Xiaomi made the biggest headline this week, with the launch of the Redmi 6 series in India. The company brought three smartphones to the country, the Redmi 6, Redmi 6 Pro, and Redmi 6A. The smartphones will be made available to buy in that order as well – the Redmi 6 goes on sale on Monday, September 10, the Redmi 6 Pro will go on sale on Tuesday, September 11, while the budget Redmi 6A will go on sale the week after, on September 19. To recall, the smartphones had been launched in China back in June, and replace the popular Redmi 5 and Redmi 5A smartphones in India, that were launched in March this year and November last year, respectively.
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer specified that the prices it has announced for the entire Redmi 6 series are introductory in nature, valid for just two months, and may be revised thereafter based on the performance of the rupee vs the dollar. The Redmi 6 price in India starts at Rs. 7,999 for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB inbuilt storage variant, going up to Rs. 9,499 for the top 3GB/ 64GB model – it’s exclusive to Flipkart. The Redmi 6 Pro price in India starts at Rs. 10,999 for the 3GB/ 32GB model, going up to Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB/ 64GB model – it will be exclusive to Amazon India. Finally, the Redmi 6A price in India starts at Rs. 5,999 for the 2GB/ 16GB model, going up to Rs. 6,999 for the 2GB/ 32GB model – it too will be exclusive to Amazon India, though all three will be made available to buy via Mi.com as well.
In terms of specifications, the Redmi 6 and Redmi 6A are quite similar, bearing similar weights, the same dimensions, the same 3000mAh battery capacity, same 5.45-inch HD+ displays, and the same Blue, Gold, Rose Gold, and Black colour variants. There are differences in terms of optics however, with the Redmi 6A sporting a more modest single rear 13-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, while the Redmi 6 sports a dual 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera setup and a better 5-megapixel front camera. The former is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, while the latter is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P22 SoC.
The Redmi 6 Pro on the other hand sports a 5.84-inch full-HD+ display with a notch, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC. It sports the same camera setup as the Redmi 6, a larger 4,000mAh battery, and comes in Red, Black, Gold, and Blue colour variants. All three smartphones run MIUI 9.6 based on Android Oreo. Xiaomi at the Redmi 6 launch, and later in a tweet, announced that all three smartphones will get MIUI 10 soon, based on Android 8.1 Oreo.
This week also saw the launch of the Red colour variant of the popular Redmi Note 5 Pro smartphone in India. It features the same pricing, at Rs. 14,999 for the 4GB RAM model, and Rs. 16,999 for the 6GB RAM model.
Jio this week in celebration of its two-year anniversary announced a new offer for its subscribers — they would get 2GB of free data additionally daily from September 7 to September 11 — offering up to 10GB of free data in total. The Jio Celebrations Pack can be availed via the My Plans section of the MyJio app. Jio also unveiled a new offer in collaboration with Cadbury, offering 1GB of free data to users that scan the barcode of a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, ranging from Rs. 5 to Rs. 100.
Vivo also made headlines this week, with the launch of a new in-display fingerprint sensor smartphone in the country, the Vivo V11 Pro, which is its most affordable such offering in the country. Priced at Rs. 25,990, it will go on sale from September 12 in the country, via online and offline stores in the country, with pre-orders already open. Several launch offers were also detailed.
The Vivo V11 Pro runs FunTouch OS 4.5 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo, and sports a 6.41-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display with a waterdrop display notch and a screen-to-body ratio of 91.27 percent. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, coupled with 6GB of RAM. It features dual rear cameras with a 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel setup, apart from a 25-megapixel front camera. It comes with 64GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB). It runs on a 3,400mAh battery with support for Dual-Engine fast charging (18W).
The Chinese smartphone maker Vivo also made headlines this week with the launch of the Vivo V11 and Vivo V11i in Thailand, as well as the launch of the Vivo X23. Like the Vivo V11 Pro, both smartphones come with a ‘waterdrop’ display notch as well as an in-display fingerprint sensor. The Vivo V11 price was set at THB 9,999 (roughly Rs. 21,800) in Thailand, with the Vivo V11i priced at THB 13,999 (roughly Rs. 30,600). In terms of specifications, the V11 is identical to the V11 Pro in India, except it comes with 128GB of inbuilt storage. On the other hand, the V11i is a more basic version of the handset, and is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60 SoC in comparison, while bearing a smaller 6.3-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display, and just 4GB of RAM. Its dual rear camera setup features a16-megapixel sensor and a 5-megapixel sensor, with a similar 25-megapixel camera up front. Coming with 128GB of inbuilt storage, it runs on a 3,315mAh battery along with 18W quick-charging support. Both handsets run FunTouch OS 4.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo.
