Hiking How-To: Dress for the Trails

Get ready for adventure! Travel off the beaten path in trailblazing style.

Grippy rubber outsoles can handle rugged terrain. Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX, $160; REI.com

A side zipper pocket safely stows your phone. Northway Henley, $40; REI.com

Stay hydrated: Insulation keeps beverages cold for 24 hours, hot for 12. Vacuum-insulated bottle, $30; Miir.com

Fresh air can spark creativity—be ready with these waterproof pages. Expedition Edition, $10 for three; FieldNotesBrand.com

Fuel your hike with protein, fiber and unique flavors like Hickory Smoked and Thai Sweet Chili. Strong & Kind, $1.80 each; at grocers nationwide

Capture a nature scene with this camera’s super wide-angle option. Hero3+ Black Edition, $400; GoPro.com

Essential oils repel pests, while botanical butters hydrate skin. Bug Bar, $20; DrFedorenko.com

Water-resistant canvas carries your essentials; pockets help you organize. Crevasse, $99;TheNorthFace.com

Extra cushioning feels great; flat seams prevent blisters. Hike+ Lite Mini, $17; Icebreaker.com

Synthetic fleece keeps you warm while fending off light rain and snow. Los Gatos Vest, $99;Patagonia.com

A wireless speaker that’s dust-and water-resistant is ideal for celebrating at the summit. Urchin, $150; BoomMovement.com

A GPS watch ensures you’re on the right track. Fenix2, $400; Garmin.com

Enjoy scenic views in lightweight yet durable frames. Ray-Ban Wayfarer Liteforce, $195; at Sunglass Hut stores


Top phones to buy this August

Best phones

ly and early August have been rather busy months for phone companies in India. There are a number of new launches and there has been a lot of price specific movement. Some phones, such as the Xiaomi Mi 4, are now available at a very hefty discount. This all necessitates that we have a new buying guides for you. And that is exactly what we have here.

The phones in this buying guide may not appeal to some and it is not sure that what we have recommended will work for all. But these are the phones that we have used, in one case even if only briefly, and feel that they are on the top of their game. These are also the phone that I will buy if I am spending my own money. That is the biggest recommendation I can give to a phone as a reviewer.

Enough of talk, so what are these phones? Here you go.

Cheapest phone we recommend

Redmi 3S

This has to be the Xiaomi Redmi 3S. Last year people buying an entry-level phone had lots of choice. This year not so many, at least so far. But Redmi 3S, which was launched last month, is different. With a price of Rs 6,999 it is a total value for money. Although we haven’t reviewed the Redmi 3S, we have put the Prime version of the phone through its paces. And both phones are same, except two things: The Prime has more RAM and a fingerprint scanner. But in the grand scheme of things, both don’t matter all that much. the performance, battery life, screen, design and the camera are all same. Here is what we say about the Redmi 3S Prime (and the same applies on the Redmi 3S):

The Redmi 3S Prime is here, and it’s every bit as awesome as the phone that it replaces. It looks good, feels good, has a neat display, dependable performance, good-enough cameras and killer battery life. More importantly, it’s super cheap.

Read full review of the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime.

Best phone under Rs 10,000

This is another Xiaomi. But this time the Redmi Note 3, which can be considered the big brother of the Redmi 3S. The camera is one part that could have been better for the Note 3, but frankly that is fairly a minor niggle in a phone that is almost perfect for its price of Rs 9,999. Although, if you can I also suggest that you pay a little bit more — Rs 2,000 — and snag the 3GB RAM plus 32GB storage version.

Here is what we say about the Redmi Note 3 in our review: Simply put; you can’t go wrong with the Redmi Note 3. It is blazing fast in almost a boring way and its battery life is superlative. While doing so, it doesn’t have a glaring weakness in any other area. There’s a word for such a performer – an ‘all-rounder’ it is.

Read full review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.

