Jio Phone to Increase ARPU in the Long Term: ICRA

Flagging concerns on the success of the new feature phone offering – JioPhone – from Reliance Jio, rating agency ICRA on Tuesday said it’s positive from an ARPU (average revenue per user) perspective, while rival Crisil estimated a massive slowdown in data usage growth to 4X in the next five years from the present growth rate of 24X.

“JioPhone is likely to keep the competitive intensity of the industry high with RJio targeting strong addition of lower-ARPU subscribers and/ or rural subscribers,” ICRA said in a note.

The report said in the long-term, Reliance Jio can help push up the overall ARPU levels of the industry with the JioPhone product aimed at low-ARPU users.

The agency, however, flagged a slew of concerns for the success of the offering, including it being a bundled phone – something that has not succeeded in the domestic market so far many times. Other ICRA concerns include the “tricky issue” of bundling of apps and creating a ‘walled garden’, and whether the JioPhone would be able to let customers use other apps.

“Marketability and acceptability of JioPhone would hinge on the kind of data experience it offers to the users without the port to connect to the TV, which comes at a higher monthly charge,” ICRA said, adding the ‘effectively free’ phone can also increase funding requirements for the company.

Meanwhile, Crisil said it expects data usage growth to slowdown to 4X in the next five fiscal years, as against the 24X growth seen in the previous five years. The number of data subscribers is estimated to double to 900 million and the penetration will also double to 80 percent in the period, it said.

Crisil said the faster mobile data penetration would be supported by a continued drop in tariffs given the intense fight for market leadership, and telcos will have to “increasingly sweat per-subscriber usage to bolster incremental revenues.”

Jio Phone to Increase ARPU in the Long Term: ICRAMobile data usage per subscriber nearly doubled to around 1.3GB per month between fiscal 2013 and 2017 on faster adoption of 3G and 4G services, Crisil said, adding Jio’s free data and a sharp 40 percent fall in tariffs in fiscal 2017 were the growth propellants.

Over the next five years, a larger number of new users will be from rural areas and their relatively lower data usage would impact the industry’s average data usage adversely, the report added.

Crisil said a similar trend was observed in China as well and added the faster and cheaper Wi-Fi will play an important role from here on.

“The cost of offering services on Wi-Fi is just a fifth of mobile, and speeds are significantly faster, too. We expect a sharp increase in Wi-Fi hotspots over the next three to five years, which can be a drag on mobile data growth once penetration growth plateaus,” the agency said.

Despite the drop in tariffs, mobile will be 80 percent costlier than Wi-Fi, it said, adding the country has only around 35,000 hotspots compared with 58 lakh and 6.5 lakh in China and South Korea, respectively.

Intex Aqua Power IV With 4000mAh Battery, 4G VoLTE Support Launched at Rs. 5,499

Intex on Wednesday launched the Aqua Power IV smartphone in India at Rs. 5,499. The most notable features of the budget smartphone are its massive 4000mAh battery and 4G VoLTE support. It will be made available in Gold and Black colour variants.

The Intex Aqua Power IV runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sports a 5-inch FWVGA (480×854 pixels) TN display. The smartphone is powered by a quad-core processor (unspecified) clocked at 1.3GHz that’s coupled with 1GB of RAM. In terms of optics, the Intex Aqua Power IV comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera with flash support as well.

Intex Aqua Power IV With 4000mAh Battery, 4G VoLTE Support Launched at Rs. 5,499The new Intex smartphone comes with 16GB of built-in storage, which is expandable up to 128GB via microSD card. As mentioned earlier, the Intex Aqua Power IV houses a 4000mAh battery. The handset measures 145×71.8×10.5mm and weighs 172 grams.

Moving on to the features, the smartphone comes with some pre-loaded VAS services including Xender, Gaana, Prime Video, and Vistoso.

Commenting on the launch of the Aqua Power IV, Ishita Bansal, Product Head (Mobiles), Intex Technologies said in the company’s release, “With Aqua Power IV, the users will sense a top notch battery experience. We at Intex work to provide adept and smart products that meet the most essential needs of the consumers and Aqua Power IV will provide a seamless experience to the millennial generation.”