Coming to the Vivo X23, the smartphone is a premium mid-range smartphone from the company, featuring a 6.41-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 67- SoC, 8GB of RAM, an in-display fingerprint sensor, a dual rear camera setup with a 12-megapixel primary sensor and 13-megapixel secondary sensor, apart from a 12-megapixel front camera. Like the V11 and V11 Pro, it too runs on a 3,400mAh battery, with 22.5W fast charging. The Vivo X23 price was set at CNY 3,498 (roughly Rs. 36,700).
Huawei-brand Honor was not silent this week either, and launched a new budget smartphone in the country – the Honor 7S. The smartphone’s highlights include its 18:9 display and selfie flash module. It will go on sale for the first time this week – on September 14, exclusively via Flipkart as well as the company’s own HiHonorStore.
The Honor 7S price in India has been set at Rs. 6,999. The smartphone runs EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and features a 5.45-inch HD+ display, a quad-core MediaTek MT6739 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of inbuilt storage, a single 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front camera with soft flash, face unlock capabilities, and a 3,020mAh battery.
The Honor brand had some more revelations this week, and launched the Honor 8X and Honor 8X Max in China. Both smartphones feature different display notch designs and different aspect ratios, apart from glass-finish rear panels and dual rear camera setups, as well as Dolby Atmos audio support. Apart from the hitherto described similarities, the two smartphones otherwise differ significantly in terms of specifications. The Honor 8X price starts at CNY 1,399 (roughly Rs. 14,700) for its 4GB RAM/ 64GB inbuilt storage variant, going to CNY 1,599 (roughly Rs. 16,800) for its 6GB/ 64GB variant, and CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 20,000) for its 6GB/ 128GB variant. The Honor 8X Max price starts at CNY 1,499 (roughly Rs. 15,700) for its 64GB storage variant, going up to CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 19,000) for its 128GB storage variant.
In other news this week, Lenovo brand Motorola revealed the launch date of the the Moto G6 Plus in India, and it’s Monday, September 10. To recall, the Moto G6 Plus was unveiled first in Brazil this year, back in April, alongside the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play, both of which have already made their way into the country. The highlights of the Moto G6 Plus are its 18:9 display, dual rear cameras, Snapdragon 630 SoC, 4GB of RAM, face unlock, and TurboPower fast charging. It was launched at a suggested retail price of EUR 299 (roughly Rs. 24,400), and can be expected to be available at a slightly lower price in India.
In other Motorola news – the company this week also launched the Motorola P30 Note in China. The smartphone appears to be nearly identical to the Motorola One Power that was launched late last month at IFA 2018, except the Motorola P30 Note also features a 6GB RAM variant in addition. Motorola P30 Note price has been set at CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 20,700) for the 4GB RAM variant and CNY 2,299 (roughly Rs. 23,800) for the 6GB RAM variant.
The company finally also announced the rollout of the Android 8.1 Oreo update for the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus – smartphones that were launched with Android 7.0 Nougat in April and March, respectively, last year.
Speaking of updates, Taiwanese electronics giant Asus this week announced the rollout of a firmware update for the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1, its popular budget smartphone in the country. The update brings with it improvements to the smartphone’s selfie camera, as well as its fingerprint sensor. Users should expect the rollout to progress in phases.
Another manufacturer with a major update this week was OnePlus, which released an Android 9.0 Pie build as the OxygenOS Open Beta 1 for OnePlus 6 users. To recall, the OnePlus 6 was amongst the smartphones that were part of Google’s Android P Beta programme, and thus a relatively early rollout of the latest version of Android doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.
The Realme 2 went on sale for the first time in India this week, following its launch late last month. The Realme 2 price in India starts at Rs. 8,990 for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB inbuilt storage variant, with its 4GB/ 64GB variant priced at Rs. Rs. 10,990. The smartphone is exclusively available via Flipkart. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, and features a fingerprint sensor unlike the first model by the company – the Realme 1.
