It’s time again for a roundup of all the Android-related news including new smartphone releases (the Nexus 5 is here!), OS updates, app news, and network carrier news in India during October 2013. As always, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started!
Sony Xperia C officially launched
In an effort to to compete better in the surging and highly-competitive Indian smartphone market, Sony has released its first smartphone, the Xperia C featuring a quad-core MediaTek processor, which is favored by most Indian manufacturers for their budget-friendly smartphones. After being up for pre-order from a few online stores, the device was officially launched by Sony for Rs 21,490. First, let’s take a quick look at the specifications of the device –
- 5-inch display with 960×540 resolution
- 1.2 Ghz quad-core MediaTek MT6589 processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 4 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 8 MP rear camera, 0.3 MP front camera
- 2,390 mAh battery
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- dual-SIM support
Even though the Xperia C is more expensive than similar devices from Indian manufacturers, Sony’s brand recognition may be enough for this smartphone to be popular in the Indian market. Officially priced at Rs 21,490, the Sony Xperia C is available from online retailers Flipkart for Rs 20,429.
Spice Mobile announces Pinnacle Stylus Mi-550
Spice Mobile launched the Pinnacle Stylus Mi-550 earlier this month, which, as the name suggests, is bundled with a stylus, in a effort to provide a low-cost alternative to the very popular Samsung Galaxy Note series of smartphones. The specifications of the Pinnacle Stylus Mi-550 include –
- 5.5-inch display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.2 Ghz quad-core processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 4 GB internal storage expandable via microSD
- 8 MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 2 MP front camera
- 2,500 mAh battery
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- dual-SIM support
Also included with a smartphone is a free one year subscription to Evernote Premium and a free flip cover, and is available for just Rs 15,499 from online stores Saholic and Flipkart, as well has from various Spice AndroidLand stores around the country.
Xolo Q700i and Xolo Q900 now available in India
Xolo has been busy this month, with a new tablet release (see below) as well as two smartphone launches, the Q700i and the Q900.
While the Q700i, a refresh of the Xolo Q700 released earlier this year, features a 4.5-inch IPS display with 960×540 resolution, the more expensive Q900 boasts a 4.7-inch IPS display with 1280×720 resolution. All other specifications are similar, with both devices powerred by a 1.2 Ghz quad-core MediaTek 6589 processor with PowerVR SGX 544 GPU and 1GB RAM. Both also feature an 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera. Surprisingly, the Q700i includes a bigger 2,400 mAh battery, compared to the 1,800 mAh one in the Q900. Both smartphones run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The Xolo Q900 is priced at Rs 12,999, while the Xolo Q700i is available Rs 11,699 from Flipkart.
Micromax ropes in Hugh Jackman as brand ambassador, launches Canvas Turbo and Canvas Magnus
The biggest news this month was Micromax bringing in Hugh Jackman to be the brand ambassador for the rising Indian manufacturer, with the first smartphone to be advertised by him being the Micromax Canvas Turbo A250.
The Micromax Canvas Turbo has a lot to boast about, with specifications that include a 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution (another first for Micromax), a 1.5 Ghz quad-core MediaTek MT6589T processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage, 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front camera, 2,000 mAh battery, and running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The Canvas Turbo also features multi-window view, pop-up video view, smart gestures, blow to unlock, and iFloat, a new feature which is as assistive touch button that remains on-screen all the time and lets you access key features of smartphone, allowing you to handle calls and messages, email, and more while using any application. Apart from great features and specifications, the Micromax Canvas Turbo also boasts a full aluminium body design and great design aesthetics.
Amid the hype surrounding the Canvas Turbo, the company also quietly launched the Canvas Magnus A117, another 5-inch display smartphone which borrows a lot of its design cues from the Canvas Turbo, but doesn’t feature specifications that are as good. The Micromax Canvas Magnus has a 5-inch IPS display with a 1280×720 resolution. It is powered by the same 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor, but with 1 GB of RAM. Internal storage available is just 4 GB, but is expandable via microSD. The device also sports a 12 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera, and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Zen Ultrafone Amaze 701 FHD launched
Micromax wasn’t the only company to launch a smartphone with a 1080p display in October, with Zen also jumping on the Full HD train with the Ultrafone Amaze 701 FHD. Other specifications of the Ultrafone Amaze include –
- 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution
- 1.5 Ghz quad-core MediaTek processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 16 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
- 2,050 mAh battery
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Apart from the RAM, the specifications of the Zen Ultrafone Amaze 701 FHD are quite similar to the Canvas Turbo, but is available at a cheaper Rs 17,999 from Snapdeal.
