Weekly Wrap: Jio Plans,Nokia 3310, Vivo V5s and LG G6 Launch ,IDC report and more..

Reliance Jio prepaid and postpaid plans have been listed on the operator’s website just days after they were removed. The company has retained the tariffs of the prepaid and postpaid plans (except the Rs. 309 and Rs. 509 plans), but extended the Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan offer benefits to them, meaning more bundled data for Jio Prime users. Reliance Jio has also announced that its user base now stands at 108.9 million, and that it is holding trials for its home broadband service.

By now it should come as no surprise to anyone that rival Vodafone, to combat Reliance Jio’s ultra-low cost services, is offering postpaid customers up to 36GB data free. Vodafone postpaid users can either get 9GB of 4G data per month for three months each (meaning 27GB), or get 3GB per month for 12 months (totalling 36GB). This free data is on top of the data they get as part of their plan. Vodafone has also launched international roaming packs with unlimited calls and data for customers travelling to the US, UAE, and Singapore.

The Indian launch of Nokia 3310 (2017) seems to be getting closer, as an e-commerce site has listed the smartphone online with the “Coming Soon” tag. Keeping things interesting, the retailer mentions the Nokia 3310 price in India as Rs. 3,899, though HMD Global told  a Source there’s nothing official about the price yet. A retailer in Spain has also listed the phone online, giving May 15 as the Nokia 3310 release date, and EUR 59 (roughly Rs. 4,135) as the price.

Nokia 3310 pre-orders have also started in the UK at GBP 59,99 (approximately Rs. 5,000), with June 30 as the shipping date. Along with the feature phone, pre-orders have also started in the UK for Nokia 3 (GBP 149.99, about Rs. 12,490), Nokia 5 (GBP 189.99, around Rs. 15,820), and Nokia 6 (GBP 229.99, roughly Rs. 19,150) Android smartphones.

Talking about phone launches in India, this week saw the LG G6 and Vivo V5s India launch. Priced at Rs. 18,990, the new Vivo V5s touts the 20-megapixel ‘Moonlight Glow’ front camera as its highlight feature. Other key features of this dual-SIM Android 6.0 Marshmallow Vivo smartphone include 5.5-inch HD screen, 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 processor, 4GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear camera, 64GB internal storage, microSD support up to 256GB, 4G VoLTE support, and 3000mAh battery.

LG G6, priced in India at Rs. 51,990, is a Samsung Galaxy S8 rival featuring last year’s Snapdragon 821 processor. The Android 7.0 Nougat phone has a 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display with near bezel-less design, dual 13-megapixel rear cameras, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, USB Type-C 2.0, 3300mAh battery, dust- and water-resistant design, and MIL-STD 810G military standard certification for durability. LG G6 India launch offers available presently include Rs. 7,000 cashback on SBI and HDFC cards, 100GB free data on Reliance Jio SIM cards, and 50 percent discount on LG Tone Active+ HBS-A100 wireless headset.

With Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 as the new competition, iPhone models were on discount on the Flipkart Apple Days Sale. Buyers could get discounts up to Rs. 41,050 on the 256GB iPhone 7 Plus, the 16GB iPhone 6 had Rs. 26,010 off, and the MacBook Air could be purchased at Rs. 54,990; iPhone 5s, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, and Apple Watch were also available on discount. While the sale is over, the 32GB iPhone 7 is still available at Rs. 47,999 with exchange discount up to Rs. 20,000, and additional 5 percent off for Axis Bank credit card users.

Samsung had to release updates to fix Galaxy S8 bugs causing red-tinted screen and patchy Wi-Fi connections the past week, but problems continued for the company as Galaxy S8+ users reported issues with wireless charging. On top of that, SquareTrade – which sells gadget-repair plans – found in its tests that the smartphones are “extremely susceptible to cracking when dropped from any angle.”

The refurbished iteration of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is rumoured to be on its way, with the launch now said to be in June in South Korea. This week, Samsung also confirmed that the Galaxy Note 8 will be launched in the second half of the year, just a few short months after the refurbished Galaxy Note 7.

