Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone's Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week


  • New products at CES 2017 dominated the news this week
  • Nokia 6 launch on Sunday stole CES’ thunder a little bit
  • Vodafone now has a Rs. 499 unlimited calling postpaid plan

Predictably, CES 2017 dominated tech news this week with a range of exciting launches and demos, but just as we were putting the finishing touches to this piece, another launch grabbed the headlines. HMD Global, the new custodians of the Nokia brand, announced the launch of Nokia 6, a phone that runs Android 7.0 out of the box.

The Nokia 6 has a 5.5-inch full-HD display wrapped in 2.5D Gorilla Glass. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The Nokia 6 is a dual SIM smartphone that is backed by a 3000mAh non-removable battery. See full specifications of the Nokia 6, which will unfortunately be a China-exclusive smartphone. HMD Global confirmed more Nokia Android phones are coming soon.

Before we get to all the CES launches from this week, let’s take a look at some important stories from closer home. Vodafone is taking the battle to Reliance Jio and Airtel with the launch of a new postpaid plan that offers unlimited calling, and 3GB of 4G data each month. The revamped Vodafone Red postpaid plans come soon after Airtel started offering 3GB of free mobile data per month to prepaid and postpaid customers switching to its 4G network.

Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone's Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week

Friday saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy J1 (4G) in India – the same phone was launched in Russia in March last year, after quietly making its way to Dubai in January. In both those markets, it was sold as the Samsung Galaxy J1 (2016). This is an entry level phone from Samsung, priced at Rs. 6,890.

From CES, one of the highlights was the launch of the Asus ZenFone AR, the first smartphone with 8GB of RAM. It also come with support for Google’s Tango augmented reality programme and DayDream virtual reality software. Asus ZenFone AR, like the other Tango device – the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro – is designed around machine vision with a camera and sensor setup that provides motion tracking, depth perception, and area learning.

In addition to the ZenFone AR, Also also unveiled the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom camera smartphone with 5000mAh battery at the event. The phone has dual rear cameras and offers 2.3x optical zoom.

Samsung used CES to showcase the new A (2017) smartphones launched earlier this week. The Galaxy A3 (2017), Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy A7 (2017) sport “enhanced” cameras compared to their predecessors, optimised for low-light conditions.

Later, pricing of the two of the new Samsung phones came to light as well.

LG also unveiled its K-series phones on the CES floor – the range covers the LG K3 (2017), LG K4 (2017), LG K8 (2017), and the LG K10 (2017).

LG also showed the LG Stylus 3. The South Korean company says that the new 2017 variants of the LG K3, K4, K8, K10 smartphones, and the Stylus 3 will strengthen its portfolio in the mid-range segment.

At its CES 2017 event, Xiaomi unveiled the latest Mi TV 4 and Mi Router HD, apart from announcing a brand new White colour variant of the Mi MIX smartphone. All the Xiaomi CES 2017 devices will be available later this year in China. Slimmer than an iPhone 7, the Mi TV 4 is the company’s thinnest TV to date.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX was unveiled as a limited edition concept smartphone, made in collaboration with French designer Philippe Stark, in October last year, and it will go on sale later this year.

Chipmaker Qualcomm finally took the wraps off its Snapdragon 835 SoC. Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 packs an Adreno 540 GPU, and is 30 percent smaller than the Snapdragon 820. The first 10nm chip by Qualcomm comes with longer battery life and will enable thinner designs.

Nvidia launched a new version of its Shield Android TV, called just Shield, at CES 2017. It comes with Google Assistant integration and supports 4K HDR. The new Nvidia Shield will cost $199 (roughly Rs. 13,200) but the company has not announced the availability of the device yet. It will be the first Android TV with Google’s Assistant, but others will follow, and it will come to other platforms over time.

There were also a lot of laptop launches at CES – Dell launched a range of products including a Latitude 2-in-1 business laptop, XPS 13 2-in-1, as well as new Alienware and Inspiron 7000 Gaming laptops. It also launched the new XPS 15 laptop, a Rose Gold variant of the XPS 13, and the XPS 27 AIO.

