Tech Talk: Recharging times

Starting December, telecom bills in every house has risen by at least 40%. This will be the first time since 2016, that these prices have been increased. A couple of years back when Reliance Jio was announced, it was the dawn of 4G connectivity in the country. With 4G we got blazing fast internet right in our palms at a mind-boggling price. Apart from cheap data, voice calls across the country became free.

However, with the advent of Reliance Jio, the Indian telecom industry went through a major reconciliation. The entire landscape changed with smaller players like Reliance Communication, Aircel, Tata Docomo, Uninor, etc. got obliterated overnight. Established players like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and BSNL also felt the pressure and had to rejig their businesses. Costs to upgrade hardware to deploy a 4G network and make old ones 4G compatible was over and above the huge amounts paid to the government to acquire the required 4G spectrum.

A few years back we paid almost 200 Rs. per GB of 3G data but thanks to the price war consumers paid an almost similar amount for the entire month which included free voice calls and 1 or 2 GB of 4G data, every day. This prolonged price war has now ended and all these companies have realized that they cannot sustain without increasing the prices considerably.

What lies ahead

While the analysts were expecting this price hike for the prepaid consumers, no one expected the rise to be so steep. In a few cases, the new packs are 50% costlier. All the voice calls made to other networks are chargeable now with some analysts are even predicting that calls on the same network will also become chargeable in the near future.

As a whole, consumers, especially prepaid users, are the most impacted with the price increase but this was imminent. This price hike is also expected to induce confidence among the investors and will allow companies to raise funds easily, which in turn means better infrastructure, improved call quality and faster data connectivity.

This will mark the return of multiple plans, offers, FUPs and after this brief period of enjoying all these freebies, it feels like déjà vu. Isn’t it?

Colour thy OS

How often you’ve heard people crib that smartphones these days have more or less similar hardware specifications depending on the price segment they fit in. Similar camera configurations, amount of storage space, memory, design and other features could be found on many devices. So, what makes each of them unique? Well, it’s the user interface that powers these devices makes the entire experience unique to each.

There are people who prefer the cleanest form of Android and then there are few who prefer the customized version. Though the stock android or vanilla Android, mostly found on Pixel phones from Google, is fast, devoid of bloatware and is the first one to get the latest Android updates. On the other hand, a custom OS, which is basically a skin built on top of Android by phone manufacturers, comes with unique and handy enhancements that stock Android often lacks.

The most common versions of custom Android user interface are Oxygen OS from OnePlus, EMUI from Huawei, MIUI from Xiaomi, FuntouchOS from Vivo and ColorOS from OPPO. Each of these feature-rich user interfaces has its own unique characteristics and they try to enhance the user experience by building apps and features offering the best out of device’s hardware.

Chinese smartphone maker OPPO had recently set up an R&D center in Hyderabad to build localized features keeping in mind the needs of Indian consumers. Features like bike riding mode, system-wide dark mode, dynamic wallpaper, screenshot gesture and DocVault, a customized version of DigiLocker, to keep your important documents safe, are a few features built by this local team.

These features will be a part of the recently announced ColorOS 7 which will power most of its phones, going forward. OPPO has also put a strong focus on improving the overall mobile camera performance with the help of Google Camera X APIs. This can be one interesting reason to buy ColorOS 7 powered phones since we all know Google’s prowess with smartphone cameras.

Ability to customize the look and feel, a neat design and better user experience is what most smartphone users expect from their phones. This is exactly where the local R&D teams come in to picture for these smartphone companies. These local teams engage with the existing users through different forums, meetups, and other market research agencies to assess the features their users look for.

With an ever-increasing focus on software and features, it’s the consumers who will be benefitted the most. Firstly, by getting amazingly powerful smartphones at affordable costs. Secondly, getting features, which are designed to make their smartphone experience better. Combined together both these will have an equal say in consumer behavior going forward.

A technology buff, Jitendra stays up-to-the-minute of trends in smartphones, gadgets, apps and more.

Also Read: Tech talk: Charge into the future