India

Vivo V5 with 20MP front camera launched in India

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Throughout the year, we’ve seen some extravagant attempts at smartphones that pushed selfies to the front of the conversation, ahead of everything else they have going on.

We only have to look at the Sony Xperia XA Ultra and the OPPO F1s as prime examples of how far up the ladder some manufacturers could go. 16 megapixels — that’s how far, in case you were wondering. Which is pretty damn impressive considering most phones don’t go that far with their main camera. Except they’re no longer the barometer of cool as of today.

The Vivo V5 is, and it has 20 reasons to feel confident in its role as self-appointed selfie expert. 20 megapixels is the big talking point, and it’s the highest megapixel count ever for a selfie camera. Apart from a record-smashing Sony sensor, Vivo has thrown in an f/2.0 aperture lens and a front-facing flash for taking cleaner snaps in low light, plus a few shooting options for vanity purposes. The back features a ho-hum 13-megapixel camera, but who cares about that, really?

vivo-v5-20-megapixel

Looks familiar, don’t you think?

As for the hardware itself, the V5 is curiously identical to the metal OPPO F1s and F1 Plus. It even sports a home button that resembles that of the OPPO handsets to the last detail; it likewise hides a fingerprint sensor underneath the button. (You can take a guess as to why that is, and knowing Vivo and OPPO belong to the same parent company should help.)

The V5 runs a heavily customized version of Android Marshmallow. It totes 720p LCD display measuring 5.5 inches and an octa-core processor (likely from MediaTek) with a meaty 4GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. Battery capacity maxes out at 3,000mAh. A special audio chip is also built into the assembly for getting the most out of high-end audio files.

The Vivo V5 will go on sale on November 26 in India for 17,980 rupees. It comes in either gold or gray. Wider availability is expected very soon, with the V5 slated to debut in the Philippines on November 23rd.

Enterprise

Microsoft now supports email addresses in 15 Indian languages

More than a billion people in India do not speak English

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Microsoft has announced support for email addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online, and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

The initiative by Microsoft comes on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on February 21 every year. The company is also making efforts to support Email Address Internationalization (EAI), which makes technology accessible in local languages.

The 15 Indian languages supported for email addresses include Hindi, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Manipuri, Nepali, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. These languages are a part of the IN Registry that keeps a record of languages in which IDNs can be stored.

An Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is an Internet domain name that contains a language-specific script or alphabet — such as Devanagari, Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Tamil, Hebrew, or Latin Alphabets. They also support Unicode, an international standard that encodes languages and scripts so that it’s accessible on practically any modern computer out there.

Speaking on the addition of support for these languages, Microsoft India COO Meetul Patel said that the move represents a step forward in eliminating language as a barrier to the adoption of technology and communication tools. “Currently, Indian languages are under-represented online. Of the 447 different languages spoken in India, none make it to the list of top 50 digital languages,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

Starting with Project Basha in 1998, Microsoft has been working to provide local language computing in Indian languages. Microsoft currently supports 22 constitutionally recognized Indian languages — including 11 Indian language scripts for Office and Windows.

As a member of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, the company says it will continue to extend support to languages and scripts, including right-to-left languages like Urdu and Arabic.

Google, too, had a launch on International Mother Language Day, and introduced Tamil language support for its advertising products Google AdWords and Google AdSense.

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Enterprise

Philippines improves 4G LTE availability but falls short at rankings

Still one of the slowest in the world

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It’s no surprise that internet in Southeast Asia hasn’t caught up with 2018 standards. Based on several OpenSignal reports throughout the years, the region still rattles out poor ratings in 4G availability and speed.

Sadly, the most recent report shows more of the same. Though improving in reliability, internet in the region is still the slowest in the world.

The data was collected from over 4.8 million devices and almost 59 billion measurements throughout October to December last year.

The latest findings, which show definite improvements over last year’s results, offers eye-opening insights about the current state of 4G internet and its uncertain future.

