Weekly News Roundup #10 – India
Note: Due to unavoidable circumstances, there was no Indian weekly news roundup last week. Today’s feature will include top news from the previous week as well.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the mobile world in India. India has now taken over from Japan as the third largest smartphone market in the world! We have a few new smartphones to look at, some app updates, and as mentioned before, the much-needed national roaming plans from various network providers. As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about. Let’s get started!
Videocon A55HD quad-core smartphone launched at Rs 13,499
Videocon has decided to jump into the budget-friendly quad-core smartphone arena with the launch of the Videocon A55HD, which boasts a 5-inch 720p display and Android 4.2 on-board. The specifications of the Videocon A55HD include –
- 5-inch IPS LCD display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
- 8MP rear camera, 3.2MP front camera
- 2,000 mAh battery
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
There are numerous smartphones from other local manufacturers with very similar specifications, but by being priced at Rs 13,499 (~$236), the Videocon A55HD is ever so slightly cheaper than the rest, giving this device a minor advantage. That being said, companies like Micromax, Spice, and Xolo market their products aggressively, so that is something Videocon will have to do as well, to compete effectively in the over-crowded Indian market.
Source – IBN Live
Karbonn Titanium S9 launched days before the highly-anticipated Micromax Canvas 4
It’s no secret that the rivalry between smartphone manufacturers is intense, none more so in India where local manufacturers are giving their all to capture a piece of the diverse, and very lucrative, market. Micromax has been advertising their latest upcoming product that is releasing tomorrow, the Canvas 4, all over social media. So it’s not really surprising that rivals Karbonn, have released what is expected to a similar product, only a few days before the highly-anticipated launch, with the launch of the Karbonn Titanium S9.
Before we get into how this competition might shape up, let’s take a quick look at the specifications of the Karbonn Titanium S9 –
- 5.5-inch IPS display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
- 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
- 2,600 mAh battery
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- Dual-SIM support
Other than taking on Micromax, Karbonn is also providing a cheaper alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (let’s be honest, it does look alike) as well, with the Titanium S9. While there is very little information available about the Canvas 4, we can look forward to a similar, if not in some ways better, product from Micromax, at a similar price range, and it’ll certainly be very interesting to see how this competition plays out. The Karbonn Titanium S9 is available for Rs 19,990. (~$350).
Source – NDTV Gadgets
LG Optimus G Pro officially released in India
Talking about viable alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, another amazing smartphone boasting a beautiful 1080p 5.5-inch display has finally made its way to Indian shores. First unveiled during MWC 2013, the LG Optimus G Pro has now been officially launched in India. Here’s a quick look at the specifications –
- 5.5-inch 1080p resolution
- 1.7 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
- 13MP rear camera and 2.1MP front camera
- 3,140 mAh battery
- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Premium specifications means a price to match, the things are no different with the LG Optimus G Pro, which will set you back a whopping Rs 42,500 (~$745). While slightly higher than other competing flagships such as the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S4, the difference is definitely worth it if you’re looking for a smartphone with a larger display.
Source – IBN Live
Samsung begins buyback scheme on the Samsung Galaxy S4, discounts up to Rs 5,000, plus a lot more, now available
The flagship smartphone wars are a lot closer this year, and Samsung hasn’t enjoyed the same runaway success it did last year with the Galaxy S3. Of course, marketing is the company’s forte, and Samsung is leaving no stone unturned to continue its upward climb. In India, Samsung is now offering a buyback scheme which will get you a rebate of Rs 5,000 on the Galaxy S4 when you bring in your old smartphone, effectively reducing the price of the device to Rs 36,500 from Rs 41,500.
That’s not all! In addition, you also get an S-View flip cover, worth Rs 2,499, absolutely free, along with one free display replacement (worth Rs 7000). Not Enough? Then the free 12,000 coins (worth Rs 12,000) that is available to use with the MyServices app for movie streaming, games, live TV, and songs, will definitely interest you. Along with Samsung Galaxy S4-specific Vodafone all-in-one plans that promise savings up to Rs 12,000, the buyback scheme boasts a value addition package worth up to Rs 41,749!