Asus launched the ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA, and unveiled a new, slimmed-down business laptop, along with a VR-ready compact PC.

LG launched its new Gram 14 laptop, which it claims offers a battery life of around 24 hours. However, the benchmark test used by the company for this claim has turned out to be a 10-year old measurement tool. LG’s new Gram 14 laptop weighs around 980 grams, and is powered by Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors. It comes with up to 16GB of RAM and houses up to 512GB of SSD storage.

Toshiba expanded its Portege laptop portfolio to launch a 2-in-1 offering – Portege X20W – pricing details of the 2-in-1 have not been announced yet. The Portege X20W convertible’s main highlight is touted to be its 16-hour battery life. Meanwhile, HP unveiled the refreshed EliteBook x360, a 15.6-inch Spectre x360, alongside the new Envy Curved AIO 34, the new Sprout Pro by HP, and Omen X 35 Curved Display.

Lenovo refreshed the ThinkPad X1 line, launching a host of products under its portfolio including the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, ThinkPad X1 Yoga, ThinkPad X1 Tablet, Miix 720, Lenovo Active Pen 2, Lenovo Legion Y720 Laptop, Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop, Lenovo Smart Assistant, Lenovo Smart Assistant Harman Kardon Edition, Lenovo Smart Storage, Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, and Lenovo New Glass C200.

Asus also showed the Chromebook Flip C302 2-in-1 convertible, a high-end Chromebook. Samsung unveiled a Chromebook with stylus support, while Acer showed off a rugged Chromebook, targeted at classrooms.

Dell also launched a range of new gaming laptops in its Alienware and Inspiron lines, and Lenovo showed its range of Legion gaming laptops, and also a new VR headset, which will work with Microsoft’s Windows Holographic Program. Samsung also showcased a new gaming laptop, the Notebook Odyssey. The most jaw-dropping of the lot though was probably Razer’s Project Valerie concept laptop, which comes with three 4K displays, for “total immersion gaming”.

On the audio front, JBL launched the Pulse 3, Flip 4, Playlist, and BassPro Go speakers; Sennheiser unveiled wireless headphones and recording earbuds; Sony showed Google-Home friendly soundboards, along with new headphones and speakers; and LG announced a Dolby Atmos capable soundbar.

As usual, CES also saw a number of wearables being launched – some of the highlights were the Misfit Vapor, the Casio WSD-F20 rugged Android Wear watch, and the Motiv fitness ring, which comes with a heart rate sensor. There were a few VR related announcements for new accessories from HTC Vive, while the other products are still works in progress.

Outside of CES, we had two more launches in India this week. We saw the launch of the Xolo Era 2X – the 2GB RAM variant has been priced at Rs. 6,666 while the 3GB RAM variant has been priced at Rs. 7,499. It replaces the Xolo Era 1X, which launched with a price tag of Rs. 4,999 last year. Other than this, we had the launch of the Sennheiser HD 200 PRO closed-backover-ear headphones in India, priced at Rs. 6,490.

Besides this, TRAI released a consultation paper on net neutrality – you have till February 15 to send in your responses to the regulator on this important issue.

Paytm also announced an interesting development this week – it’s finally received approval to launch its payments bank – the actual rollout will still take a little time, but it’s expected in the coming months. Paytm had earlier announced that it’s going to merge its Wallet and Payments Bank, so your wallet balance will automatically become your bank balance.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited India this week, and launched new programs to help SMBs go digital. He visited his alma mater IIT-Kharagpur, where he talked to students, and told NDTV’s Vikram Chandra in an interview Google is keen to work on UPI. He also met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who says Google should tailor its services to local needs.

These were the highlights of the week for us, let us know via the comments what caught your eye this week.


Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC Review


  • The Radeon RX 580 is AMD’s latest GPU for mid-range gamers
  • Asus has overclocked it and used an enormous cooler with RGB LEDs
  • The Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC Review is priced at Rs. 25,500

When we see a new generation in a company’s numbering scheme, we expect that there’s at least some justification behind it, but that isn’t always the case. There are many reasons for companies to just slap a new label on an old product and ship it out – the publicity that surrounds a new launch, the illusion that buyers are getting something bigger or better, and the chance to steal a competitor’s thunder at an opportune time.

It hasn’t even been a full year since we reviewed the Radeon RX 480 GPU, as well as the RX 470 and RX 460 which followed it, but they have now been replaced by the Radeon RX 500 series. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the new Radeon RX 500 series is just a mild refresh of the RX 400 series. It seems that AMD felt it was time to move up a generation – in terms of marketing, if not the actual underlying technology.

Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC Review

Radeon RX 480 GPU, as well as the RX 470 and RX 460 which followed it, but they have now been replaced by the Radeon RX 500 series. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the new Radeon RX 500 series is just a mild refresh of the RX 400 series. It seems that AMD felt it was time to move up a generation – in terms of marketing, if not the actual underlying technology.

The Radeon RX 400 series was important for AMD because it was the first to debut a significantly new architecture, called Polaris, which was long overdue after a string of minor refreshes of old products. In the face of multiple successful Nvidia GPUs, AMD had only been able to release the lukewarm Radeon RX 300 models that were just rebadged 200s, many of which themselves weren’t much different from the previous Radeon HD 7xxx series. Now, it seems that the company has gone back to old habits.

We have with us Asus’ ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC, which sells for Rs. 25,500. We’re eager to see how the Radeon RX 580 GPU stacks up against last year’s Radeon RX 480, and what exactly Asus’s implementation adds to the mix.

asus radeon 580 logo ndtv asus radeon RX 580

The Radeon RX 580 GPU
We’ve established that there isn’t anything different about the GPU’s underlying architecture, but there have been some improvements to the manufacturing process over time that allow AMD to extract slightly more performance per chip than when the RX 480 first went into production. The company simply calls this its “latest generation” 14nm process.

There are still 2,304 programmable cores that AMD calls “stream processors” organised into 36 clusters for a total of 5.7 billion transistors. AMD has set a base frequency of 1257MHz and a boost ceiling of 1340MHz, up from 1120MHz and 1266MHz respectively on the RX 480. Of course, board partners such as Asus are free to tweak those speeds if they can compensate with adequate cooling.

The memory bus is also still 256 bits wide but the memory speed has gone up to 8Gbps for an effective bandwidth of 256GBps. Radeon RX 580 cards will be available with either 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. What is very interesting is that the GPU’s power draw has increased from 150W to 185W – a considerable amount, which doesn’t really mesh with AMD’s claim that improved power efficiency is the reason for the higher clock speeds.

asus radeon 580 topbottom ndtv asus radeon RX 580

Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC
There is no RX 580 reference design like there was for the RX 480. AMD’s partners are only selling cards with their own custom-designed coolers. Asus of course has a variety of models out, and the most elaborate of them is the ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC. As its name suggests, this card has 8GB of RAM and higher clock speeds – a base of 1360MHz, with a miniscule bump up to 1380MHz in “OC mode”.

This card is absolutely massive. It’s much taller, wider and thicker than it needs to be, and the main reason for that seems to be that some people just like hardware that they can show off. Flagship-class graphics cards are almost always 10.5 inches long and occupy two motherboard slots, but this card is nearly 12 inches long and thick enough to block three. You’ll need to make sure that your PC case can handle such a beast.

Asus justifies the card’s size and premium pricing by saying that there’s 40 percent more heatsink surface area than usual, resulting in better cooling. It has also used premium components all around, including the power regulators and a super-smooth precision-machined contact point that apparently helps pull heat away from the GPU.