MIUI 9 Launched: Download Date, New Features, and More

Xiaomi has unveiled MIUI 9, the much-anticipated new version of its MIUI custom Android ROM. MIUI 9 is based on Android 7.0 Nougat, and apart from Nougat features like split screen, it boasts of faster app launch times, a more dynamic resource allocation for a fluid experience, and other smart features and improvements. As for the question you’re probably itching to know the answer to – when will you be able to download MIUI 9? August 11, says Xiaomi, but more on that later.

Xiaomi has chosen to highlight three main new features in the new OS version – Image search, Smart Assistant, and Smart app launcher. MIUI 9 will run out-of-the-box on the Xiaomi Mi 5X, which was launched alongside the new ROM on Wednesday.

MIUI 9 download date and phones

The first beta, referred to as a developer ROM in this case, will be made available on August 11. Note, that this is the China Developer ROM, and currently no information about the Global ROM rollout has been provided. The China ROM and Global ROM have a slightly different feature set. The first batch of the MIUI 9 China Developer ROM will be released for Xiaomi Mi 6, Mi 5X, and Redmi Note 4X(Qualcomm variant).

The second phase of the MIUI 9 China Developer ROM rollout will begin on August 25, with builds for the Xiaomi Mi MIX, Mi Note 2, Mi 5, Mi 5s, Mi 5s Plus, Mi 5c, Mi Max 2, Mi Max, Mi 4S, Mi 4c, Mi Note Pro, and Redmi 4X. Finally, in late September, the MIUI 9 China Developer ROM will be made available to all other Xiaomi and Redmi devices, the company says, excepting the Mi 1/1S and Mi 2A. All compatible devices to get the MIUI 9 update eventually are listed here.

MIUI 9 features

MIUI 9, which packs a bunch of new features and improvements including faster app load times, new design elements, shortcuts on lock screen, split screen feature, smart functionality and more.

miui 9 image search miui 9

Xiaomi says that the MIUI 9 optimises the system to boost performance and load apps faster than before. Another highlight is the new Image feature search that has the ability to distinguish your images by typing in keywords.

The Smart Assistant feature will let you search for pretty much anything on your phone and swiping to right on the home screen will bring up the search along with app suggestions, news and other customisable widgets, similar to Apple’s Spotlight feature for iOS.

Notably, a new Smart app launcher will suggest apps to launch based on the content on the screen. Xiaomi says that some of the features mentioned here will only be available in China and that the Global ROM might be a little different.

The latest OS also brings three new themes, No Boundary, Colour Fantasy, and, Cool Black as well as a new default theme. Additional new features include a new design on the lock screen, a new shortcut to activate the torch by swiping right on the lock screen. The split-screen feature that was launched with Android 7.0 Nougat can now be found on MIUI 9 as well.

Moto Z2 Force With ShatterShield Display, 6GB of RAM Launched Alongside Moto 360 Camera Mod

Lenovo has launched a new flagship smartphone, the Moto Z2 Force . Like the previous ‘Force’ smartphone in the Moto Z series, the Moto Z2 Force Edition – as the company calls it – sports a ShatterShield display that’s guaranteed not to crack or shatter. As rumoured, the smartphone also bears dual rear cameras and carries forward the Moto Z series’ support for Moto Mod accessories. Key specifications of the Moto Z2 Force include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, up to 6GB of RAM, and Gigabit LTE connectivity. Alongside the smartphone, the company also officially launched the Moto 360 Camera Moto Mod for the US market.

Moto Z2 Force price

The smartphone will go on sale across various carriers in the US from August 10, with pre-orders now open for buyers in the country. Unlocked, the price of the Moto Z2 Force starts at $799 (roughly Rs. 51,500), with monthly plans starting from $33 (roughly Rs. 2,000). It will be available in Fine Gold, Lunar Grey (for T-Mobile only), and Super Black colour variants. The smartphone will go on sale across various carriers in the US from August 10, with pre-orders now open. The Moto Z2 Force will go on sale in Mexico, Brazil, Europe, Middle East, and Africa from “later this summer”, the company says. There’s no word yet on India price or release date of the Moto Z2 Force.