The list of smartphones eligible for the buyback scheme include all Apple, Blackberry, and HTC devices, and the Sony Xperia Ion. If you are a Nokia user hoping to make the switch over to Android, you can bring in your Lumia 710, Lumia 610, Lumia 510, and Lumia 800 to do so. A lot of other Nokia devices are also included, such as the Asha 311, 300, 302, and 303, and the Nokia C5-05, C5, C5-03, E5, 500, 5233, N8, X3-02, C6, and C3. Local brands haven’t been left out either, with the Karbonn A9 and A21, and the Micromax Canvas A110, A75, A100, A87, Ninja 4, and A73. Of course, if you’d like to stay in the Samsung family, Samsung devices such as all Galaxy (expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 2), Wave, and Omnia smartphones are also eligible for the discount.
Of course, this is excluding the zero interest EMI schemes available for all Samsung products. As you can see, Samsung is definitely going all out in their effort to maintain the number one position in the Android world.
If you’re still undecided, don’t forget to take a look at our hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 here –
Source – IB Times
Cleartrip for Android adds support for train bookings
The Cleartrip for Android app so far allowed users to book domestic and international flight tickets. Now updated to version 3.0, the app allows you to book tickets for Indian Railways as well. You can now search for Indian Railways trains, find trains between stations, check seat availability, train fares, and book train tickets. By linking your IRCTC account to your Cleartrip account, you will also be able to check the status of wait-listed tickets from inside the app.
While the idea behind the update is great, a lot of user reviews and comments suggest that the new features aren’t working too well, with users complaining of syncing between the IRCTC and Cleartrip accounts not working, user profiles and passenger information not being saved, and in some cases, the app crashing, so do keep these issues in mind before trying it out. Hopefully a quick update will follow that will sort all these issues out.
Source – Google Play Store (Cleartrip)
MapMyIndia introduces “Locate,” a new Android app to track people
MapMyIndia, one of India’s premier GPS services, has now introduced an app called “Locate,” which will help you identify, locate, and stay connected with friends and family with ease. Features of the people-tracking app include –
- Add up to 3 people from you contact list or via email
- Once your request is approved, you can track your friend or family’s movement live on an interactive map as they check-in
- Locations are automatically updated without draining phone battery even if users don’t manually check-in
- Location is cached locally when phone does not have GPRS connectivity. It is updated as soon as data connection is back
- See historical movement reports up to five days with full address mapping
- Your own movement reports are provided by default
- All reports are accessible via a web dashboard as well at http://locate.mapmyindia.com
Locate uses GPS, Wi-Fi and Cell Tower Triangulation as available to get location. Of course, the obvious privacy concerns do come up, but the app does some to give the “trackees” some sort of protection. First of all, a person cannot track you without your own approval of their request. Secondly, the person being tracked can specify particular days and time during which they can be “seen.”
The MapMyIndia Locate app is now available for free from the Google Play Store here.
Source – Google Play Store (Locate)
Network Carrier News
Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea introduce new national roaming packs
Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular announced new national roaming packages and plans, just a few days after TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) allowed network providers the chance to provide subscribers with free national roaming using special combo packs. Here are the details –
- Airtel prepaid subscribers can avail a Rs 5 per day plan or a Rs 79 per month plan, with both featuring free incoming calls while roaming. Outgoing calls are charged at 1.5p per second while roaming as well as in your home circle. Postpaid subscribers can receive the same benefits at a cost of Rs 75 per month.
- Idea Cellular has introduced two vouchers priced between Rs 230-240, and another priced between Rs 35-40, with a varying price in that range in different circles.There is a 75p per minute for incoming calls on roaming under cheaper voucher, with incoming calls being free only for subscribers who avail the Rs 230-240 plan. Unlike the Airtel plans, both plans feature a validity of up to 6 months.
- The Vodafone roaming packs are similar to those available from Airtel, with a Rs 5 per day plan available with the same benefits. The monthly plan from Vodafone is slightly cheaper at Rs 71 per month. Postpaid customers can enjoy free incoming calls while roaming for Rs 75.
It’s important to note that Aircel had introduced its “India One” plans a while back, and it’s good to see other network providers joining the bandwagon as well.
Source – Money Control