Best phone under Rs 15,000

This has to be the Moto G4 Plus, and the 32GB version that sells for Rs 14,999. And there are two reasons for it, even if the design is not perfect — and frankly a bit lame in some aspects: These two reasons are camera and the clean Android experience. The 16-megapixel camera in the Moto G4 Plus is a gem at its price. The clean Android experience — along with the promise of fast Android Nougat update when it comes in the coming weeks — too is something that is hard to pass. Here is what we said about the phone in our review:

Moto G4 Plus

Like the earlier Moto G phones, the G4 Plus is an all-rounder. It surely has the best camera and the best screen we have seen in a Moto G so far. Its fingerprint scanner works very well and it offers fantastic performance. The software, the pure Android software, is as classy and fuss-free as it has always been.

Read the full review of the Moto G4 Plus.

Best phone under Rs 20,000

None. We suggest either the Moto G4 Plus or the our next choice, which is the LG Nexus 5X (16GB).

Best phone under Rs 25,000

As noted earlier, this has to be the LG Nexus 5X (32GB version). This phone launched at a much higher price but has gradually settled at a market price that makes a good value for money. There are a number of reasons to pick the Nexus 5X over its competitors but chief among them are its camera and the software, which directly comes from Google. The camera is among the best ever put in a phone and the clean Android experience will appeal to those who don’t like too many unwanted apps on their phone and love timely updates.

Nexus 5X

Here is what we said about the Nexus 5X in our review:

Make no mistake, even though Nexus is a brand geared towards enthusiasts, the Nexus 5X is the return of the people’s champion – a phone that most will appreciate. A phone with superb performance, clever software, great camera and solid battery life.

Read the full review of the Nexus 5X.

Best phone under Rs 30,000

Although, our previous pick will work great for all you nice folk, it lacks some speed, style and chutzpah that OnePlus 3 shows. If you want to get a true flagship phone but at a price of less than Rs 30,000, the OnePlus 3 is your phone. It also offers 64GB internal storage (great) and 6GB RAM (overkill). But the two best features of this phone are its speed and design. Here is what we said about it in our full review:

There’s nothing visibly wrong with the phone, unless you go out looking for something under a microscope. Even then, you’ll find just nit-picks… The OnePlus 3 is an excellent smartphone, nay, it’s the best under Rs 30,000 smartphone that you can buy right now.

Oh, by the way, OnePlus 3 is one of the rare devices that have got 8.5 points in the IndiaToday.In Rare. Believe us, it is indeed very rare.  Read the full review of the OnePlus 3.

Best phone under Rs 40,000

There are some really good phones available under Rs 40,000. The Galaxy S6, the Nexus 6P, Moto X Force are some of them. But my choice in this price range would be the iPhone 6. Although it is little old, this is a very fast phone and the Apple tends to support its older phones fairly well so you can rest assured that the iPhone 6 will continue to get support for around 2 more years. Also, the upcoming iOS 10 will make it a better phone, by bridging some of the feature gap that the current iPhone software has compared to the Android Marshmallow.

Here is what we said about the iPhone 6 in our review: If money is no bar, then the iPhone 6 is the phone to buy. Plain and simple… incredible screen, fantastic camera, good battery life, great performance, well-rounded operating system and overall reliability make it the best phone you can buy currently.

The only reason not to get the iPhone 6 is its 16GB internal storage. If that is a concern, we recommend you stick to the OnePlus 3.

Read full review of the iPhone 6.

Best phone under Rs 50,000

The choice is between the iPhone 6S and the Galaxy S7 and both are fine phones. But the S7 just offers all that much more for the price of around Rs 47,000. It’s the feature set that wins it for the Galaxy S7. It has a waterproof body. It has a more attractive design. It has a better camera in the low light. It has more storage at 32GB. All of this is enough for us to recommend the Galaxy S7 above the iPhone 6S. Here is what we said about the S7 in our review:

Galaxy S7

Overall, the S7 and the S7 Edge are very impressive phones and if you are spending around Rs 50,000 on your phone, you can safely opt for them. Although both will satisfy you, we feel the S7 is not only a cheaper phone but also slightly better.