Moto Z2 Force specifications and features

The new Moto is built out of 7000 series aluminium, and its 6.1mm thick unibody design also forgoes the 3.5mm headphone jack to use a USB Type-C port instead – a 3.5mm to USB Type-C adapter is included in the box. The super-slim profile also restricted the company to a relatively undersized 2730mAh battery, and a water-repellent nano-coating has been added. The back panel features pogo pin connectors for the Moto Mods.

The company has also included compatibility for Google’s Daydream VR platform. The Moto Z2 Force bears a fingerprint scanner on the Home Button, which also features the new one-button navigation features we first saw introduced in the Moto G5 series. It will be available in two RAM variants – 4GB RAM/ 64GB inbuilt storage and 6GB RAM/ 128GB inbuilt storage – while some regions will receive a dual-SIM model.

Running Android 7.1.1 Nougat (with an upgrade to Android O promised), the Moto Z2 Force sports a 5.5-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) ShatterShield POLED display. As we mentioned, the smartphone is powered by the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, coupled with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM.

moto z2 force black moto

The Moto Z2 Force bears dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, with one capturing light in colour and the other in monochrome. Both sport Sony IMX386 sensors with 1.25-micron pixels, and an f/2.0 aperture. The setup also bears PDAF, laser autofocus, and a CCT dual-LED flash. With the setup, users can enjoy features like selective focus (Bokeh), selective black and white, background replacement, and real-time and post shot depth. As for the front camera, the Moto Z2 Force sports a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, 85-degree wide angle lens, and LED flash module.

The smartphone’s inbuilt storage is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). Connectivity options include 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v4.2 (v5.0 support to be added with Android O update), NFC, GPS/ A-GPS, and USB Type-C. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and proximity sensor. The 2730mAh battery comes with a 15W TurboPower charger. The Moto Z2 Force measures 155.8x76x 6.1mm, and weighs 143 grams.

Moto 360 Camera Moto Mod price, features

Finally, we come to the new Moto 360 Camera Moto Mod can capture 4K 360-degree video alongside 3D audio. Apart from that, users will also be able to capture 150-degree wide-angle still images with the camera. To recall, it was unveiled alongside six Moto Mod additions earlier this month. It has been priced at $299 (roughly Rs. 19,300), and will be available globally from August 10.

Qualcomm’s Neural Processing Engine SDK to Enable Better Optimisation for AI

Artificial intelligence and neural networks have been at the core of almost every technological breakthrough that has come out in the last one year. Considering this, Qualcomm has now released its Neural Processing Engine (NPE) SDK that allows developers to accelerate the deep neural network or AI-type workloads on devices that have Snapdragon processors.

The Neural Processing Engine SDK, which is compatible with Snapdragon 600 and 800 Series processors, has been designed to support common deep learning frameworks including Caffe, Caffe2 and Tensorflow, and also offers support for custom layers, Qualcomm Technologies said in a press release. “The Snapdragon NPE is engineered to provide developers with software tools to accelerate deep neural network workloads on mobile and other edge devices powered by Snapdragon processors,” the company said.

Qualcomm's Neural Processing Engine SDK to Enable Better Optimisation for AIEssentially, with this developer kit, developers will be able to assign particular functionalities to different parts of the chipset. They will be able to allocate tasks to the CPU, GPU, or DSP to achieve the desired performance in any aspect. “Developers can take advantage of deep learning user experiences like style transfers and filters (augmented reality), scene detection, facial recognition, natural language understanding, object tracking and avoidance, gesturing, and text recognition to name a few,” Qualcomm said.

Giving an example of the Facebook app, Qualcomm said that the company integrated NPE into the camera inside the app to accelerate Caffe2-powered augmented reality features. The company says that with the NPE, the app can achieve 5x better performance on the Adreno GPU, compared to a generic CPU implementation. “The result is a more fluid, seamless and realistic application of AR features when capturing photos and live videos,” it said.

The Neural Processing Engine SDK includes runtime software, libraries, APIs, offline model conversion tools, sample code, documentation, and debugging and benchmarking tools, Qualcomm said.

