Multiple rumours suggest that Reliance Jio will unveil an affordable Lyf-branded feature phone with advanced functionality at its upcoming AGM next week. Now, more details and even photos of the purported Jio 4G VoLTE phone have popped up online. For starters, the feature phone will of course be 4G-capable and support VoLTE, but it will also shown to support dual SIM cards and tethering, allowing it to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Lyf-branded Reliance Jio 4G feature phone is also tipped to have a 2.4-inch colour screen, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 2-megapixel rear camera and VGA front camera for video calling. The battery capacity is supposedly 2000mAh, but details of the processor are unknown, except that it could be a dual-core model clocked at 1.2GHz.
The rumoured 4G VoLTE Jio feature phone’s operating system is reportedly going to be a custom version of the HTML5-based FirefoxOS called KaiOS, and there will be an app store called KaiOS Plus. The most ambitious feature would be an integrated voice assistant which supports Indian languages. Reliance Jio apps including Jio TV, Jio Cinema, Jio Music and MyJio will apparently be supported.
With an affordable feature phone, Reliance Jio could target millions of Indian 2G and 3G users who cannot afford smartphones. Previous rumours have suggested that the company will also roll out new tariff plans to suit feature phone users.
In related news, investigations into the leak of Reliance Jio’s user database continue. A resident of Sujangarh in Rajasthan, said to be a college computer science dropout, has been arrested. He is in the custody of the Navi Mumbai Police, which is working with the Maharashtra Cyber Cell. Books about hacking as well as computer hardware including a desktop, laptop and pen drive, have been seized from the man. Authorities are treating this as a case of unauthorised access rather than data theft. The data is said to include Jio subscribers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses and alternate contact numbers, as well as the dates on which they activated their Jio SIMs, but not any Aadhaar details or PAN numbers.
Nokia 6 launch date announced, EMI offer for Nokia 3 buyers
HMD Global, the company promoting the resurgent Nokia brand, has announced that the Nokia 6 smartphone will go on sale in India on August 23. It will be available only on Amazon India, and interested buyers will have to register in advance. The Nokia 6 price in India is of course Rs. 14,999, making it the most premium of three Android smartphones phones launched by the company. Amazon is offering Prime members Rs. 1000 cash back if they use Amazon Pay to buy the Nokia 6, and Vodafone users will get 10GB of data at a reduced price of just Rs. 249 per month for five months. Buyers will also get discounts on Amazon Kindle ebooks and Makemytrip.com.
Meanwhile, those interested in buying the new Nokia 3 can now benefit from interest-free credit schemes offered by Home Credit India Finance in partnership with HMD global. The Nokia 3 is only available offline, and costs Rs. 9,499. Customers will be able to get zero-percent EMIs with flexible down payment options, and can repay their credit over six or seven months. The Nokia 3 is the most affordable of Nokia’s three comeback devices, and this will help the company reach many more potential buyers.
Alleged Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 specifications leak
Tipsters online have posted information about a purported Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 device, said to launch later this year. The Redmi Note 5 is said to also come in three versions, differing only in amounts of RAM and storage – one with 3GB/16GB, one with 3GB/32GB, and one with 4GB/64GB. Prices are said to start at CNY 859 (approximately Rs. 8,000). The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is also expected to have a 5-inch full-HD screen, 16-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and 3680mAh battery, and run MIUI 9.0 based on Android 7.1.1.
WhatsApp for Android gets multiformat file transfers, media bundling
The latest new feature to be added to WhatsApp is the ability to send and receive files of any type. After receiving the update, WhatsApp users on Android will be able to select any file to send it to someone else. The update also brings text formatting and media bundling. Users can long-press on text typed into the message window to apply bold, italic, underline and strikethrough styles. When sending multiple photos in a WhatsApp chat, they will appear as a bundle rather than individual messages one after another. Users can then open all the photos on a single page and scroll between them.