Asus has gone with a grey colour for the fan shroud, with lots of sharply angled surfaces and claw-like cutouts for RGB LEDs. We’ve seen this design before, and it does look rather imposing. The LEDs light up in red by default though you can change this using Asus’s Aura software, and sync patterns with an Asus Aura motherboard and peripherals. There’s an illuminated “Republic of Gamers” label on the top of the shroud as well as an ROG logo on the backplate just in case another reminder was needed.

Three fans is probably overkill, but clearly Asus wasn’t going for subtlety here. According to the company, the patented fan blade design delivers lower noise, better airflow, and increased lifespan. The fans don’t spin unless they need to. Asus also provides headers so that you can have additional case fans triggered when the GPU temperature rises.

On the rear of the card, you’ll find one DVI-D port, two DisplayPorts, and two HDMI 2.0 outputs. This arrangement was chosen specifically so that you can use a VR headset and an HDMI monitor at the same time without adapters or having to swap plugs. Despite this card’s heavy-duty appearance, only one 8-pin PCIe power connector is required.

asus radeon 580 ports ndtv asus radeon RX 580

Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC setup and performance
Installing the card in our open-air test bench was no trouble, but you might struggle if you have a normal-sized ATX PC cabinet. There’s a plastic sheet over the backplate that needs to be removed before installation, but no obvious warning label or instructions. Asus provides plastic dust blockers for all ports, which we always appreciate. There are no display or power adapters in the box, but you aren’t likely to need any. Asus does throw in two Velcro cable ties, which could come in handy.

It became clear fairly quickly that Asus’s claims that this card runs nearly silent aren’t exactly accurate. You might not have to deal with the thrum of fans or blasts of air being pushed out through a narrow vent, but the card pretty much constantly made an audible high-pitched electronic whine. Whenever activity picked up and the fans started spinning, it started making buzzing, grating noises and the occasional loud chirp. Of course, this might have been a quirk of our review unit, and future firmware updates might help, but our early impressions of the card weren’t that great.

If this issue has to do with the components used or the overall design of the Strix cooler rather than a one-off defect with our one unit, your level of annoyance will depend on the type and positioning of your PC cabinet. On the bright side, our card didn’t get too hot at any point, and even ran for quite a long time before the fans needed to spin up.


The Aura lighting app worked just as expected, allowing us to choose a static colour or breathing, strobing and colour cycling effects. You don’t get multiple zones, but you can set the lights to pulse to your music or change with the card’s temperature.

CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
Motherboard MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium
RAM 2×8 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000
SSD Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB
CPU cooler Noctua NH-U12S SE -AM4
PSU Corsair RM650
Monitor Asus PB287Q
OS Windows 10
We started testing the ROG Strix Radeon RX580’s performance with 3DMark, and got scores of 11,823, 5,884 and 3,132 in the Fire Strike Standard, Extreme, and Unlimited tests. For the sake of comparison, we redid the same tests with an older XFX Radeon R9 380X DD BLK OC 4GB card on the same rig, and got scores of 8,438, 4,176, and 2,221 respectively. The newer 3DMark Time Spy test returned 4,492 and 3,092 points respectively. You can check out test results for the Radeon RX 480 as well as Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 GPUs here, though they were tested with a different set of components.

Unigine Valley gave us 53.9fps running at 1920×1080 using the Ultra preset, while Star Swarm gave us 40.22fps with the Radeon RX 580 versus 35.7fps and 53.9fps respectively with the Radeon R9 380X. We ran Metro: Last Light Redux’s built-in benchmark at 2560×1440 with the High quality preset and got 76.38fps with the Radeon RX 580 and 54.31fps with the Radeon R9 380X.

Ashes of the Singularity uses the newer DirectX 12 API. We tested it at 2560×1440 using the Standard, High, and Extreme quality presets. Scores for the Radeon RX 580 were 61.9fps, 57.4fps, and 44.2fps respectively. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gave us 28.9fps running at 2560×1440 using its High preset. Then, we moved on to real-world gameplay in a variety of games.

