HTC One M9e With MediaTek Helio X10 SoC, 2GB RAM Launched

HTC has launched a new variant of its 2015 flagship smartphone dubbed One M9e in China. Priced at CNY 2,700 (approximately Rs. 27,650), the smartphone is now available via an e-commerce website in China.

Notably, the Chinese Tmall online retailer in its listing incorrectly refers to the HTC One M9e as One M9 several times. The One M9e, as seen in earlier leaks, features a design reminiscent of the HTC One M9. Unfortunately, there is no word whether the handset will be launching in markets outside China.

The HTC One M9e features a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) IPS display. Similar to the HTC One M9+, the One M9e is powered by 2.2GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6795T Helio X10 processor; though the handset features just 2GB of RAM instead of 3GB of RAM as seen in One M9+. The inbuilt storage on the device is 16GB, which is further expandable by a microSD card (up to 2TB).

(Also see: HTC One M9+ Review: Turning Heads and Taking Chances)

There is a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, BSI sensor, OIS (optical image stabilisation), support for 1080p video recording, and a LED flash module. The One M9e features an UltraPixel front camera, much like the One M9+. Running Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sense, the One M9e supports single Nano-SIM.

Connectivity options on the device include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Infrared, DLNA, FM radio, and NFC. The One M9e is backed by a similar 2840mAh non-removable battery as seen on One M9 and One M9+. It measures 144.6×69.7×9.61mm and weighs 157 grams.

The Taiwanese company last month unveiled the HTC One M9+ Supreme Camera, which was almost identical to the One M9+ smartphone but with a few upgrades in the rear camera setup.

The company recently announced that its One A9 currently priced at $399.99 (roughly Rs. 26,000) is a special “promotional pre-sale offer”, which would end by November 7. The Taiwanese company confirmed that once the special price offer is over, the HTC One A9 would then cost $100 more, which is $499.99 (roughly Rs. 32,500) unlocked.


Global Smartphone Sales Pick Up on Fierce Competition

Global smartphone sales gained in the third quarter as major vendors ramped up special deals and financing to attract buyers, a survey showed Wednesday.

A survey by IDC showed global smartphone sales of 355.2 million in the July-September period, up 6.8 percent from a year ago and the second highest quarterly total on record.

Samsung remained the top vendor, delivering 84.5 million handsets or 23.5 percent of the total market, followed by Apple’s 48 million which gave the US firm 13.5 percent.

China’s Huawei cemented its hold on third place with a 7.5 percent market share and 26.5 million units, followed by Chinese rivals Lenovo and Xiaomi, which each captured slightly more than five percent.

IDC analysts said consumers are seeing new buying options including unlocked handsets which can be used on several carriers, and financing plans to pay for the device over time.

Apple this year began these strategies to entice buyers for its high-end iPhones.

“The vendor landscape and product offerings are really unique at the moment as many markets are seeing consumers become more aware of alternative buying options when it comes to paying for their smartphone,” said IDC’s Ryan Reith.

“In mature and subsidized markets, we now have a wide range of operators offering equipment installation plans), as well as early trade-in options. At the same time the number of unlocked/off-contract offerings has increased significantly and it’s slowly starting to resonate with consumers.”

IDC said there is intense competition at the high end between Apple and Samsung, each of which introduced new models this year, as well as in the budget range.

“The third quarter placed a substantial emphasis on flagship devices as vendors tried to outclass each other in both features and design,” said IDC research manager Anthony Scarsella.

“New flagship models translated to fiercer competition at the high-end for most players as many will try to challenge both Samsung and Apple for a place among the elite. However, despite the glitz and glamour at the high-end, we still expect the bulk of volume and growth to once again sprout from low to mid-range handsets, particularly in emerging markets.”

The survey showed Huawei as the fastest growing vendor, boosting sales 60.9 percent from last year. The firm’s partnership to produce Google’s Nexus 6P phone “could signal that Huawei is finally ready to seriously compete in the US,” IDC said.

SoftBank Internal Data Tips Smartphone Woes Worse Than Reported

New smartphone subscriptions for SoftBank Group Corp plunged 35 percent at its own stores in Japan’s most populous region in the last business year, according to internal data that paints a far gloomier picture than its published financial results.

The data, from a July presentation for distributors and seen by Reuters, highlights the depth of SoftBank’s pain as intensifying competition hits its domestic mobile unit, which is responsible for the bulk of its operating profit.

Since losing an exclusive deal in Japan to sell Apple Inc’s iPhone four years ago, SoftBank has seen many users switch to other carriers – with losses made worse last year as it dropped hefty cash-back incentives and as smartphones with cheaper service plans gained in popularity, a source familiar with the situation said.