Vivo India Says Greater Noida Unit Layoffs Part of Right-Sizing Operations

Vivo India on Wednesday said that the layoffs at its manufacturing unit in Greater Noida are in line with the company’s business decision.

Reacting to earlier media reports, the China-based smartphone maker said: “We look at staffing the right size in various divisions to improve productivity. The layoff is in line with this business decision.”

“We have strictly adhered to the rules and regulations and the contract, and are taking all the right measures to ensure a peaceful transition keeping their best interests in consideration,” Vivo India said in a statement.

Media reports on Tuesday said employees from Vivo India’s Greater Noida unit were laid off without any prior notice.

Vivo India Says Greater Noida Unit Layoffs Part of Right-Sizing OperationsThey were asked to wind up their work and leave post lunch as there was not enough work from them, the reports added.

The move led to a scuffle between the sacked employees with the security guards on Tuesday. There were reports that office property was damaged as well.

Vivo recently extended the title sponsorship contract with the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament by five more years.

Besides the IPL, the mobile company also has acquired the rights of becoming the title sponsors of the Pro-Kabaddi League for a period of five years. The deal was announced in May 2017 and it is valued at Rs. 300 crores.

Huawei Leads China’s Smartphone Market as Xiaomi Pips Apple: Canalys

Domestic smartphone shipments have fallen by 3 percent to 11 million in the second quarter of this year after six consecutive quarters of growth, with Huawei leading the market, shipping over 23 million smartphones, new research said on Wednesday.

According to a survey conducted by global market research firm Canalys, Oppo had to settle for second place with just over 21 million, despite growing 37 percent year on year. This was followed by Vivo that shipped just over 16 million.

In fourth place, Xiaomi with a shipment of under 15 million smartphones overtook Apple.

“Xiaomi still offers the best value in the Chinese market and it remains the preferred choice for price-conscious consumers. The online channel continues to be a key route to market for Xiaomi and this quarter saw it take the lead in the 618 online sales events across online retail platforms,” said Lucio Chen, Canalys Research Analyst, in a statement.

According to Lucio, Redmi has had strong uptake in the mid-tier, going head to head with Oppo’s A series and Vivo’s Y series.

Huawei Leads China's Smartphone Market as Xiaomi Pips Apple: Canalys“Xiaomi’s growing network of ‘experience stores’ will pose a threat to Oppo’s and Vivo’s offline dominance, while showcasing the design and build quality of its devices,” he added.

The rest of the top ten, including Apple, Samsung, and Meizu, all suffered annual shipment declines this quarter.

“China’s smartphone market continues to consolidate. The top five brands accounted for almost three quarters of shipments, with the top four all growing and adding 10 percent to their cumulative share compared with the same quarter a year ago,” said Hattie He, Canalys Research Analyst.

The report pointed out that Huawei and Xiaomi have strong online brands, and are now rapidly growing their offline channels.

Oppo and Vivo face greater pressure on their mid-range from Redmi and Honor. The failure to establish online channels will slow the momentum of these rising stars.

Nokia 3310 (2017) 3G Variant Spotted on Certification Site

While we wait for HMD Global to unveil the Nokia 8 next month, we’ve got two more Nokia-related stories for you in the meantime. A recent US FCC certification hints that you may just see a 3G variant of the recently revamped Nokia 3310 (2017) alongside the launch of the Nokia 8. Meanwhile, the Silver colour variant of the Nokia 6 is once again available for pre-orders in the US after going out of stock.