DOOM ran beautifully, as expected. Using the Ultra quality preset and Vulkan renderer, we played through the Foundry level and saw around 90-110fps on average at 2560×1440. We tried pushing the resolution up to 4K and saw that the average framerate dropped to 45-60. That isn’t too bad, but the experience is smoother at the lower resolution which means that this GPU really shouldn’t be pushed too hard in the latest games.

We ran through a bit of Rise of the Tomb Raider at 2560×1440 using the High preset. Frame rates stayed very consistent, with an average of 54fps and frame times averaging 18.6ms. We weren’t bothered by any tearing or skipping. This is a pretty comfortable combination of resolution and quality for the RX 580 to stay at. 4K is not really possible without compromising the frame times, which is about right considering AMD’s positioning.

Asus Radeon 580 rottr ndtv asus radeon 580

Next up, we ran through some forests and got into a few scuffles in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The resolution was set to 2560×1440, and both graphics and postprocessing were using their High presets. We did see a few glitches, but they were very slight. The 47fps average framerate doesn’t show smoothness, but a look at the frame time graph illustrates that there were quite a few erratic frames. Quality stayed above 30fps for the most part, but there were few noticeable tears. Most people should be fine with this level of performance considering how demanding this game is.

Asus Radeon 580 witcher3 ndtv asus radeon 580

Far Cry 4 also ran fairly well at 2560×1440 using its Very High preset. We got a fairly high average of 75fps, and the frame time graph shows that quite a lot of the action held steady at over 60fps. However, the game did stutter in places. We were tempted to push the resolution up to 4K, but found that 1440p was better overall in terms of smoothness.

Asus Radeon 580 fc4 ndtv asus radeon 580

To cut a long story short, there is absolutely no reason for you to buy a new graphics card based on a Radeon RX 580 GPU if you’re already using a top-end model bought within the past two years, but it should be a worthy upgrade if you’re using an RX 200 series card or something from lower down the product stack. It’s more than enough for high-quality 1080p gaming, and does reasonably well at 1440p too. If you are determined to buy a high-end Radeon right now, make sure you’re getting an RX 580 and not the RX 480, since street prices are hovering at around the same level.

AMD should unveil its next-generation Vega architecture soon, but GPUs based on it will target much higher performance, and graphics cards will consequently be much more expensive. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 is also still a very strong competitor, and while it won’t beat an RX 580 comprehensively like it beat the RX 480 last year, lower street prices give the green team an advantage.

As for the Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC in particular, it’s clear that this card isn’t the most sensible option for mainstream users. It costs more than most other RX 580 8GB cards, and isn’t likely to deliver that much of a marginal performance improvement over a more conventional dual-fan cooler. We’re also wary of the electrical whine. If you need a graphics card to show off and aren’t willing to spend on a flagship-class GPU, the Strix Radeon RX 580 will satisfy you. If it’s going to stay hidden away in a windowless cabinet, save a bit of money and go with a less flashy model.

Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 8GB OC
Price: Rs. 25,500

Looks like a more expensive graphics card
Good performance at 1080p and 1440p
RGB LED lighting effects

Constant whine

Ratings (Out of 5)
Performance: 4
Value for Money: 3.5
Overall: 4

Asus ROG Zephyrus Launched as 'World's Slimmest Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080' at Computex 2017


  • Oppo F3 is priced at 19,990
  • It was launched earlier this month in India
  • The Black Edition will be launched on June 4

Apart from a host of laptops and tablets, Asus has also amped up its Republic of Gamers product lineup at Computex 2017 in Taipei. This includes the “world’s slimmest gaming laptop with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080”, the Asus ROG Zephyrus (GX501VI), and a new ROG Swift PG35VQ gaming monitor as well. At the ROG Computex event, Asus also unveiled a colourful Strix Fusion headset and a slick USB monitor called ZenScreen as well.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Launched as 'World's Slimmest Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080' at Computex 2017

Starting with the big news, Asus’s ROG Zephyrus is a laptop built for gamers and is thinner than all the ROG laptops launched before. It boasts of high-end gaming hardware with support for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, seventh generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, an optional 120Hz wide-view display, and it ships with the latest Windows 10 Creators Update. During intensive gaming sessions, Asus claims the ROG Zephyrus maintains its temperature with a new ‘Active Aerodynamic System’ air-flow design crammed into a 16.9 -17.9mm chassis. Asus claims that this new flexible system allows for 20 percent more airflow than before. The laptop weighs only 2.2kgs, and sports of a RGB keyboard as well.