Analysts expect mild profit increases for the unit over the next two years but say much of that will be due to cost cuts. The lack of a strong growth driver could crimp SoftBank’s efforts to revamp US wireless carrier Sprint Corp, they say, adding that the more-than-$20 billion (roughly Rs. 1,30,407 crores) acquisition needs further investment to be competitive.

Compared to rivals, Japan’s third-biggest mobile operator provides only limited sales data to the public and domestic smartphone subscriptions are not broken out separately. Disclosed nationwide figures for new subscriptions for devices, which include a wide range of products from tablets to digital photo frames, showed a milder 10.6 percent decline for the year ended in March.

The 35 percent slide contrasts with an increase in new smartphone subscriptions in the previous year, the July presentation data showed, although an exact figure was not available. But the data did not include new sign-ups at electronic retailers where most customers go and only counts Tokyo and its surrounding regions. It is also separate from handset upgrades.

SoftBank spokesman Takeaki Nukii said he was not able to confirm the 35 percent decline but it seemed sharper than what had been felt in the company. He also said the limited data should not be used as a basis for discussing the overall trend in the company’s smartphone sales and that other data for this business year was upbeat.

But a SoftBank source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the sharp slide shown in the July presentation was broadly similar at electronics retailers and in other parts of the country.

“The decline at electronics retailers might not be quite as steep as at SoftBank shops, but the basic trend is the same,” he said, declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The first source familiar with the situation said while he did not have specific figures for this business year, he did not feel the situation had improved.

SoftBank declined to comment specifically on remarks by sources.

iPhone dependent
After criticism of the way it collates its subscription data, SoftBank changed its disclosure practices this financial year, creating a new category of “main subscribers” which includes smartphones, flip cellphones and tablets but excludes items such as digital photo frames.

April-June data for main subscribers showed net additions – new customers minus cancellations – growing by just 20,000. Similar categories for NTT Docomo Inc showed growth of 940,000 while KDDI Corp had growth of 520,000.

Docomo was benefiting as phones offered by cheaper mobile virtual network operators were mostly linked to its network while KDDI has the edge in marketing, said Hideaki Tanaka, analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

“In terms of net additions, SoftBank’s struggles are only going to continue,” he said.

SoftBank’s Nukii pointed to figures from research firm BCN that show SoftBank’s sales for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. In the 10 days after their launch last month, SoftBank held 42 percent market share for those two models compared with 36 percent for KDDI and 21 percent for Docomo.

Once SoftBank’s grip on iPhones in Japan was its greatest strength but it is now seen as too dependent on the products, which accounted for 80 percent of its smartphone sales according to material presented to distributors.

The three-year exclusive deal with Apple inked nearly a decade ago helped SoftBank transform itself into a serious rival to Docomo and KDDI, but KDDI gained the rights to sell iPhones in 2011, followed by Docomo two years later.

In a nearly saturated market, contracts are virtually indistinguishable across networks and incentives often benefit customers who jump ship to another carrier.

The industry outlook could also worsen for Japanese mobile operators in general after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for cheaper cellphone rates last month.

Oppo Neo 7 With 4G Support, 8-Megapixel Camera Launched

Oppo has launched its newly unveiled Neo 7 smartphone in India, priced at Rs. 9,990. It will be available in Black and White colour variants.

Running Android 5.1 Lollipop with the company’s custom ColorOS 2.1 skin on top, the Oppo Neo 7features a 5-inch qHD (540×960 pixels) TFT display. The smartphone is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) processor clocked at 1.2GHz coupled with Adreno 306 and 1GB of RAM.

The Oppo Neo 7 bears 16GB of inbuilt storage, and supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB).

For camera, the Neo 7 sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with flash and also came with 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It supports dual-SIM cards with one Micro-SIM and another Nano-SIM. Apart from support for Indian 4G LTE bands, connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro-USB, 3G, and GPS.

The Oppo Neo 7 packs a 2420mAh non-removable battery. It measures 142.7×71.7×7.55mm and weighs 141 grams.

The Neo 7’s screen lights up to brighten selfies in low light condition which is possible with a light-sensitive sensor that can adjust the screen brightness according to available light.

The Oppo Neo 7 can be compared to the Xolo Black 1X, which was also launched on Wednesday and is priced at Rs. 9,999. The Black 1X also offers 4G connectivity, but features a higher-resolution 5-inch full-HD display, a more capable octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of built-in storage.

PuzzlePhone Modular Smartphone Goes Live on Indiegogo Next Month

Modular smartphones are incredibly enticing. Just the idea of being able to swap the internal components and, as a result, keep the handset new and well-performing have many users excited. We now have a new contender in this race, and it needs your help. Finnish company Circular Devices says that it will put its modular handset called PuzzlePhone on crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo on November 3, and promises to ship the handset in the second half of 2016, provided it gets the funding.

