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.

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

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.

 

iPhone 8 could feature a rear-facing laser system for AR and better autofocus

 

Moreover, with the use of the laser system, depth detection for AR apps would be easier as well. The report further states that Apple has bought vertical-cavity-surface-emitting-laser components for use with the VCSEL system expected on the phone. As per sources, the Cupertino-giant would have to spend only $2 extra per device. So, on Apple’s side, it would prove to be beneficial. However, the report says, “Whether the sensor will be included in that phone, or a 2018 iPhone, depends on the progress the Apple engineers make in integrating the laser system into the phone”.iPhone 8 could feature a rear-facing laser system for AR and autofocus

This means even though Apple employees are working hard, we may not see the laser system in this year’s edition of iPhone. Moving on to the iPhone 8’s front-facing camera, it is expected to come with a 3D sensor and facial recognition technology. As some of you may know, renowned industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had said that this camera would be ‘revolutionary’. Besides this, the report says that the iPhone 8 would arrive with a Touch ID. However, it doesn’t specify whether the fingerprint scanner would be embedded into the display or it would be placed on the rear panel of the device. Contrary to this report, yesterday a publication claimed that Apple will ditch the fingerprint scanner on iPhone 8. Instead, it would rely on a face recognition system.

Now, truth to be told, so many rumors emerge every day that it is hard to keep a track. Also, the authenticity of this information as questionable since it comes from unofficial sources.

 

Apple’s 2017 Roadmap Leaked by ‘Foxconn Insiders’; Includes Siri Speaker and AR Glasses

 

HIGHLIGHTS
iPhone 8 has been tipped to come with 3GB of RAM
iPhone 7s is expected to come with aluminium body
MacBook Air has been tipped to be discontinued
It is not a new thing for an Apple product to be leaked ahead of launch but if a newly surfaced leak turns out to be legitimate, we might already have information about several upcoming products from the Cupertino-based company. Alleged Foxconn insiders have reportedly leaked information about company’s plans about augmented reality, upcoming smartphones, laptops, and a voice-activated speaker.

In a Reddit thread, ‘foxconninsider’ has revealed that a 32GB RAM variant will be introduced to the 15-inch MacBook Pro lineup and that MacBook Air laptop will be discontinued by the company, as pointed out in a report by AppleInsider. However, the source didn’t respond to a query seeking the timeline for the addition of the new RAM variant.

Interestingly, earlier reports have suggested that Apple will be introducing the 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro on Monday at its WWDC 2017 event. Further, the leaks have suggested that Apple will be refreshing its MacBook Air laptop at its event, contradicting the new information.

While foxconninsider says that new designs have been tested including “more glass and dark black body,” the glowing Apple logo is also expected to be reintroduced to the lineup. A MacBook with dynamic E-Ink keyboard, rumoured since last year, is apparently in the pipeline for 2018 as well.

Moving to the iPad, the alleged insiders have suggested that a new size variant is expected to be launched but said that they don’t have access to the tablet, as pointed out in a report by The Verge. Apple is currently expected to launch two iPad Pro tablets – one with a 10.5-inch display and the other with a 12.9-inch display.Apple's 2017 Roadmap Leaked by 'Foxconn Insiders'; Includes Siri Speaker and AR Glasses

Apple is already expected to announce its Siri-powered speaker at WWDC 2017, and foxconninsider says that Foxconn lost out to another contract manufacturer for its production. Calling it the Apple home speaker, the tipsters added that its availability will be delayed until late-2017. The tipsters also said the speaker has a similar shape to Mac Pro, adding that it hadn’t been seen in a while. The Siri-powered speaker has been tipped to come with a modified A9 chip, as pointed out by The Verge.
Coming to the information leaked regarding iPhone 8 aka iPhone X, the design of the smartphone has been described as “more like an iPhone 7 with glass and without the AuthenTec’s capacitive touch module.” The design on the smartphone has been described by foxconninsider as closest to a leaked image that shows a vertical dual camera setup with glass back.

The source said that some units with glass back and fingerprint sensor beneath the glass were tested as well but the yields were not found to be “not good”. The iPhone X has been said to feature facial detection as well as a retina scanner that will be “included in the front facing camera modules,” as pointed out by The Verge. The foxconninsider says that the iPhone X will pack 3GB of RAM. The glass has been said to be included to enable wireless charging and USB Type-C has been tipped to be removed from the phone altogether. As a result, the iPhone X is also expected to be water resistant as well. On the other hand, iPhone 7s, the rumoured refresh for the iPhone 7 has been tipped to come with aluminium unibody and not feature wireless charging.

Notably, the augmented reality glasses from the company, which have been in leaks, were also discussed in the Reddit session. As per foxconninsider, the project for augmented reality glasses has been termed Project Mirrorshades and is being designed to bring AR to a larger audience, as pointed out by The Verge.

The Apple AR glasses, termed Apple Smart Glasses, have been tipped to come with “Kopin NED Acetate frame, Polarisized or prescription lens with Zeiss smart optics, Bone induction modules Microphones (noise cancellation), Light sensor Accelerometer for step tracking and head movement, app navigation Magnetometer for navigation, Capacitive Pavel Ceramic battery, Apple chipset, Charging circuit BL5 Induction module.”

The cost of the materials used for these glasses have been estimated to be around $150 (roughly Rs.), and would eventually place the retail price around $600, as per the information made available by foxconninsider. However, the entire project can even be cancelled with the source claiming that there is 65 percent chance of cancellation.

While some of the information might be proved correct or be disproved at company’s WWDC event, we might have to wait a little longer for information on other products. Till that time, we would advise you to keep grain of salt by your side.