Read the full review of the Galaxy S7 Edge.

Best phablet

It’s not yet on sale, but when it reaches shops in the next two weeks, it’s a safe buy. The Galaxy Note 7 is the best Note Samsung has made and that automatically also makes it a great phablet. It is powerful and full of unique features, including a fantastic stylus, that others don’t have.

Note 7

Here is what we say about the Note 7 in our quick review:

A look at the Note 7 and you realise it is an evolution and no revolution. The small but significant improvements are everywhere.
At the same time, it is also easy to see that the Note 7 is a very expensive phablet at a price of Rs 59,990. If you want something cheaper, we suggest the Note 5 — it is still excellent — around Rs 42,000 or the Huawei Nexus 6P, which sells for around Rs 35,000.

Read the full quick review of the Galaxy Note 7.

Phone with the best camera

This has to be the Samsung Galaxy S7, particularly for its low-light performance, although on the cheap the Nexus 5X is not shabby at all.

Phone with the best battery life.

The best way to get better battery life nowadays is by pairing good enough hardware with a big battery and the Xiaomi Redmi 3S does exactly does that. The phone has a very big 4100 mAh battery, which can last up to 2 days with fairly regular use. Now that is utterly fantastic. Among the high-end phones, the Note 5 has fantastic battery life, if you are looking for something like that.


Chat smart! 12 tips that will make you WhatsApp expert

Chat smart! 10 tips that will make you WhatsApp expert

atsApp has become a lifeline for almost smartphone user since its launch in year 2009. It is the most popular chat app in the world and has over 1 billion monthly active users. But while a lot of people use WhatsApp, not everyone is keeping track of all the new features the app has got in the last several months.

Also Read: WhatsApp on Windows: How to use it

In fact, since the beginning of this year the number of features coming to WhatsApp has grown at a rapid pace. Nowadays, almost every two weeks there is a new WhatsApp feature. So what does that mean for you, the WhatsApp user? You are probably not using WhatsApp in a very smart way. But worry not, we tell you some tips that will help you get most out of WhatsApp. To start with, 10 tips.

  1. Tag people in group chats: Refer to someone in a group chat with a mention by typing the “@” symbol and selecting the person’s name from the pop-up list. When you mention someone in a message, a notification will be sent to that person.
  2. For iOS users: WhatsApp has recently rolled out several updates for its iOS users like using Siri to send a message or make call. When receiving a phone call, you can answer it quickly with the new full calling screen. To answer, tap to Accept or drag the slider. A new widget has also been added to the app that lets you jump to a recent chat or see which chats have unread message. Also in your iPhone Contacts app, you will have the option to make a call or send a message directly with WhatsApp. iPhone users can also forward a message or content to multiple chats at once.
  3. Tap to speak: Don’t want to type those lengthy and boring messages? That’s fine. WhatsApp has a feature to help you deal with this. Simply, press the ‘mic’ button in your keypad and now dictate your long messages to the app.
  4. Find out who has read your message in a group chat: Not everyone reads a message at the same time in a group chat. And those double blue ticks, they appear only when the message has been read by all in the group. So now you can know who has read your messages and who hasn’t. Just tap and hold on the message, and then tap the Info option. You will see the message details like the exact time it was delivered and read.
  5. Reply to a specific message: Do you have a friend who quick fires messages? Like one question and then before you can answer that, another question. To make it less confusing, you can answer the specific messages. Press on the message you want to answer, select the ‘reply’ button, and then type and send your response. It will appear with the original message so that the context is not lost.
  6. Create shortcuts for important contracts: You can create shortcuts for your important contact on your phone’s home screen. All you have to do is go the contact’s chat window > Settings > More > Add Shortcut. You can now see the shortcut on your phone’s home screen.
  7. Stylise your messages: You can add some style — or highlights — to your messages using bold, italics, and strike-thrus. For e.g. *Hi * for bold, _Hi _ for italics and ~Hi ~ for strike-thrus.
  8. Mute the noisy group notifications: Continuous messages in a group can be a annoying. Here’s what you need to do to mute those irritating notifications. Tap on a group name > tap on Mute and then select how long you want to mute the group
  9. Broadcast live feature: With festivals coming you may want to send a message to several friends at once. You can do this using this feature. Go to the Chats screen, tap on the menu button and then ‘New broadcast’ to choose the contacts you want to send the message. So party on Friday? Invite all your friends with single message.
  10. Send a map of your location or nearby places to let someone know where you are or suggest a meeting place: To do this, tap on the share icon and then send your location or search for a place. Your GPS should be turned on before you send the location.
  11. Personalise your WhatsApp: You can change the wallpaper of your WhatsApp. You will find this option under settings.
  12. Search your WhatsApp chat history: You can search for a precise message in your chat thread. Go the contact’s screen where you want to find the message. Tap the option button > Search > Type the text you are looking for. The app will fetch in the search term along with the conversation it came in.