The Xiaomi Poco F1 Armoured Edition went on sale for the first time in India this week, while the smartphone also received an update that brought with it camera optimisations, improvements in image processing, and fixes for system issues. The company also decided to reduce the waiting period for bootloader unlocking down to 3 days from its original 2-month waiting period.
Next up, Samsung once again announced that its long-anticipated foldable smartphone was indeed coming this year, and may be launched as soon as November at the Samsung Developer Conference that will be held in San Francisco. Samsung’s mobile chief, DJ Koh, made the revelation in an interview with CNBC. To recall, the company had included a smartphone in its 2018 roadmap earlier this year.
Now let us get to the major leaks and teasers of this week. With the 2018 iPhone launch event scheduled for next week – September 12 – this would be an opportune time to discuss what the latest leaks have to say. While early last month we heard the 5.8-inch OLED variant will be called the iPhone Xs, this week, we hear the top-end 6.5-inch model won’t be called the iPhone Xs Plus, but iPhone Xs Max instead. The week also saw the prices of all three models – including the cheaper 6.1-inch LCD iPhone 9 – being leaked. A concept video of the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and their rumoured new Gold finish variant also its way to the Internet.
Google announced that it would be holding an event in New York on October 9, and going by past years as well as the current batch of rumours, the company is anticipated to launch the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones at the event. The event is expected to also see the launch of the first Pixel-branded smartwatch.
Another major leak from this week was the Motorola P30 Play, which allegedly was briefly listed on the company’s China site. The listed tipped Motorola P30 Play price to be CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 20,000) for its lone 4GB RAM/ 64GB inbuilt storage variant, while it would run Lenovo’s ZUI 4.0, sport a 5.88-inch HD+ display, a Snapdragon 625 SoC, a dual rear camera setup, an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 3,000mAh battery.
HMD Global this week teased the launch of a new Nokia smartphone in Taiwan, and it is expected to be the Nokia X7 – which may launch in global markets as the Nokia 7.1 Plus. To recall, a smartphone codenamed Phoenix with a Snapdragon 710 SoC was rumoured to launch in this Autumn/ Winter, and this may be it. It may be the company is launching the Nokia 5.1 Plus in the country.
Another set of Nokia brand leaks this week surrounded the much leaked Nokia 9 flagship, from the initial report around a crazy five-lens camera setup soon translating into a live image and then a concept render.
Separately, Xiaomi teased that its Mi Mix 3 – which was first confirmed to sport a camera slider and launch in October at the end of August – was this week teased to sport to sport 5G connectivity. At this point though, it’s unknown whether this connectivity would be supported at launch or enabled at some point in the future.
Uber this week announced that its ‘Elevate’ air taxi concept would reduce travel time in a city like Mumbai by up to 90 percent. To recall, late last month, Uber had said that India was one of five shortlisted countries that would host the third city in the world, after Dallas and Los Angeles in the US. The other four countries were Australia, Brazil, France, and Japan. Uber this week separately also announced new safety features for both riders and drivers, apart from revealing it was on track for an IPO in 2019 and that it had no plans to sell its self-driving tech division.
Lenovo this week unveiled its new entry-level ThinkPad laptop in India – the Lenovo ThinkPad E480, which has been priced starting Rs. 32,999 in the country. The business laptop has a military-grade build, sports a 14-inch full-HD display, up to eighth generation Intel Core i7 processors, up to 32GB of RAM, and dedicated graphics to offer users.
Canon unveiled its latest full-frame mirrorless camera this week – the EOS R – with a 30.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, an ISO range of 100-40,000, 8fps continuous shooting, and 4K video recording up to 30fps. It has been priced at $2,299 (roughly Rs. 1,57,700) for the body only, with a kit announced at $3,399 (roughly Rs. 2,33,300) including a RF 24-105mm F4 L USM lens.
Finally, WhatsApp this week released an update for iPhone users that brought several new features – including a notification extension feature (a way to view images directly in the notification pane), a search option for the Status tab, as well as the addition of the Suspicious Link Indicator that rolled out to Android beta users in July. The company this week also started its second phase of radio ad campaigns in the country to prevent the spread of misinformation.
Are Redmi 6A and Redmi 6 the best budget smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.