Nexus 5 listed on Indian Google Play Store
After what felt like months of waiting, the Google Nexus 5 has finally been launched and unlike what happened with the Nexus 4, the latest Google flagship will be available in India quite soon after the official announcement. In fact, the Nexus 5 is already listed, albeit with a Coming Soon tag, on the Indian Google Play Store. First, here is a recap of the specifications of the Nexus 5 –
- 4.95-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution
- 2.3 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
- Adreno 330 GPU
- 2 GB RAM
- 16/32 GB internal storage
- 8 MP rear camera with OIS (optical image stabilization), 1.3 MP front camera
- 2,300 mAh battery
- Android 4.4 Kitkat
Apart from boasting amazing specifications at a great price point, the Nexus 5 will also be the first device to feature the latest flavor of the OS, Android 4.4 Kitkat.
The Nexus 5 will be available soon from the Indian Google Play Store for Rs 28,999 for the 16 GB version, and Rs 32,999 for the 32 GB version.
Xolo Play Tab 7.0 launched
While we are eagerly awaiting the launch of the Xolo Tegra Note tablet, which will boast the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and OS updates directly from Nvidia, Xolo has launched another 7-inch tablet, the Xolo Play Tab 7.0, which is powered by the older, but quite powerful, quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.
The Xolo Play Tab 7.0 features specifications that are very similar to the Nexus 7 (2012), with The Xolo Play Tab 7.0 a 7-inch 1,280×800 resolution IPS display, a 1.2 Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB RAM, 8GB of internal memory with a microSD card, expansion, 2 MP front camera, and a 4,000 mAh battery, and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
The Xolo Play Tab 7.0 is available for Rs 12,999 from online retailers Flipkart.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) officially available in India
First showcased at IFA 2013 in Berlin, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is now officially available in India. First, let’s take a look at the specifications of the latest high-end tablet offering from Samsung –
- 10.1-inch Super clear LCD display with 2560×1600 resolution
- 1.9GHz octa-core processor (3G/ Wi-Fi version) and a 2.3GHz quad-core processor (LTE version)
- 3GB of RAM
- 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
- 2-megapixel front-facing camera
- 8220mAh battery
- 16GB/ 32GB/ 64GB internal storage
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
- S Pen stylus
Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Note 10.1 features a plastic back with a leather-like feel, and the signature stylus of the Note series. To find out more about the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), don’t forget to check out our hands-on review of the tablet here –
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is priced at a steep Rs 49,990 on the Samsung India eStore, which also includes Rs 1,200 worth of movie tickets from Book My Show.
Android OS updates
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update available for HTC One X, One X+, and Butterfly
HTC is rolled out the official Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update to the One X, One X+, and Butterfly in India. While the One X and One X+ were launched in India last year, the Butterfly was released only earlier this year. Along with the not-so-new version of Android, the significant update comes in the form of the UI overlay, HTC Sense 5.
One of the key highlights of the Sense 5 UI is the addition of BlinkFeed, a home-screen news aggregator, a feature that was first seen with the launch of the HTC One. Other features include Video Highlights and a new quick settings menu, similar to what can be found on stock Android 4.2. Lock-screen widgets and Android Daydream is also now available with this update.
If you haven’t received the OTA update notification yet, you can also try going to Settings, About Phone, and Software Updates to try it out.
Samsung Galaxy S4 receives update to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in India
During the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear in India a couple of months back, it was mentioned that other high-end Samsung smartphones would be receiving an official update to Android 4.3 soon. This update is now rolling out in India for the Samsung Galaxy S4, which along with the updated OS version, brings compatibility for the smartphone with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
Along with Gear support, the 685 MB update brings an improved UI, multimedia functions, and Knox security services, along with performance improvements in RAM management, display color reproduction and graphics, and overall stability improvements.
The update will be available over the air, but can also be download via the Samsung Kies desktop application.
Network Carrier News
Airtel and Idea increase international calling rates, others expected to follow
Network carriers like Airtel and Idea have increased their international calling rates by as much as 25%, and in some cases even higher. Depending on the area code, calling rates to the US has increased to Rs 8 per minute, from Rs 6.4 per minute, with similar increases to all countries.
Some increases are quite steep as well. For example, calls on the Airtel network to Australia on ISD codes like 6113 and 6114 feature an 80% hike, up from Rs 100 to Rs 180. Luckily, most of the revised rates don’t see such a significant increase.
While Airtel and Idea were the first to make the change, other network operators are expected to follow suit.
Airtel postpaid customers can now create their own tariff plans
Bharti Airtel is giving its postpaid customers the option to customize their plans as per their usage and requirements. Called MyPlan, a customer can tailor-make their plan in three simple steps.
For example, a subscriber can choose from five rental pack options, starting from Rs 199, and up to Rs 999. Each rental option will include the ability to pick a fixed number of MyPack units. MyPacks include different choices such as 40 national roaming minutes, 100 local minutes, 135 MB of 3G data, 200 SMS, international calling minutes, and more. So, if you go for the Rs 299 rental option, you will get 8 units of MyPack. If you want more national roaming minutes, you can use six of those units for the national roaming MyPack, giving you 240 minutes of national roaming talk time.
You can check out the table below for an easier understanding of how to create your own Airtel tariff plan. You’ll need to visit your nearest Airtel store to activate or subscribe to MyPlan.