Google goes bullish on India, announces country-specific products

Google goes bullish on India, announces country-specific products

its bid to bring more and more people online in India, tech giant Google on Tuesday unveiled a slew of products like Google Station and YouTube Go to make it easier for the billion-plus population get connected to the internet faster and better.

At the second “Google for India” event in New Delhi which coincided with the search giant’s 18th birthday, the company announced a public Wi-Fi platform called Google Station that will connect public places like malls, railway stations, bus stops and hangouts like cafes and universities, the company said.

It also announced that its Google Assistant will be available in Hindi by the end of the year via newly-launched mobile messaging app Allo.

Also Read: YouTube Go is made for India, designed to work on slow Internet

The company announced launches in three categories — Access, Platform and Products — covering services like Google Play, Chrome, YouTube Go, Google Station, Google Duo and Allo.

“Every second, three Indians come online and we have to ensure that the experience is wonderful and relevant for them. But the next billion is very different from the first billion and by building products for these users were are preparing for how the world will use tech in the coming years,” Ceasar Sengupta, Vice President of Product Management at Google, told reporters here.

According to John Giannardrea, Senior Vice President (Search) the company has been making progress in localising Google Search with the introduction of machine learning.

“Google is now capable of translating 100 languages and 12 of these are from India,” he added.

Amit Fulay, Product Lead for communication apps Google Duo and Google Allo, said India and the US have most number of Duo users and Allo has seen a tremendous response in India.

Google Allo is a new smart messaging app that helps users make plans, find information as well as express with ease, all within the chat.

Also Read: Google Allo will support Hindi by the end of 2016

Packed with innovative features including smart reply, options for sharing photos, emojis and stickers, Google Allo makes it easier for users to respond quickly and keep the conversation moving, even when one is on the go.

Fulay said Google Assistant, which is currently available only in English in India, would be available in Hindi later this year.

Announcing new features in Chrome, Rahul Roy Chowdhury, VP (Chrome), said that new product now saves data, have offline capabilities and has more accurate content discovery.

Chrome can now work on 2G data connection. It has a new space for downloaded content including web pages and videos. Chrome now offers users more personalised suggestions in new tab.

Johanna Wright, Vice President (Product Management) at YouTube, announced YouTube Go which has an easy user interface, works on low connectivity, cuts cost in data usage and offers personalised suggestions to the users.


Top phones to buy this September

Top phones to buy this September

ptember, like always, marks the arrival of Apple’s new batch of iPhones. The Cupertino major, as expected, launched the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus earlier this month, along side the new Apple Watch Series 2. The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus will be available for buying, in India, starting from October 7. Price starts — in typical Apple fashion — at Rs 60,000 for the base 32GB version of the iPhone 7 and goes all the way up to Rs 92,000 for the top-end 256GB version of the iPhone 7 Plus. We will have more to say about the new iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, soon.

