OnePlus 7 Pro Launch, Flipkart’s Big Sale, Realme X and ZenFone 6 Unveiling, WhatsApp Hack, and More Tech News This Week

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OnePlus 7 Pro launch was perhaps the biggest piece of news this week, alongside its more affordable OnePlus 7 sibling, though other there were some other major headlines in the form of the Realme X’s unveiling, and the Motorola One Vision announcement. Asus launched its flagship smartphone of the year as well, the ZenFone 6, while the Google Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, and Oppo F11 went on sale for the first time in the country. Of course, Flipkart also held its Big Shopping Days Sale, which happens to be ongoing – so read on for some of the top deals on the e-commerce site.

OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7 launch

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus on Tuesday unveiled its OnePlus 7 series at three simultaneous events in Bengaluru, London, and New York. The series consists of the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) and the OnePlus 7 (First Impressions), with the former being the more premium of the two. The smartphone also went on sale in India this week, starting with pop-up stores in seven cities the day after its launch, followed by an Amazon Prime Early Access sale and OnePlus Early Birds Sale, before finally being made available to all on Thursday.

 

The OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7 share some common specifications, such as the Snapdragon 855 SoC, a 48-megapixel primary rear camera, 16-megapixel front cameras, up to 256GB of storage (not expandable via microSD card), and an improved in-display fingerprint sensor compared to the last generation.

The more premium hardware of the OnePlus 7 Pro includes its larger 6.67-inch QHD+ 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display, up to 12GB of RAM, a triple rear camera setup that offers a 16-megapixel secondary sensor with a 117-degree field of view ultra wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel camera telephoto lens capable of 3x optical zoom.

The OnePlus 7 Pro also features a larger battery, with a 4,000mAh capacity, as well as its Warp Charge 30 fast charging tech. Finally, the smartphone also features a liquid cooling system. On the other hand, the OnePlus 7 bears a 6.4-inch full-HD+ Optic AMOLED display, up to 8GB of RAM, a dual rear camera setup with a 5-megapixel secondary sensor, and a 3,700mAh battery with 20W fast charging. It also features a pop-up selfie camera, while the OnePlus 7 has the same front camera that’s nestled in waterdrop-shaped display notch.

 

As we mentioned, the OnePlus 7 Pro went on sale in India this week, and its is priced at Rs. 48,999 for its 6GB RAM/ 128GB variant (Mirror Grey only), going up to Rs. 52,999 for its 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant (Almond, Mirror Grey, Nebula Blue), and Rs. 57,999 for its 12GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant (Nebula Blue only). The Nebula Blue variant will first go on sale on May 28, while the Almond variant will go on sale in June.

Also going on sale in June is the OnePlus 7. While the company has revealed the pricing, it has not provided an exact release date. The OnePlus 7 price in India starts from Rs. 32,999 for its 6GB RAM/ 128GB variant, going up to Rs. 37,999 for its top-end 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant.

Asus ZenFone 6 launch

Taiwanese electronics giant Asus on Thursday unveiled the Asus ZenFone 6. The company’s flagship smartphone for the year, the ZenFone 6 runs on the Snapdragon 855 SoC, and features an innovative flip camera design that rotates the rear camera to the front to take selfies. The camera’s flip angle can be adjusted, and Asus says this allows the ZenFone 6 to take photos and videos from varied perspectives. The company has also placed a massive 5,000mAh battery on the smartphone, what Asus calls an advantage over the OnePlus 7 Pro – which bears a 4,000mAh battery if you recall.

The Asus ZenFone 6 price starts at at EUR 499 (roughly Rs. 39,100) for the 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant, going up to EUR 559 (roughly Rs. 43,800) for 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant, and EUR 599 (roughly Rs. 47,000) for the top-end 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant. The smartphone will be made available in Midnight Black and Twilight Silver colour variants, and for now, the company has not revealed when it will go on sale in India.

