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Smartwatches are doing even worse than expected

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We already mentioned the current state of smartwatches as a big, fat miss in our recent year-ender compilation, but now, things are looking even bleaker for 2017.

Based on a report done by eMarketer, the research firm expected a smartwatch usage growth of more than 60 percent among adults in the US this year. Instead, the forecast has changed to only 24.7 percent, which is clearly a huge drop.

This translates to 39.5 million American adults using an internet-connected watch this year, as opposed to the original estimate of 63.7 million users. Making the situation worse is a penetration rate of just 21.1 percent by the year 2020 — not good at all.

Reasons for the slump are obvious, but still worth noting. There just isn’t enough reason to use a smartwatch on top of a smartphone, and while phones are improving in the cost-friendly segments, smartwatches are still maintaining exuberant prices.

eMarketer analyst Cathy Boyle had this to say:

They [consumer surveys] also reported high price-sensitivity. Without a clear use case for smartwatches — which have more features than fitness trackers, but significant overlap with smartphone functionality — the more sophisticated, expensive devices have not caught on as quickly as expected.

Ouch.

With news of the next generation of Android Wear being delayed until early 2017 — and the likes of Moto pulling out of the platform completely — we don’t see high-tech watches taking off, either. It doesn’t help that Samsung, who’s one of the leading brands in this category, relies on its own operating system, and not Android Wear.

Adding to the flames is Apple suspiciously hiding its latest sales numbers for both generations of the Apple Watch, as well as the well-loved Pebble brand being bought out by fitness tracker giant Fitbit for less than $40 million.

Still, there’s hope in hybrid smartwatches. With smart functionality in traditional watch designs, they last for months on battery power while retaining fitness tracking and handset connectivity features. We went as far as listing the Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatch in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Sources: eMarketer, Business Insider

India

Nokia 6.1 Plus is here to spice up the midrange segment

The first Nokia-branded phone to sport a notch

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2018 is undoubtedly the year of midrange phones. While we’ve seen some amazing innovation coming in this year like the in-display fingerprint scanner and moving camera module, they have been limited to the top-tier for now.

The actual innovation has been happening in the midrange segment where we’ve seen companies launch new phones every few months, and for the first time, there have been no compromises. Right from the design to the processor, everything is becoming near perfect. Thanks to initiatives like the Android One program, we are also assured that these phones will last you at least two years.

Joining the bandwagon, we now have HMD Global’s Nokia 6.1 Plus. The phone was launched a few months back in China and is also called the Nokia X6. For the global markets, HMD Global already has a streamlined product lineup that includes the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 5.1.

The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 15,999 (US$ 230). It will be exclusively available for purchase via Flipkart and Nokia Online Store starting August 30.

It has a 5.8-inch Full HD+ display and is the first Nokia-branded phone to sport a notch. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 636 SoC along with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Storage is expandable via a microSD card and it supports a hybrid SIM setup.

On the rear, the Nokia 6.1 Plus houses a 16- and 5-megapixel dual-camera arrangement that supports AI-powered portrait mode and automatic scene recognition. The front has a 16-megapixel snapper that is Face Unlock-compatible. The back of the phone also has a fingerprint scanner for authentication and 3060mAh battery that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.

Continuing HMD Global’s strategy, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is also a part of the Android One program and ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, without any bloatware.

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India

OPPO India launches the F9 Pro with a unique notch

Redefining the trend

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OPPO has been increasing its focus on the Indian market in the last few quarters and has already brought its flagship Find X to the country. In a bid to establish itself as a long-term player, the brand has also started a new sub-brand called Realme to capture the budget segment.

The company today announced the launch of the OPPO F9 Pro in India; the device will be succeeding the F7 that was launched in March. To avoid any confusion, OPPO has also launched this phone in other markets like the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam where it’s called the F9.

The design on this phone is further refined and has glass backing that creates a color gradient along with different patterns that vary according to the configuration. The notch on this phone is a lot smaller than what we’re currently seeing in the industry and is similar to a tiny “water-drop.”

This is also the first time OPPO’s F-series phone will have a rear dual-camera setup. The phone has a 16- and 2-megapixel setup that has AI-backed features like beautification and portrait mode. The front camera is a massive 25-megapixel shooter that has advanced AI-powered face enhancement and auto scene recognition features.

It’s controlled by a MediaTek Helio P60 chipset and comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Another highlight of the phone is its battery, rated at 3500mAh, which supports VOOC Flash Charge that can get you two hours of usage with just five minutes of charging.

The phone runs on ColorOS 5.2 that is OPPO’s skin based on Android 8.0 Oreo, and is available in Sunrise Red, Twilight Blue, and Starry Purple. It’s priced at INR 23,990 (US$ 345) and will be exclusively available for purchase via Flipkart.

A cheaper non-Pro F9 is available as well for INR 19,990 (US$ 285). It comes with less memory at 4GB and a lower-resolution 16-megapixel front camera.

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Gaming

God of War’s New Game Plus mode is here

It’s time for another play through, boy!

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A New Game Plus (NG+) mode for PlayStation 4’s God of War is here. This means whatever weapons, items, and armor you amassed during your first go round, you can take with you if you wish to go on another adventure with Kratos and Atreus.

The NG+ mode also lets you pick a different difficulty setting from the one you first played with. So whether you feel like taking on a tougher challenge or just breezing through the story mode, you can do so. The choice is yours.

Other new content include a new shield skin when you start a NG+ as well as new types of armor you can forge for the father and son duo. The additions also include new challenges like Realm Tears while on a time limit and a variety of new attack patterns for draugrs, witches, and other foes you’ll meet along the way.

Updates not just for God of War NG+ mode

If you’re still in the middle of your first run, don’t worry, the creators of God of War didn’t forget about us. There’s now a button that easily lets you transfer enchantments making it easier to go from one armor to another. There are also some bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements like keeping Kratos safe at all times during parry attacks and improved consistency with how enemy attacks can be parried.

If you’ve completed the game at least once, the update also lets you skip cinematic scenes whether you’re on NG+ or not.

God of War for the PS4 first came out in April 2018 and received glowing reviews from various media outlets. Many of whom even said it’s an early candidate for Game of the Year. It takes the franchise’s main character Kratos into Norse mythology years after he tore through the Greek gods.

SEE MORE: God of War: A must-play for 2018

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