Samsung Galaxy Fold, the first foldable smartphone from the South Korean electronics giant, was launched in India this week. The Galaxy Fold also went up for pre-bookings in the country. Samsung also launched the Galaxy A20s budget smartphone in India, while Xiaomi began teasing the launch date and other details about the Redmi 8. Activision and Tencent Games’ Call of Duty: Mobile also released this week to take on PUBG Mobile and Fortnite, while Microsoft at its hardware event in New York released a bunch of new products including a dual screen phone and tablet. Read on for all the top news stories of the week, with a focus on India.
Samsung Galaxy Fold, Galaxy A20s India launch
The Samsung Galaxy Fold got off to a rocky start after its showing at MWC 2019. Early adopters and reviewers began noting issues ahead of its availability, prompting Samsung to keep the foldable smartphone off the shelves and get back to the design board. After months of revision and testing, the company last month re-released the Galaxy Fold smartphone, and India received it this week. Only one variant of the smartphone has been launched in the country, with a single colour variant.
Samsung has priced the 12GB RAM + 512GB storage variant of the Galaxy Fold at Rs. 1,64,999. The smartphone will be available in a Premium Cosmos Black colour option. It went up for pre-bookings on October 4, and deliveries start from October 20. Samsung is bundling the Galaxy Fold with Galaxy Buds, and users will also get the Galaxy Fold Premier Service with a dedicated helpline for 24×7 customer care. Finally, buyers also get one-year Infinity Flex Display Protection at a discounted price.
Standout features of the Samsung Galaxy Fold include the presence of two displays (one conventional display on the outside, and one foldable Infinity Flex display on the inside). It sports a triple rear camera setup, a dual front camera setup, and a single camera on its covering panel. It bears two batteries with a combined capacity of 4,380mAh. It weighs 276 grams.
This week Samsung also launched the Samsung Galaxy A20s, the successor to the Samsung Galaxy A20 that was launched in April. To recall, the smartphone had first been launched in Malaysia in September, and made its way to the country this week. It has been priced at Rs. 11,999 for its base model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage, while its 4GB RAM + 64GB storage model will be available at Rs. 13,999. Highlights include a triple rear camera setup and 4,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging support.
Redmi 8 India launch date announced
Xiaomi announced it would be launching the Redmi 8 in India next week, on October 9. To recall, the smartphone was first teased at the Redmi 8A launch event last month, at which point, a dual rear camera setup was shown off. The model has been the subject of numerous leaks in the recent past well. In the meanwhile, the first proper teasers for the Redmi 8’s arrival began to emerge this week. The latest in the budget Redmi series of smartphones, we can expect the Redmi 8 to replace the Redmi 7 in India – a model that was launched earlier this year. Xiaomi certainly seems to be speeding up its refresh cycle.
Thanks to official teasers, we know thus far that the Redmi 8 will offer a Sony primary sensor in its dual rear camera setup; such camera features as edge detection and skin tone mapping; a battery capacity greater than 4,000mAh; a waterdrop-shaped display notch; an ‘Aura Mirror Design’ on the back panel with a gradient finish, and a splash-resistant build. As we mentioned, there have been numerous leaks of the Redmi 8, including a leaked render that showcases its design including a USB Type-C port.
Meanwhile, a purported Google Play console listing of the Redmi 8 include specifications like an HD+ (720×1520 pixels) display, 3GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 439 SoC, MIUI 10.0.1.3 based on Android Pie, amd Ash, Blue, Green, and Red colour options. The smartphone has allegedly also been spotted listed on TENAA and Thailand’s NBTC websites.
Realme X2 Pro teasers
Next up, we have the Realme X2 Pro, which looks to be the Oppo spin-off brand’s first flagship smartphone with a top-end processor. The company started teasing the launch of the Realme X2 Pro this week, and has thus far not revealed a launch date. However, numerous teasers and leaks have given us an idea of what the Realme X2 Pro features.