The Asus ZenFone 6 runs Android 9 Pie, with a promise to get both Android Q and Android R. It features a 6.4-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) IPS display, up to 8GB RAM, and a dual flip camera setup that comprises a 48-megapixel primary shooter and a 13-megapixel secondary ultra-wide-angle camera. Asus is also boasting of stereo speakers and a notification LED light on the ZenFone 6.

 

Realme X, Realme X Lite launch

After a lot of build-up, Oppo spin-off brand Realme on Wednesday made its big splash in China with its new flagship – the Realme X – featuring the brand’s first pop-up camera. Alongside, Realme also launched the Realme 3 Pro in China, branding it as the Realme X Lite. The flagship Realme X is priced starting CNY 1,499 (roughly Rs. 15,400) for the base 4GB/ 64GB model, going up to CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 18,500) for the 8GB + 128GB variant. The company had previously announced that the Realme X would indeed make its way to India, though we don’t have a release date just yet.

Specifications of the Realme X include Android 9 Pie with ColorOS 6.0, a 6.53-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, a dual camera setup (48-megapixel primary sensor and 5-megapixel secondary sensor), a 16-megapixel pop-up selfie camera, a 3,765mAh battery with VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge fast charging, as well as an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Flipkart Big Shopping Days Sale top offers

The Flipkart Big Shopping Days Sale started on Wednesday, May 15, and will go on until midnight on Sunday, May 19. The Flipkart sale featured deals on a variety of electronics, and some of the top deals included the Oppo K1 (4GB, 64GB) at Rs. 14,490 (MRP Rs. 18,990), Nokia 6.1 Plus at Rs. 12,999 (MRP Rs. 17,600), Nokia 5.1 Plus at Rs. 7,999 (MRP Rs. 13,199), iPhone X 64GB at Rs. 66,499 (MRP Rs. 91,900), and the Honor 9N at Rs. 8,999 (MRP Rs. 15,999).

Other deals during Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days Sale include the Apple Watch Series 4 40mm variant at Rs. 34,900 (MRP Rs. 40,900) on Flipkart, Samsung Galaxy J6 (4GB, 64GB) at Rs. 9,490 (MRP Rs. 12,900), Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (4GB, 64GB) at Rs. 7,999 (MRP Rs. 12,999), Honor 10 Lite (4GB, 64GB) at Rs. 12,999 (MRP Rs. 16,999), Mi LED TV 4A Pro 43 at Rs. 21,999 (MRP Rs. 25,999), and the Chromecast 3 at Rs. 2,999 (MRP Rs. 3,499).

The Flipkart Big Shopping Days Sale also saw the Samsung N300 soundbar at Rs. 3,999 (MRP Rs. 9,000), Microsoft Xbox One S 1TB at Rs. 18,990 (MRP Rs. 30,990), and JBL SB150/230 soundbar at Rs. 8,999 (MRP Rs. 24,990).

Motorola One Vision launch
As anticipated, the much-leaked Motorola One Vision was launched in Brazil this week. The Lenovo-owned company unveiled its latest Android One smartphone on Wednesday, priced at BRL 1,999 (roughly Rs. 35,000). It will make its way to select regions in select countries of Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Australia in the coming months.

Specifications include of the Motorola One Vision include Android Pie, a 6.3-inch full-HD+ hole-punch display, an octa-core Samsung Exynos 9609 SoC, 4GB of RAM. 128GB storage expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB), a dual rear camera setup (48-megapixel + 5-megapixel) a 25-megapixel front camera, a 3,500mAh battery with TurboPower fast charging support, and a rear fingerprint scanner.