Unlike the Fairphone 2, and Google’s Project Ara, the PuzzlePhone doesn’t offer as much customisation, however. It consists of three modules: brain (consisting of electronics), spine (display panel and frame), and heart (battery). At the time of launch, users will be able to purchase the handset with all the requisite internals, as well as purchase extra components.

The company says that it is hopeful that its handset will attract users and it will be able to raise money for the production of the PuzzlePhone. The company has set EUR 599 (roughly Rs. 43,200) as the final retail price of the handset, but early backers will be able to reserve their units for as little as EUR 299 (roughly Rs. 21,600) for the first 250 units, and EUR 449 (roughly Rs. 32,300) as the standard retail price on Indiegogo for the 16GB variant, and EUR 499 (roughly Rs. 36,000) for the 32GB variant.

Whatever happened to Project Ara?

Google’s Project Ara, which was the first to showcase a modular smartphone, has delayed the commercial launch of the handset a number of times. And this is what’s irking many supporters and enthusiasts. Everyone realises that this kind of product can set a new tone for the mobile industry and change the way we purchase mobile handsets. But we’re yet to see any major company deliver.

HTC Desire 728G Dual SIM Reportedly Set to Launch in India

HTC, after launching its One E9s Dual SIM smartphone in India earlier this month, is reportedly set to launch a new handset under its Desire lineup – the Desire 728G Dual SIM.

The smartphone is said to come with a price tag of Rs. 17,990 according to an established Mumbai-based smartphone retailer. The post by Mahesh Telecom calls the smartphone the HTC Desire 728 “World Phone” Dual SIM, and points to its GSM-GSM+CDMA support, making it a variant of the HTC Desire 728 Dual SIM that was launched in China last month.

The smartphone is speculated by Fonearena to be the 3G-only Desire 728G Dual SIM launched in Germany recently, which also features GSM-GSM+CDMA options, and matches the specifications of the retailer’s Facebook post. Apart from network support, the biggest difference between the Desire 728 Dual SIM and Desire 728G Dual SIM is the presence of 1.5GB of RAM instead of the 2GB of RAM on the China variant. The China variant also runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, while retailer has listed Android 5.0.2 Lollipop for the variant set to be launched in India.

The HTC Desire 728G Dual SIM runs [Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with HTC Sense and features a 5.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display. It packs a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and a 5-megapixel secondary front-facing camera as well. Also, the handset is powered by an octa-core SoC (clocked at 1.3GHz).

The 16GB inbuilt storage on the Desire 728G Dual SIM is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). The Desire 728G Dual SIM features 3G, Wi-Fi, FM radio, Bluetooth, GPRS/ EDGE, GPS/ A-GPS, and Micro-USB connectivity. It is backed by a 2800mAh battery that can offer up to 21 hours of talk time and up to 485 hours of standby time in 3G. It measures 157.9×77.84×7.87mm and weighs around 153 grams.

Much like other recently launched HTC smartphones, the Desire 728G Dual SIM features HTC BoomSound technology, which is complemented by Dolby Audio as well.

HTC earlier this month launched its One E9s Dual SIM smartphone in India at an MRP of Rs. 23,500. It shares almost the same specifications as the upcoming Desire 728 Dual SIM except for a 4-megapixel UltraPixel front-facing camera and a smaller 2600mAh battery.

Micromax Bolt Q331, Bolt S302 Budget Phones Listed on Company Site

Micromax has introduced two new Bolt-series smartphone, the Bolt Q331 and Bolt S302. Both the new Micromax smartphones are now listed on the company site without price and availability details. We can however expect the company to announce these details for the Micromax Bolt Q331 and Micromax Bolt S302 soon.

The company listing for both the handsets confirms that they will come with free data packs for WhatsApp from Airtel. We can expect more details to be announced at the launch.

The Micromax Bolt Q331 comes with dual-SIM support and is powered by a quad-core Spreadtrum (SC7731G) processor clocked at 1.2GHz coupled with 512MB of RAM. The Android 4.4.2 KitKat-based Bolt smartphone features a 5-inch (480×854 pixels) IPS display and sports a 5-megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED flash alongside a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It includes 4GB of inbuilt storage which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB).

The Bolt Q331 packs a 2000mAh battery which is rated to deliver up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 200 hours of standby time. The smartphone comes with GPRS/ EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and Micro-USB connectivity options.

The Micromax Bolt S302, on the other hand, features a 4-inch WVGA (480×800 pixels) TFT display. It is powered by a 1GHz single-core Spreadtrum (SC7715) processor clubbed with 512MB of RAM. It runs Android 4.4.3 KitKat and packs 4GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB). It features a 2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

It includes a 1450mAh battery that is rated to deliver up to 4 hours of talk time and up to 200 hours of standby time. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Micro-USB, GPRS/ EDGE, A-GPS, and 3G.

Micromax had earlier this month launched the Bolt Q339. Priced at Rs. 3,499, the Micromax Bolt Q339was a Flipkart exclusive smartphone.