Thus far, the Realme X2 Pro is teased to sport a 90Hz display with the option to switch to 60Hz on-the-fly. We also know it will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ SoC. Other teased details include a quad rear camera setup (with 64-megapixel primary sensor and 20x hybrid zoom); 50W fast charging capable of fully charging a 3,700mAh battery in 35 minutes flat; and finally, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res sound quality support.
Thanks to a Bluetooth SIG listing, the Realme X2 Pro is also thought to feature a 6.55-inch full-HD display, ColorOS 6.1, Bluetooth v5.0 support, dual-band Wi-Fi, and a fingerprint sensor. With teasers on both its China and European social media channels, the company is expected to launch the Realme X2 Pro in both regions. Though as we mentioned, no launch date has been shared as yet.
Call of Duty: Mobile launched, off to an explosive start
Activision’s popular first person shooter franchise, Call of Duty, is now finally on mobile. The timing of course couldn’t be better, with similar games like Tencent Games’ PUBG Mobile, Epic Games’ Fortnite, and even EA’s Apex Legends, showing just how popular the battle royale genre is. Battle royale is essentially a free-for-all last man standing game mode, where players are placed on an ever-shrinking map and attempt to eliminate each other.
Call of Duty: Mobile was made by Activision in collaboration with PUBG Mobile maker Tencent Games. It is now available for download on Android and iOS. We’ve spent some time playing Call of Duty: Mobile, and you can read our first impressions of the game where we inevitably compare it with the battle royale genre pioneer PUBG Mobile.
While the game was off to a rocky start, with servers being overloaded, the interest in the game became evident shortly. Within two days of its launch, Sensor Tower claimed the game had been downloaded 20 million times across platforms, and that it had generated over $2 million (roughly Rs. 14.16 crores) in revenue. A day later, Activision in a statement said that Call of Duty: Mobile had been downloaded 35 million times. Apart from Battle Royale, the game offers five other game modes – Free-For-All, Frontline, Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint, and Domination.
OnePlus 7T receives its first update
The OnePlus 7T was launched in India last week, and is the Chinese smartphone maker’s mid-cycle refresh of the OnePlus 7 that was unveiled earlier this year. Bringing numerous improvements over its successor, it features a 90Hz display, a triple rear camera setup, 8GB of RAM standard across storage variants, 30W fast charging, and haptic vibration support. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 37,999 for its 128GB storage variant, and Rs. 39,999 for its 256GB storage variant.
This week past, OnePlus began rolling out the first update for the OnePlus 7T, and it brings enhanced stability of camera, improved photo quality, as well as general bug fixes and improvements. As is usual with OnePlus updates, the rollout is incremental, which in the company’s words translates into a small number of people receiving the update initially before it’s distributed to larger swathes of users.
Motorola One Macro India launch teased
While leaks of the Motorola One Macro only began this week, the Lenovo-owned company has already started teasing the launch of the handset in India. Earlier this week, a smartphone by that name was spotted on a Saudi retail site, tipping numerous specifications and the smartphone’s design as well. A price tag was also mentioned – SAR 899 (roughly Rs. 16,900) – so we can expect the smartphone to be on the affordable side when it launches.
Leaked specifications of the Motorola One Macro include a 6.2-inch display, triple rear camera setup (13-megapixel + 2-megapixel + 2-megapixel), a ToF sensor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, rear fingerprint sensor, a USB Type-C port, and a waterdrop-shaped display notch. The retail listing shows a gradient finish back panel design. Soon after the retail listing, tipster Evan Blass also shared a new render of the Motorola One Macro, showing the smartphone in a purple colour option. As for launch teasers, Motorola India has begun teasing the arrival of a smartphone that can magnify – with a video hinting at macro photography chops.