Google Pixel 3a, Oppo F11, Realme C2 go on sale in India
This week saw three smartphones from significant brands go on sale in India for the first time. Google had earlier this month launched the Pixel 3a (Review) and Pixel 3a XL (Review) at I/O 2019. The smartphones this week went on sale for the first time in the country via Flipkart, premiering during the e-commerce site’s Big Shopping Days Sale. The Pixel 3a is priced at Rs. 39,999, while the Pixel 3a XL is priced Rs. 44,999. Launch offers include a 10 percent instant discount (up to Rs. 4,000) with HDFC Bank credit, debit, or EMI transactions, a Rs. 1,000 discount for Flipkart Plus members, an additional exchange discount of Rs. 3,000, no-cost EMI up to 6 months on all debit and credit cards, and finally a 3-month trial subscription to YouTube Music Premium.

Next up, the Oppo F11 finally went on sale in the country. To recall, the smartphone had been unveiled alongside its better-endowed sibling, the Oppo F11 Pro, back in March. It is only now going on sale, and is available via major online and offline stores in the country. A number of launch offers were listed for the first sale, including a one-time free screen replacement offer, benefits from Reliance Jio, and more.

The Realme C2, the latest entry-level smartphone from the Oppo spin-off, went on sale for the first time this week. Launched alongside the Realme 3 Pro last month, the Realme C2 is priced at Rs. 5,999 for the base 2GB/ 16GB model, going up to Rs. 7,999 for its 3GB/ 32GB mode. During the Flipkart Big Shopping Days Sale, which ends on Sunday, May 19, the Realme C2 will come with Flipkart’s Complete Mobile Protection offered at Rs. 199. 

 

Vivo Y3, Sony Xperia Ace, Micromax iOne, Itel A46, and other smartphone launches this week
Apart from the smartphones we’ve highlighted thus far, there were several other launches this week. Let’s start with a slew of Vivo launches. The Chinese smartphone maker launched the Vivo Y3 in China, featuring triple rear cameras and a 5,000mAh battery at CNY 1,498 (roughly Rs. 15,200). The Vivo V15 Pro’s 8GB RAM variant was launched in India this week at Rr. 29,990, while its 6GB RAM variant received a price cut taking it down to Rs. 26,990 from its Rs. 28,990 launch price. The company separately slashed the price of the Vivo Y95, which is now available at Rs. 13,990, down from its launch price of Rs. 16,990.

Huawei this week unveiled the Y9 Prime 2019, but didn’t detail its pricing or availability. It features triple rear cameras and a 4,000mAh battery. The Chinese telecommunications giant also launched the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, its first 5G offering and sporting its in-house Balong 5000 5G modem. It was launched in the UK, priced at GBP 999 (roughly Rs. 89,500).

Two budget smartphones were launched in India this week, with the first from Transsion Holdings’ brand Itel, The Itel A46’s highlights include a dual camera setup, a rear fingerprint sensor, and Android Pie out-of-the-box, priced at Rs. 4,999. Next up, Micromax this week also launched its iOne smartphone featuring a display notch and Android Pie out-of-the-box at Rs. 4,999.

Sony launched a new smartphone in Japan this week, the Xperia Ace. Priced at JPY 48,600 (roughly Rs. 31,000) on contract, it features a 5-inch full-HD+ Triluminos LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC, 4GB of RAM, stereo speakers, and High-Res audio support. 

Jio Prime Membership extension, Tata Sky’s new Binge streaming service, and more telecom news
This week, Reliance Jio went ahead and extended its Jio Prime membership for yet another year. To recall, subscribers had to pay Rs. 99 to get access to all Reliance Jio apps, including Jio Cinema, Jio Music, and Jio TV, and also get exclusive offers including transferable vouchers. Subscribers can check if their membership has extended by visiting the MyJio app and the My plans section.

DTH operator Tata Sky this week launched its Binge service, which is accessible through the Amazon Fire TV Stick – Tata Sky Edition that’s bundled with the Alexa Voice REmote. Initially, it is set to provide Hotstar, Sun NXT, Eros Now, and Hungama Play premium subscriptions to those who opt for the service at Rs. 249 per month. The Tata Sky VOD library will also be accessible in the service. First time subscribers will get three months of Amazon Prime subscription bundled for free.

