Oppo R11 to be available outside China starting next week

The Oppo R11 – which was made official last week, and is currently only available in China – will soon be available outside of its home country. According to a Weibo post, the device will go on sale in Taiwan next week.

Specifically, the post notes the launch is set for June 21. As for pricing, the phone will carry a tag of NTD 15,990, which translates into around $525. For comparison, the R11’s price in China is CNY2,999, or around $4

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

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.

 

How Apple Lost Last Week to Microsoft

Last week, Apple and Microsoft had dueling product launch events. And in the tech version of this “Who wore it better?” contest, the winner seems to be: Microsoft.

That’s right. At least in the microcosm of last week, Microsoft has made Apple look like the square, after lifting the veil on a 28-inch touchscreen all-in-one desktop called the Surface Studio that immediately had tech enthusiasts drooling. Over a desktop.

(Also see: Everything You Need to Know About the Microsoft Surface Studio)

One could argue that this is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Microsoft, while on the rise again, still benefits from lower expectations than Apple. Introducing a new product, such as the Studio, is almost always going to be more exciting than upgrading an old line. But there is a common thread here, which we can use to analyze how these companies are thinking about the future – even more specifically, the future of touch and computing.

How Apple Lost Last Week to Microsoft

Touch itself, as a technology, isn’t new. But Microsoft did a good job of framing its incorporation of touch with the Studio as expansive, liberating, and a universal way to unlock potential. Who doesn’t want to think that they have a symphony, novel, or artistic masterpiece inside them, just waiting to be unlocked by the right new tools?

Apple, on the other, seems to have uncharacteristically flubbed its audience pitch. Speaking to analysts after its event, it seemed that “current MacBook Pro owners looking to upgrade” was the main audience Apple was going for.

That’s practical – Apple laptops sell well. It’s not inspiring, though, is it?

What makes this even more odd is that Apple is arguably the company that, arguably, did something really new for their company, at least – the Touch Bar shows off something we haven’t seen from Apple before. The Surface Studio looks gorgeous, but Microsoft’s essentially made an enormous version of its Surface tablet. It’s a very stylish and powerful one, but that’s basically what it is.

Given a couple of days, and a truly dazzling Apple event, that probably could have become the storyline for the Studio. But try to explain what exactly Apple did, and it’s surprisingly hard. They put a miniature iPhone screen at the top of the keyboard, that you could probably ignore if you wanted?

That’s a too-harsh assessment of the Touch Bar from someone who’s only played around with it for less than a half-hour altogether. But the Touch Bar certainly lacks a clarity of purpose that Microsoft managed to nail with its products – and managed to nail by not-so-subtly going after Apple’s traditional market of creatives.

Even Apple’s main on-stage demos, of photo-editing and a DJ, weren’t effective pitches for the MacBook Pro. The demos were fine, but there needed to be something communicated to a broader set of users that wasn’t just, “Hey, you can stop using those keyboard shortcuts you’ve committed to muscle memory over the years.”

Should it be all red lights and klaxons in Cupertino? Not necessarily. But there is a sense of longing for something more from Apple. Apple has a lot to prove, and it’s not proving it quite well enough. I’ve heard more “Well, I am a little tempted by the [insert competing product here]” from Apple fans this year than I’ve heard in a long time.

(Also see: MacBook Pro 2016 vs Microsoft Surface Pro vs HP Spectre 13)

Temptation isn’t enough to uproot a customer, particularly when you’ve done as good a job of keeping users in your ecosystem as Apple has. Apple will still make money, since Apple fans have proven in the past that they’re willing to pay a premium for its products, said Linn Huang, of the analysis firm IDC.

“Apple is in the position to say, with something new, that it can charge what it wants,” he said.

But that’s no way to retain happy customers, particularly for a firm that prides itself in manufacturing delight. Yet it’s somehow Microsoft – out of desperation, inspiration or a combination of both – that has managed to make products that are turning heads.

Apple should not panic. But it should at least take note.

Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple has been tipped to upgrade MacBook Pro with new processors
  • MacBook Air has been suggested to be updated at WWDC 2017 as well
  • Apple might launch a MacBook model with 32GB of RAM as well

Apple has been rumoured to update its laptop lineup at its WWDC event early next month but now there are some strong indications, this time coming from company’s own official site, which suggest that it would be wise to wait before you buy your next MacBook. As per Apple’s online store, the delivery times of 15-inch MacBook Pro have now been delayed to June 5- June 6, which is one day after company’s WWDC keynote, from usual deliveries on same day or 3-5 business days.

While the delivery estimates for the 13-inch MacBook models have not been changed and the laptops are available for delivery as soon as the next day, the recent changes give credence to a report that suggested that Apple is planning to launch new MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook models on June 5, as pointed out in a report by MacRumors.

Usually when the delivery times are changed on Apple’s official website, they indicate that the company is planning to launch new products and as the Cupertino-based company’s event is right around the corner, we might be able to see new MacBook models. Conventionally, WWDC is associated with software but this time around, the event has been heavily linked with launch of new hardware products.

Earlier this month, a report suggested that Apple will be refreshing its MacBook lineup, with updates lined up for 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Pro, and the almost forgotten MacBook Air as well.

Image result for Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

First coming to the MacBook Pro upgrade, Apple has been tipped to update the laptop with Intel’s Kaby Lake processor series, from the current SkyLake processors. Further, the company is expected to launch a 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to cater to the need of professional users, as pointed out in a report by 9To5Mac. There are reportedly some price cuts to the existing models that can be expected to be announced at WWDC 2017.

The 12-inch variant of the MacBook laptop series has been tipped to be upgraded with new Kaby Lake processors as well as receive a new 16GB RAM option as per KGI, 9To5Mac points out.

Finally coming to the MacBook Air, while the upgrade rumours for the laptop are thin and hard to find, the laptop is expected to be refreshed with new processors at the very least.

As all of this talks is from rumour town, we will have to wait till the company’s official announcement next month to get any confirmation about the laptops.

Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple has been tipped to upgrade MacBook Pro with new processors
  • MacBook Air has been suggested to be updated at WWDC 2017 as well
  • Apple might launch a MacBook model with 32GB of RAM as well

Apple has been rumoured to update its laptop lineup at its WWDC event early next month but now there are some strong indications, this time coming from company’s own official site, which suggest that it would be wise to wait before you buy your next MacBook. As per Apple’s online store, the delivery times of 15-inch MacBook Pro have now been delayed to June 5- June 6, which is one day after company’s WWDC keynote, from usual deliveries on same day or 3-5 business days.

While the delivery estimates for the 13-inch MacBook models have not been changed and the laptops are available for delivery as soon as the next day, the recent changes give credence to a report that suggested that Apple is planning to launch new MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook models on June 5, as pointed out in a report by MacRumors.

Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

Usually when the delivery times are changed on Apple’s official website, they indicate that the company is planning to launch new products and as the Cupertino-based company’s event is right around the corner, we might be able to see new MacBook models. Conventionally, WWDC is associated with software but this time around, the event has been heavily linked with launch of new hardware products.

Earlier this month, a report suggested that Apple will be refreshing its MacBook lineup, with updates lined up for 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Pro, and the almost forgotten MacBook Air as well.

 

First coming to the MacBook Pro upgrade, Apple has been tipped to update the laptop with Intel’s Kaby Lake processor series, from the current SkyLake processors. Further, the company is expected to launch a 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to cater to the need of professional users, as pointed out in a report by 9To5Mac. There are reportedly some price cuts to the existing models that can be expected to be announced at WWDC 2017.

The 12-inch variant of the MacBook laptop series has been tipped to be upgraded with new Kaby Lake processors as well as receive a new 16GB RAM option as per KGI, 9To5Mac points out.

Finally coming to the MacBook Air, while the upgrade rumours for the laptop are thin and hard to find, the laptop is expected to be refreshed with new processors at the very least.

As all of this talks is from rumour town, we will have to wait till the company’s official announcement next month to get any confirmation about the laptops.