Microsoft hardware event
Microsoft held an hardware event in New York City this week. To recall, the tech giant had sent invites for the launch event back in August. As expected, at the event, the Redmond-based company unveiled its new Surface lineup of tablets and laptops, but to everyone’s surprise, also showed off a dual screen phone and tablet.
Products unveiled by Microsoft included the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, the Surface Pro X, the Surface Laptop 3 in 13.5-inch and 15-inch models, the Surface Earbuds, and finally, its Android running dual-screen smartphone – the Surface Duo – and its Windows 10X running dual-screen tablet the Surface Neo.
Jio Phone festive offer
This week, Reliance Jio unveiled a Jio Phone offer for the festive season. Launched in 2017, the Jio Phone is the telecom company’s popular feature phone with 4G LTE connectivity and access to popular apps like WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook. Normally priced at Rs. 1,500, the Jio Phone will be available this festive season at just Rs. 699, Reliance Jio announced this week.
The company is calling it the Jio Phone Diwali 2019 offer, and unlike previous offers for the feature phone, it doesn’t involve exchange discounts. It began on Friday, October 4. Additionally, Reliance Jio is also offering Jio Phone users data benefits worth Rs. 700 – providing Rs. 99 extra data for the first seven recharges.
Google discloses Android zero-vulnerability
Android maker Google this week disclosed a vulnerability in Android that affects some of its own smartphones, apart from certain devices from Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and others. The security flaw is also thought to have been exploited in the wild by Israel-based NSO Group. Google says patches for the affected Pixel and Pixel 2 smartphones will be issued with the October Android security update, while it has made the patch available on the Android Common Kernel for its partners.
Affected smartphones include the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Huawei P20, Redmi 5A, Redmi Note 5, Mi A1, Oppo A3, Moto Z3, Oreo LG phones, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Samsung Galaxy S9.
The uncovered Android zero-day vulnerability requires a malicious app to be installed on the Android device for it to be exploited. The company said that “any other vectors, such as via Web browser, require chaining with an additional exploit.” It has thus been given a High severity rating.
BSNL plan revisions and other telecom news this week
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) this week was found to have revised several recharge plans with the aim to offer more data to subscribers. The company has revised its Rs. 186, Rs. 187, Rs. 153, Rs. 106, and Rs. 107 prepaid recharge plans to offer subscribers additional data benefits. Separately, BSNL this week announced that the 455-day validity extension it was offering on its Rs. 1,699 plan is now available for a longer period – until October 31.
The state-owned telco this week also announced that it is collaborating with Paytm to offer users of its public Wi-Fi hotspots a simpler way to log on. The smart Wi-FI onboarding process will be available via the Paytm app.
Vodafone this week unveiled a new Rs. 45 prepaid recharge plan that gives users full talk time with a validity of 28 days. The new plan is called ‘All Rounder’ by the company, and offers voice calls at 1 paisa per second. The plan is being offered in Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Mumbai circles, among others. Airtel this week also revised its Rs. 65 combo prepaid recharge pack with the aim to provide more talk time. It now offers twice the amount of talk time – Rs. 130 – compared to Rs. 65 earlier.
WhatsApp announcements of the week
Facebook-owned WhatsApp this week revealed that on February 1, 2020, users on iPhone models running on the ageing iOS 8 version will no longer be able to use the cross platform instant messaging app. The same deadline also applies to users of Androids phones running v2.3.7 or older.
WhatsApp was reportedly spotted testing an ephemeral messaging feature that lets users set a time period at the end of which a message will expire or disappear. Such a messaging style was first popularised by Snapchat, and has made its way to other Facebook platforms in the form of Stories. According to WhatsApp beta watcher, WABetaInfo, traces of the disappearing messages feature were spotted in the v2.19.275 beta for Android.
In a final bit of WhatsApp news, the company acknowledged a security flaw in WhatsApp that had been fixed in earlier versions of the app. The bug could allow an attacker to access a device by sending a malicious GIF file. WhatsApp said it had “no reason to believe” the bug affected any user.