OnePlus 2 Gets Extended Warranty Plans in India


Chinese handset-maker One Plus on Saturday said it is rolling out two value-driven smartphone coverage options in the form of B2X Service and B2X Protect for the OnePlus 2.

Explaining the two programmes, the company said the B2X Service initiative provides customers with manufacturer’s warranty for the device for a full after the original warranty ends.

“This plan covers all defects that are covered under manufacturer’s warranty for another more year after the expiry of the original manufacturer’s warranty for the device. The cost of the service is Rs.999,” the company said in a release.

“The B2X Protect service covers accidental, physical and liquid damage to your OnePlus 2 device during the first year of the product purchase. The service is priced at Rs. 1,299,” it added.

“B2X is the authorised service partner for OnePlus products in India and will assist the customer in case of a device related issue which is serviced or repaired by authorised experts only,” OnePlus added.

OnePlus last week announced it will be closing the reservation list from October 22, as the invite waiting list has now crossed the 5 million mark already.

The company in a forum post explained that consumers will no longer be able to sign-up for the invites from October 22. “In one week (October 22), the OnePlus 2 Invite Reservation List will no longer be taking new entries. Those qwho have already signed up will receive theirs based on their place in line as we roll out invites chronologically,” said OnePlus Team in a post on official forum.

Samsung Galaxy On7 Listed on China Site With Specifications

Following their listing on the India site, Samsung now appears set to launch the Galaxy On5 and Galaxy On7 in China. The company has listed the smartphones on its Samsung China site, though the Galaxy On5 doesn’t have a complete product page.

To recall, the listing of the Galaxy On smartphones in India had provided little details on the Galaxy On7, and the China listing finally fills out the specifications. Pricing or availability details are still not known.

Both the Samsung Galaxy On5 and Galaxy On7 smartphones come with a lot of similar specifications with the biggest difference being the screen size. While the Galaxy On5 features a 5-inch display; the Galaxy On7 comes with 5.5-inch display. Both the handsets come with TFT touchscreens and sport HD (720×1280 pixels) resolution. They are powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Exynos 3475 processor coupled with 1.5GB of RAM.

Both pack 8GB of inbuilt storage and can be expanded via microSD card (up to 128GB). As with the Galaxy On5, the Samsung China listing does not mention the exact Android version of the Galaxy On7.

The Galaxy On7 sports a 13-megapixel rear autofocus camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The rear camera is accompanied by an LED flash and supports full-HD (1080p) video recording.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth, GPS, Glonass, Micro-USB, 3G, GPRS/ EDGE, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. The dual Micro-SIM Galaxy On7 supports 4G LTE; though no word whether it supports Indian LTE bands similar to Galaxy On5. It is listed in White and Gold colours.

The Galaxy On7 packs 3000mAh removable battery, which is larger than the 2600mAh battery seen on the Galaxy On5. It measures 151.8×77.5×8.2mm and weighs 172 grams. The listing shows that the Galaxy On7 also features a metal-styled side frame and sports a leather-feel rear cover.

Oppo Neo 7 With 5-Inch Display, Snapdragon 410 SoC Listed on Company Site

Oppo, soon after launching the R7s smartphone in Dubai last week, has now introduced the all-new Neo 7. The smartphone is now listed on the company site with no details about pricing and availability. We can expect the company to soon announce the details about the Neo 7 smartphone in the coming days.

Notably, the listing page on the company site also lists an India version of the Oppo Neo 7, detailing support for Indian 4G LTE bands. Running Android 5.1 Lollipop with the company’s custom ColorOS 2.1 skin on top, the Oppo Neo 7 features a 5-inch qHD (540×960 pixels) TFT display. The smartphone is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) processor clocked at 1.2GHz coupled with Adreno 306 and 1GB of RAM. The handset will come with 16GB inbuilt storage and will support expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB).

For camera, the Neo 7 sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with flash and also came with 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It supports dual-SIM cards with one Micro-SIM and another Nano-SIM. Apart from 4G, connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro-USB, 3G, and GPS.

The Oppo Neo 7 packs a 2420mAh non-removable battery and is listed in Black and White colours. It measures 142.7×71.7×7.55mm and weighs 141 grams.

The company listing touts that the Neo 7’s screen lights up to brighten selfies in low light condition which is possible with a light-sensitive sensor that can adjust the screen brightness according to available light.

Last week, Oppo unveiled its new R7s smartphone and announced that it will launch first in Australia followed by other markets including Singapore and Taiwan. The 4G dual-SIM based Oppo R7s features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) Amoled display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The handset comes with hybrid SIM slot that supports a Micro-SIM and a Nano-SIM card (which can be replaced with a microSD card). Under the hood, the Oppo R7s is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 (MSM8939) coupled with 4GB of RAM and Adreno 405 GPU.