India, with its fast-growing Internet user base, were talked-up once again by two global giants – Amazon and Facebook-owned WhatsApp. In its earnings report, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Amazon.in is India’s most visited and fastest growing marketplace, adding that it will “keep investing in technology and infrastructure while working hard to invent on behalf of our customers and small and medium businesses in India. WhatsApp spokesperson Matt Steinfeld said the company is working on solutions to allow businesses to connect with consumers, and India will play a crucial role for the product; India is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users.

In other WhatsApp news, the app has been banned by the Jammu and Kashmir government for a month to prevent “anti-national and anti-social elements” from spreading “inflammatory messages.” Other social media platforms banned by the government order are  Facebook, Twitter, QQ, WeChat, Qzone,Tumblr, Google+, Baidu, Skype,Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, YouTube (upload), Vine, Xanga, Buzznet, and Flickr.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in the news this week for his compensation. The long-time Google executive raked in nearly $200 million in compensation in 2016, twice what he got the preceding year. Pichai’s base salary was $650,000 (roughly Rs. 4.1 crores), and the stock award to him by Google ‘ which was ranked the best place to work for in India  was $198.7 million (approximately Rs. 1,278 crores). Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s shares, stock options, and restricted stock units in the company has been revealed to be $186 million (about Rs. 1,191 crores).

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick were in the news too. Cook reportedly pulled up Kalanick, and even threatened to remove the Uber app from Apple’s App Store. The bone of contention was the app’s ability to persistently identify iPhones in a process called fingerprinting, which violates Apple’s privacy guidelines. Kalanick had reportedly directed Uber employees to camouflage the app from Apple engineers, which angered the iPhone maker. Microsoft, on the other hand, had to advise users not to manually install Windows 10 Creators Update unless they are advanced-level users who can work through some issues.

Lenovo also seems to have some trouble on its hand, with its online-only Zuk Mobile unit now rumoured to be shutting down. The Zuk Mobile unit will reportedly be shut down in the next few weeks, and the rumoured Zuk Z3 will not be launched. The brand will presumably be absorbed in the company as part of its ‘one-brand’ strategy as well.

Moto brand also owned by Lenovo – had three of its upcoming smartphones leaked. The Moto E4 is said to have a 5-inch HD screen, 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737M quad-core chipset, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, microSD support, 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, 2800mAh battery, and cost EUR 150 (roughly Rs. 10,500). The Moto E4 Plus, on the other hand, has 5.5-inch HD display, 13-megapixel rear camera, 3GB RAM option, and 5000mAh battery, and carry a price tag of Rs. EUR 190 (about Rs. 13,300). Moto Z2 Play renders have leaked online too, suggesting that the smartphone will have a new Home button design, protruding camera module on the back, and front flash; the handset is said to launch on June 8.

Market research firm IDC said Samsung (22.8 percent), Apple (14.9 percent), and Huawei (9.8 percent) are the three biggest smartphone brands in the world by shipments for Q1 2017. Chinese brands Oppo (7.4 percent) and Vivo (5.2 percent) round up the top 5. Bulk of growth in the smartphone industry is likely to come from low-cost handset makers, IDC said. Closer home, Xiaomi has been ranked India’s second biggest smartphone vendor by Counterpoint, after Samsung. Vivo, Oppo, and Lenovo (including Moto) occupied the next three spots, and the five brands together account for 70 percent of the India smartphone market.

Talking about smartphones, the past week saw the launch of Samsung Galaxy On Nxt 64GB variant in India at Rs. 16,900, and Zen Admire Metal with front flash, 4G VoLTE, Twin WhatsApp feature, and support for 22 local languages has been launched at Rs. 5,749. China-based iVoomi launched the Me 1 and Me 1+ smartphones with 4G VoLTE support and 3000mAh batteries at Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,999, respectively.

Gionee has launched the M6S Plus smartphone in China with 6GB RAM, 6020mAh battery, 6-inch full-HD screen, and Android 6.0 at CNY 3,499 (around Rs. 32,800) for the 64GB variant, and 4,299 (approximately Rs. 40,200) for the 256GB model. Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime, a budget smartphone, has been launched in the US with operator T-Mobile for $150 (roughly Rs. 9,600). It has a 5-inch HD screen, 1.4GHz Exynos 7570 chipset, 1.5GB RAM, 16GB built-in storage, and up to 128GB microSD support.


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