New ransomware uses private photos and messages for blackmail
Another ransomware attack is targeting Android users, and this time the stakes are higher than just losing important data. Rather than encrypting data and demanding a ransom to unlock it, the new LeakerLocker threatens to send photos and messages as well as your Web browser history from your phone to people in your contact list unless victims pay up. The potential for embarrassment and is enormous, and of course people store all kinds of private information on their phones. The malware has spread through two malicious apps in the Google Play store which have collectively been downloaded up to 15,000 times.
YouTube video thumbnails now animated
YouTube has animated the video thumbnails on its desktop website, and users can see quick three-second previews of each video by hovering their mouse cursors over them. The previews will be extracted from the first half of each video, and creators currently have no control over what is shown to site users. The feature only works on Chrome and Firefox for now. The three-second duration was chosen by YouTube as a balance between showing users what to expect and not giving too much away.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 photo possibly tweeted by mistake
Samsung’s Exynos processor division might have leaked a photo of the upcoming Galaxy Note 8. A promotional tweet about the Exynos 8895 SoC shows the front face of a device which looks nothing like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are the only phones that currently use it but does resemble devices seen in previous leaks. It is possible that the image is of a prototype, but it could also be just a stock or generic reference image. Rumoured to be releasing in September, the Galaxy Note 8 is bound to be scrutinized heavily because of the catastrophic failure of last year’s Galaxy Note 7.
Speaking of which, an iFixit teardown reveals that the reborn Galaxy Note 7 “Fan Edition” phone which went on sale in South Korea last week is identical to the original Galaxy Note 7 except that it has a physically smaller battery. Samsung’s investigations into the Galaxy Note 7 debacle revealed that they caught on fire as a result of defective batteries which also had insufficient space to expand when hot. There are no changes to any other components. The move could be a way for Samsung to turn some of its ill-fated stock into saleable merchandise, and the model could be launched in other parts of the world. Hopefully, nobody who buys one will try taking it through airport security.
Google Pixel XL 2 said to have ambient display
Anticipation is building to the launch of Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2, and new rumours seem to indicate that at least the larger of the two will have an always-on ambient display, multiple display colour modes, and a squeeze gesture to trigger Google Assistant. The always-on display is said to work similarly to how Samsung’s high-end models currently work, showing notifications and other information while the phone is in standby. The phone’s frame is rumoured to be squeezable, and that this will be used as a shortcut to bring up Google Assistant or perform other actions like muting an incoming call. The phone could also have a 6-inch Amoled screen with a taller 2:1 aspect ratio.
Amazon India rolling out Local Finds feature
Amazon India seems to have introduced a feature called Local Finds which is designed to help users sell their own belongings to others in the same city. Some users have reported receiving notifications alerting them to the new feature, but it appears that it has not rolled out to all users yet. There are ten categories in which new and used goods can be listed for sale or searched for, including books, phones, video games, clothing, and jewellery. Sellers have to enter information, upload photos, and provide their contact details. Listings show the condition of items, and buyers can decide whether to pick them up new or use the Local Find listing.
India now has over 1.2 billion telecom subscribers
Telecom regulator TRAI has announced that the telecom subscriber base in India has crossed 1.2 billion. The figure accounts for wired and wireless phone as well as Internet connections. The monthly growth rate for telephone subscribers was 0.51 percent, resulting in an increase from 1,198.89 million at the end of April 2017 to 1,204.98 million at the end of May 2017. Reliance Jio led the growth, followed by Bharati Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular. However, Tata Teleservices, Telenor, Sistema Shyam and MTNL all lost subscribers. BSNL is reported to have lost 0.13 million landline subscribers in the same period.
Vertu said to be shutting down
Luxury phone maker Vertu is said to be on the verge of shutting down. Creditors have reportedly rejected an offer by new owner Hakan Uzan to repay the company’s debt, which doesn’t leave it with any option. This will impact existing Vertu users, since the company’s concierge service will have to shut down as well. Vertu-branded devices might still be produced through licensing deals, as Uzan owns the rights to the company’s technology and designs. Vertu phones have rarely offered the latest technology, instead relying on luxury materials to attract wealthy buyers.