South Korea still on top, but stumbles in speed

 

As with previous years, it’s no surprise that Singapore and South Korea dominate the boards once again. The world’s prime destination for eSports tops 4G availability; internet users in South Korea enjoy 4G connections for 97.49 percent of the time — a huge feat when around half of the recorded nations struggle to move past the 75 percent mark. Unfortunately, the country falls off a bit in terms of speed. Whereas the previous report clocked speeds of 43.46Mbps, this report measures a lower but still speedy 40.44Mbps.

On the other hand, Singapore tops the rankings for speed again with 44.31Mbps. Also, the country slightly improved their reliability at 84.43 percent.

The Philippines improves, but still a lower-tier country

Learning from their years-long stint at the bottom of the rankings, the Philippines finally improves their rankings with a marked upgrade on reliability. From a paltry 52.77 percent last year, the archipelagic nation now enjoys 63.73 percent 4G availability. As a result, the Philippines is no longer in the bottom 10 nations of the world, but is still the third lowest in Asia.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the country’s speed. Despite an upgrade (from 8.59Mbps to 9.49Mbps), the Philippines is the fourth slowest country in the world (and third slowest in Asia). This year’s ranking is also slightly worse than last year’s list where the country placed as only the fifth slowest.

India barely moves up

Despite a brilliant showing in 4G availability, India still holds the unfortunate title of “slowest 4G internet in the world.” Indian internet speeds average only 6.07Mbps. The sub-par speeds slightly improved from last year’s showing, which only clocked in 5.14Mbps. This may be attributed to India’s status as one of the most populous nations in the world. On the bright side, the South Asian country marginally improved its reach — 86.26 percent from 81.56 percent last year.

4G internet speeds are plateauing

4G technology started in 2010. Since then, countries continue to edge closer but miss the vaunted 50Mbps mark. As of 2018, it’s safe to assume that everyone’s hitting the hay in the hunt for speed. Most, if not all, upgrades in speed this year were marginal at best. With the apparent plateau, the world focused on providing more reliable 4G internet across the globe. Countries fared better in improving their 4G reliability.

Too little, too late?

5G is just on the horizon. Tech companies are already pushing for 5G-compatible devices; 5G will soon obliterate the 4G speed plateau. With a more efficient solution coming, we should ask whether the race for the best 4G service shows an alarming trend.

Before we know it, the race to the best 5G network will kick off. Developed countries already have a leg up. Unfortunately, those who trailed in the 4G race will fall behind even further as 5G passes them by. Even if 5G will be easy to implement, the lack of reliable 4G in developing countries will only widen the gap between 5G-ready and 4G-ready countries.

SEE ALSO: Philippines still ranks near bottom for 4G LTE speeds and availability

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India

OnePlus wants India to be its manufacturing hub

Local sourcing will enable OnePlus to cut down on costs and import taxes

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OnePlus is reportedly working towards establishing its manufacturing in India. According to a report from Economic Times, the company is in talks with domestic equipment manufacturers to source components of its upcoming devices. This move is to reduce the import costs and duties, which may later lead to phones from OnePlus getting cheaper in the future.

OnePlus India General Manager Vikas Agarwal revealed the firm is presently in the process of negotiating supply deals with local manufacturers as part of its efforts to become more involved in the “Make in India” initiative promoted by India’s Central Government as a way to encourage consumer electronics firms to invest more resources in the South Asian country.

The Chinese original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is already assembling its smartphones in India to avoid heavy duty fees on its products, but sourcing the majority of their components from local factories would allow the company to additionally lower its costs and improve its profit margins.

OnePlus smartphones sold in India are presently being assembled by the same Noida-based vendor that assembles OPPO devices. Samsung has been assembling a wide range of its mobile portfolio in India for years.

Only Samsung has been able to leverage the Make in India strategy, as its premium smartphones are also produced locally. Agarwal believes that most brands operating in India do not have the sales volume to justify local assembly.

A recent IDC report highlighted that OnePlus is one of the top-five smartphone brands in India. Interestingly, in the premium smartphone brand category, OnePlus surpasses even Samsung, and is second only to leader Apple.

During the Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that customs duty on mobile phone parts will be hiked to 20 percent. The move will not only make devices expensive for the end-consumer, but also make it difficult for brands to sustain in the competitive market.

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