The ROG Zephyrus’ display is at 15.6-inch (1920×1080 pixels) and supports up to 24GB of DDR4 RAM. The laptop offers 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage options. Ports include a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, four USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0 (for VR), and a 3.5mm headset opening. With respect to the keyboard design, the buttons are moved up front for better cooling management and make it feel more like a desktop system. The keyboard, as mentioned, has RGB lightning, and features anti-ghosting keys that can support up to 30 keys pressed at the same time.


Asus has launched two variants of the ROG Zephyrus, however, it does not properly specify the differences in the two, though one variant is speculated to downgrade the graphics to a GeForce GTX 1070 card. The ROG Zephyrus GX501VI variant is priced starting at $2699 (roughly Rs. 174,200) and the ROG Zephyrus GX501VS variant is priced starting at $2299 (roughly Rs. 148,400). Both the variants will be available at the end of June in the USA and Canada.

At the ROG event, Asus also launched the ROG Swift PG35VQ gaming monitor that has a quantum dot 3440×1440 pixels LCD display with HDR support. The refresh rate is pegged at an impressive 200Hz and it comes with G-sync support. There’s no word on pricing or availability. Alongside, Asus also launched the Strix Fusion headset with lights that can be configured to blink in sync with your fellow gamer. This is expected to ship sometime in the third quarter.

Lastly, it also launched a 15.6-inch 1080p USB monitor called ZenScreen. It comes with a pen to prop up the monitor, but do note that the ZenScreen does not have a touchscreen display nor does it support stylus. The ZenScreen is priced at $249 (roughly Rs. 16,000), and will launch in Taiwan first, with other markets to follow eventually.

Asus to Reportedly Kill Its ZenWatch Android Wear Lineup Due to Poor Sales


  • Asus has shipped an average of 5,000-6,000 ZenWatches per month
  • Huawei and LG have also slowed down their smartwatch efforts
  • Asus’ last major Android Wear smartwatch was the ZenWatch 3

Asus to Reportedly Kill Its ZenWatch Android Wear Lineup Due to Poor Sales

Asus may just kill its ZenWatch lineup of Android Wear smartwatches soon, according to some reports that have recently surfaced. It seems that Asus is having a tough time selling its smartwatches and the low sales may just push the company to pull the plug on the smartwatch.

The Taiwanese company, according to a report from Digitimes, has been shipping an average of 5,000 to 6,000 ZenWatches per month, which is not a good sign when compared to the likes of Apple, Xiaomi and Fitbit who have shipped their respective smartwatches in millions in the past quarter.

Asus is not the only one who has given up on its Android Wear smartwatch. Lenovo brand Moto in December also put a hold on its smartwatch efforts, deciding not to launch a new wearable with the latest Android Wear 2.0. However, the company has not decided to kill its lineup just yet. Meanwhile, Huawei and LG have also slowed down their production citing a lack of interest in the market.


Notably, companies like Misfit, LG, Verizon and Tag Heuer have launched smartwatches running on the latest Android Wear 2.0. The new operating system was unveiled in February and brings a number of improvements over the first version including improved interface, customised watch faces, Google Assistant and Android Pay Support, among other things.

Asus’ last major Android Wear smartwatch was the ZenWatch 3, which was launched in India back in December starting at Rs. 17,599. The smartwatch sports a 1.39-inch Amoled display with a 400×400 pixel resolution (287ppi pixel density). It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, coupled with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of inbuilt storage.