensure a more consistent address system. On Google Maps, Plus Codes assign six characters to a location plus the city name. According to Google, each Plus Code represents a unique geographical location.

For example, instead of typing out the long address for an office, the Plus Code can be shared with people. Typing in the code in Google Maps or even in Google Search will take you to the location. The seven-string code is unique to the location, on a global scale.

The project used to be called “Open Location Codes” which worked as an alternative to using latitude and longitude. It worked like a street address for places that don’t have a specific address. But back then, it could only be seen on the desktop application of Google Maps.

Plus Codes may be the future, but it’s still far out. Plus Codes are not replacing the traditional street addresses in India anytime soon. And for that too, Google has a solution. Using machine learning, Google will parse the addresses to find known landmarks or a familiar street name to get the user as close as possible to the destination.

Google has made the process of adding missing addresses much easier with the “Add an Address” feature wherein users can contribute to improving the Maps experience. To ensure that the addresses are accurate and not duplicated, Google will verify the added address and ensure that it “is searchable in due course.”

Google has also added support for Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam so that the users who speak these languages can use these languages for navigation.

While the Plus Codes feature has been rolled for the Android version of Google Maps, the iOS version of the app will get the feature later.

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