The Nokia 3310 (2017)(Review) was launched by HMD Global as a way to pay rekindle our love for the Nokia brand. Keeping the nostalgia associated with the classic 3310 aside, working with a feature phone with 2G connectivity in this day and age can wear out even the most patient of us. This is perhaps why HMD Global is working on a 3G-supported Nokia 3310, according to an US FCC certification of the phone with model designation TA-1036, spotted by NokiaPowerUser. Note that the current Nokia 3310 (2017) goes by TA-1030. The size specifications revealed by FCC hints at a 3G Nokia 3310 (2017) going by the height and width.

nokia 3310 3g certification npu nokia

The certification also reveals the 2G/3G bands that it will support in the US:

GSM850: 824.2 MHz – 848.8 MHz

GSM1900: 1850.2 MHz – 1909.8 MHz

WCDMA Band II: 1852.4 MHz – 1907.6 MHz

WCDMA Band V: 826.4 MHz – 846.6 MHz

Meanwhile, the Silver colour variant of the Nokia 6, which went on sale in the US earlier this month, is now back and up for pre-orders in the country via Amazon. The phone was launched in the US in Black, Silver, Copper and Blue, but the Silver variant in particular went out of stock soon after. The Amazon Prime-exclusive model (that comes with lock screen ads) will start shipping from August 18, while the non-Prime variant will ship within 1-3 weeks.

LG G6 Leaked Live Image Hints at Dual-Camera, Shiny Back, and More

LG’s rumoured G6 flagship smartphone has been spotted again in a live image indicating shiny black rear panel presence and more. The upcoming LG G6 previously has been leaked multiple times in the past, suggesting the design of the upcoming smartphone. Now Business Insider has shared an image which is claimed to be the “near-final version” of the LG G6 smartphone.

The new leaked live image only shows the rear panel but most importantly confirms earlier claims of dual-camera present at the back alongside the fingerprint scanner. One of the most notable things given away by the new image is the shiny black rear on the G6 which may be a limited edition variant of LG flagship being launched to counter the Jet Black variant of the new iPhone 7. The new leaked image also shows the G6 branding at the back of the handset.

lg g6 leak business insider LG

Photo Credit: Business Insider

Business Insider also speculates that the dual-camera on the G6 may be used to “recreate the blurry background bokeh effect”, similar to iPhone 7 Plus.

LG’s much-anticipated G6 flagship smartphone is expected to be unveiled at the company’s February 26 event just ahead of MWC 2017 in Barcelona. The event will begin on February 26 at 4.30pm IST (12.00pm CET).

Based on preliminary leaks, the LG G6 will sport a 5.7-inch display – which was shown off by LG Display last month – and will boast of an unusual aspect ratio of 2:1. A recent report said that G6 flagship will be the only other non-Pixel smartphone to feature Google Assistant out-of-the-box. The G6 is widely expected to come with waterproofing capability and this is said to be one of the reasons why LG’s next flagship will ditch the removable battery to give way to water resistance. LG is also rumoured to come with dated Snapdragon 821 processor as Samsung has reportedly first dibs on the latest Snapdragon 835 processor.

Moto G5 Release Date Rumoured to Be Shortly After Launch at MWC 2017

Moto G5, one of the two Moto handsets rumoured to debut at MWC 2017 in Barcelona later this month, is said to go on sale shortly after its launch. The latest leak on the matter says that the Moto G5 will be released in the UK from the first week of March itself.

Moto G5 Release Date Rumoured to Be Shortly After Launch at MWC 2017

This comes from Roland Quandt of who shared a listing on Twitter showing Moto G5 availability as per an e-commerce website in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no word on the availability of the Moto G5 Plus at the moment.

The Moto G5 is expected to be launched in Gold and Grey colours and come with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of inbuilt storage. The online retailer is said to be Clove, based in the UK.

Based on preliminary leaks, the Moto G5 is said to pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. The handset is likely to come with 32GB of storage while is expected to support microSD card (up to 128GB) expansion. The new Moto G5 leak, however, hints at a basic 16GB variant as well. The Moto G5 is rumoured to sport a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display and sport 13-megapixel rear camera. The handset is said to pack a 5-megapixel front camera and is expected to be backed by a 2800mAh battery.

The Moto G5 Plus, on the other hand, is said to feature a 5.5-inch full-HD display with a pixel density of 403ppi, and is said to come powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor. The handset is further rumoured to pack 4GB of RAM and come with 32GB storage. It is expected to run on Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box. For the camera, the smartphone is said to sport a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.

Lenovo is widely expected to unveil the rumoured Moto G5 alongside Moto G5 Plus smartphones at the company’s February 26 event at the side-lines of MWC 2017 in Barcelona.