India

Xiaomi launches Redmi Note 7 Pro with new design and 48MP camera

Raising the benchmarks of a budget phone

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Going by Xiaomi’s launch cycle, we expected the brand to launch the Redmi Note 7 today, but surprisingly it has also announced the global debut of Redmi Note 7 Pro in India. Xiaomi is getting even more aggressive due to rising competition from Samsung and Realme.

The Redmi Note 7 Pro brings in a much-needed design change and sports a reflective glass backing called “Aura Design.” It also brings enhanced splash protection thanks to water-resistant coating around the ports and buttons. The front comes with a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with significantly smaller bezels, a smaller water-drop notch, and 2.5D curved glass.

Under the hood is a Snapdragon 675 chipset with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The new chipset comes with improved graphics and AI capabilities.

The unique selling point of the phone is its 48-megapixel primary rear camera, assisted by a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The camera can combine four pixels into one larger pixel to produce better low-light pictures. This helps in preserving detail and avoiding grainy photos. The front has a 13-megapixel camera for selfies. The software has AI-powered portraits, scene detection, and beautification.

Backing these internals is a 4000mAh battery that supports Quick Charge technology and charges via USB-C. Lastly, it comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Obviously, the phone ships with MIUI 10 out of the box.

The 64GB option comes with 4GB RAM and is priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 195), while the 6GB RAM variant comes with 128GB storage and costs INR 16,999 (US$ 240). The phone will start shipping from March 13 in Neptune Blue, Nebula Red, and Space Black via Mi.com and Flipkart.

The Indian version of the Redmi Note 7, on other hand, sports an identical display. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 660 processor along with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage in the top variant. Xiaomi says it isn’t underclocking the processor and the user can experience significantly better performance than competing phones.

It gets a 12- and 2-megapixel setup on the rear and the front has a 13-megapixel sensor. The camera app supports similar AI-backed features and both phones support face unlock authentication. It shares the same battery and USB-C port as the Note 7 Pro’s.

The base variant comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, costing INR 9,999 (US$ 190). The second option comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage and costs INR 11,999 (US$ 170). It’ll start shipping from March 6 in Onyx Black, Ruby Red, and Sapphire Blue via Mi.com and Flipkart.

India

Airtel starts 5G trials in India, shows off 1Gbps speed

Commercial availability still a year away, though

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India is yet to roll out 5G services, but there’s finally some good news. Airtel has kicked off its 5G trial network in Gurugram, Delhi’s neighboring city,  just a little over a month after the government gave its go-ahead to carry out trial runs.

Airtel is testing its 5G network at a speed of over 1Gbps, and the site where the trial is running is operating in the 3500MHz band. According to a report by ET Telecom, Airtel has been allotted the 5G trial spectrum in 3500 MHz, 28 GHz, and 700 MHz.

Rival telcos Jio and VIL (Vodafone-Idea) have been allotted spectrums in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz, and 26 GHz bands. State-backed telco MTNL has also received permission to start trials. The runs are being carried out in compliance with the guidelines of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Airtel is currently working with Ericson on the equipment, while other providers include Nokia, Samsung, etc. Jio has announced will be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology. The trails shall go on for six months. Chinese companies like Huawei have long been sidelined.

5G in India

The Indian government is yet to auction the 5G spectrum; hence a commercial roll-out is at least a year away. Earlier in January this year, Airtel claimed that they had become the first telco in India to demonstrate 5G services over a commercial network in Hyderabad. However, these are internal runs.

It noted that in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full-length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone, a demonstration that has underlined the company’s technology capabilities.

The plans to unveil 5G in the country took a backseat due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The industry couldn’t adopt the latest technology quickly as the market was devastated by low tariff wars, pending tax issues, and reducing capex. VIL was barely able to survive bankruptcy, but the debt continues to haunt it.

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India

Nord CE 5G goes official with Snapdragon 750G, 64MP camera

Enough to take on Xiaomi and realme?

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OnePlus has now transformed into a giant itself and aggressively expanding its Nord-branded offering. Designed for the affordable segment, the Nord CE aims to offer a premium experience while maintaining a pocket-friendly price tag.

The Nord CE follows its predecessor’s design language and the Blue Void color option screams OnePlus. It looks quite similar to the Xiaomi Mi A3 but has an elongated vertical camera array on the rear. The phone will be going up against the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, Mi 10i 5G, and realme X7.

It sports a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, Full HD+ resolution, and a punch-hole cut-out. The body is made of polycarbonate, and there’s an in-display fingerprint scanner for authentication. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 750G processor with up to 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. Unfortunately, there’s no SD card slot for memory expansion.

On the rear is a triple camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. For selfies, there is a 16-megapixel shooter located within the cut-out. Further, it comes preloaded with Nightscape, UltraShot HDR, Portrait, Panorama, Pro mode, and Smart Scene recognition. Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 30W fast charging.

The Nord CE 5G costs INR 22,999 (US$ 315) for the 6GB + 128GB option, INR 24,999 (US$ 340) for 8GB + 128GB, and INR 27,999 (US$ 382) for 8GB + 256GB. The phone goes on sale on June 16, and color options include Blue Void, Charcoal Ink, and Silver Ray. OnePlus has also listed an offer on its website where buyers will get INR 500 off on OnePlus Buds Z and INR 500 off on the OnePlus Band. The coupons will be added to the buyer’s account after product delivery.

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India

WhatsApp is suing India’s government over rules that endanger privacy

It’s serious when WhatsApp starts talking about privacy…

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It’s hard to imagine a Facebook-backed service talk about defending privacy. The company has a nasty reputation for handling users’ data, and it’s often considered a dystopian internet giant. But Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now suing the Indian government over new rules that endanger user privacy.

In February, the Indian government introduced new guidelines to regulate content on social media and streaming platforms. The new rules give greater power to monitor online activity, including encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram.

To be more precise, the government wants apps like WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message. The content of the message can remain encrypted, but the user should be traceable. The new rules supersede the existing law — the IT Act. Hence, it becomes impossible for the government to enforce traceability without a law.

And, even if the rule is modeled within the existing law, it’ll pose a massive challenge for encrypted apps. Giving up traceability potentially compromises all its users. WhatsApp says traceability of texts would force companies to collect and store billions of messages sent each day for the sole purpose of turning them over to law enforcement.

WhatsApp’s petition asks the High Court to declare that one of the new rules is a violation of privacy under the constitution of India since it requires social media sites to identify the “first originator of information” when asked for it.

The instant messaging app has over 400 million users in India. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp were given three months to comply with these rules. Although it’s suing the government, WhatsApp itself has received a lot of criticism due to its recently updated privacy policy.

“Some governments are seeking to force technology companies to find out who sent a particular message on private messaging services. This concept is called ‘traceability’,” said WhatsApp in an online statement. “WhatsApp is committed to doing all we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages, which is why we join others in opposing traceability.”

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