Tata Sky this week also unveiled semi-annual packs starting from Rs. 2,007 and going up to Rs. 2,840. These packs are namely the Hindi Basic Semi-Annual Pack, Hindi Basic HD Semi-Annual Pack, Gujarati Hindi Basic Semi-Annual Pack, Gujarati Hindi Basic HD Semi-Annual Pack. Marathi Hindi Basic Semi-Annual Pack, and the Marathi Hindi Basic HD Semi-Annual Pack. Notably, the new semi-annual packs are meant for corporate connections. 

WhatsApp hack, new features, and other Facebook news this week
The Facebook-owned instant messaging service had a very eventful week, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. WhatsApp acknowledged a security flaw that allowed spyware to be installed on phones, without any user intervention. While the revelation came at the start of the week, the company fixed the security hole on Friday, May 10, and rolled out patched Android and iOS apps on Monday, May 13.

Next up, a report highlighted how WhatsApp’s spam controls were being bypassed by the use of software tools during the Indian Lok Sabha elections. The tools and WhatsApp clones apps that were being used to bypass spam controls cost as little as $14 (roughly Rs. 1,000), Reuters reported. The report also claimed that WhatsApp was misused in at least three ways – free clone apps were available online allowing political parties to manually forward messages on a mass basis, software tools allowed parties to automate delivery of messages, and finally, some firms offered services to send bulk WhatsApp messages from anonymous numbers.

WhatsApp responded to the report, warning clones apps to cease their bogus operations in India. The Facebook-owned service said it had sent cease and desist letters to companies that bypass its restrictions. It added that it improving its ability to identify and ban accounts engaged in abuse such as bulk or automated messages. WhatsApp revealed that some attackers attempt to modify WhatsApp software and trade unauthorised APK files to get around the constraints coded into the client itself.

WhatsApp this week brought 155 redesigned emojis to Android, while its much-anticipated Dark Mode is said to have been rebranded as Night Mode. WhatsApp Android beta v2.19.139 brought 155 redesigned emojis, all of which can be expected to make their way to the stable version of the Android app soon.

WABetaInfo, a watcher of WhatsApp beta updates, claimed that the same version of the app revealed the company is considering calling the Dark Mode feature Night Mode instead – screenshots of Night Mode active on Chats List, Calls, and Status pages were shared by the beta tracker, but readers should note the feature is still disabled by default. Also this week, WhatsApp in a beta version of its Android (v2.19.143) and iPhone Business (v2.19.60.5) apps removed the ability to profile photos of other users. Alongside, it brought the ability to preview stickers directly in the Notification Center for WhatsApp for iPhone v2.19.51 users.

 

In some good news for the instant messaging service, Sensor Tower – an app analytics firm – reported that WhatsApp was the most downloaded app globally in Q1 2019, with more than 223 million new installs. Four other Facebook apps made it to the top five – Facebook Messenger at second, Facebook itself at fourth, and Instagram at fifth. The third sport was occupied by TikTok, the short-form video sharing app developed by China’s ByteDance.

In other Facebook news, the social network tweaked its News Feed to prioritise posts from friends that users that want to hear from most, based on past patterns. The News Feed would also begin to highlight links that users will find most worth their time, once again based on its algorithms. Other posts will continue to be shown, but not as high up in the feed.

Facebook also restricted its Live feature, following the controversy of the New Zealand mosque shootings in March, where a shooter live streamed his video-game style massacre of scores of victims. The company said it was instituting a “one-strike” policy for the use of Facebook Live, and would temporarily restricting access for those that violated its terms. Facebook elaborated to say it would not have been possible for the New Zealand shooter to use Live on his account under the new rules.

Finally, Facebook this week brought back its ‘View as Public’ feature that allowed users to see how their profile looked from the perspective of someone they aren’t friends with. The move also helps by showing users what information about them is being publicly displayed. A new button called ‘Edit Public Details’ button will be directly available on users’ profile pages as well, for easier personalisation.

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