Besides the new iPhones, September, on the whole, has been quite a silent month as far as smartphone launches in India is concerned. There was of course, the IFA 2016 event in Berlin, where companies showed off some really cool smartphones, but none are coming to India, at least for now.

There have not been many big ticket launches here during this period which means, our buying guide for you for the month of September would largely dwell upon the phones, that have already created a buzz in the market, and are only growing stronger with time. There are a number of launches scheduled for the days ahead, and we will update the list once something worthwhile comes along.

Also Read: No charger, no problem: 5 top phones with big batteries in India

For now, here are the top phones that you can consider buying, this September:

Cheapest phone(s) we recommend

You know the thing about the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime or even the Redmi 3S, for that matter? It does not feel cheap, from any angle, which will be very surprising if you’re a first time buyer who hasn’t heard about the brand before. While the original, or more specifically, the standard Redmi 3S costs Rs 6,999 the Redmi 3S Prime which is a little heftier in terms of specs and features is available for Rs 8,999 all in typical Xiaomi fashion. The difference is a good Rs 2,000 and I uderstand that’s a huge thing, if someone is looking to buy a phone on a tight budget.

The Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime essentially differ in RAM and internal storage. While the standard Redmi 3S comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB base storage, the Redmi 3S Prime comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal memory. Additionally, the Redmi 3S Prime also comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Ideally, you should pick the Redmi 3S Prime. Should you be on a very tight budget though, the Redmi 3S wouldn’t disappoint you. Yes, it has lesser RAM, but 2 gigs of RAM on Rs 6,999 phone isn’t a bad deal, at all. Had the Redmi 3S been carrying a different (less potent) processor, things would be different. But since it is rocking the same processor, you’re not missing out on much. As far as internal storage is concerned, 16GB internal memory is just fine and there is of course expandable storage should you need more. The last bit, the fingerprint scanner is more a novelty than a necessity in this price bracket. If you’re getting it, it’s a plus, if not, well, you will live.

Only problem is, it’s very difficult to buy. Although, the company isn’t selling the phone via flash sales, the company sells them on pre-announced dates. Even on those days, the Redmi 3S Prime (and Redmi 3S) going out of stock in seconds is a common sight which can be frustrating for buyers.

In that case, Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play and Coolpad’s Note 3 Lite are also well worth a look.

Best phone under Rs 10,000

This slot, is again, occupied by another Xiaomi phone. This is the Redmi Note 3 . It’s really nice, but, only if you’re looking for a bigger (and brighter) screen. The Redmi 3S Prime is everything that the Redmi Note 3 is in terms of all-round performance — which means it is crazy good — without the overheating bit. The Redmi Note 3 is a little faster, since it’s carrying a more potent Snapdragon 650 processor, but it has a tendency to run warm when pushed to the edge. The Redmi 3S Prime doesn’t. Also, our tests have shown that the Redmi 3S Prime offers a better camera and better battery life in comparison. I suggest you go for the Redmi Note 3 only if you’re looking to buy a phablet. For everything else, the Redmi 3S Prime is more than sufficient. Also, it costs less.

Again, if you’re going to buy the Redmi Note 3, the experience can be a bit frustrating. Just like the Redmi 3S, the Redmi Note 3 is difficult to buy.

Best phone(s) under Rs 15,000

There’s not exactly a best phone per se in this price range. There are a couple of good options that you can consider buying. Both of them come from Lenovo. These are the Moto G4 Plus and the Vibe K5 Note .

The 3GB RAM and 32GB memory version of the Moto G4 Plus is available for Rs 14,999. Why should you buy it? Well, buy it for the camera and the stock Android experience. If however, looks and build quality is your top priority, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus should appeal to you. The Vibe K5 Note is without a doubt the best looking K-series phone that Lenovo has built in forever. The Vibe K5 Note has been priced at Rs 11,999 for the 3GB RAM and Rs 13,499 for the 4GB RAM version.

There is also a third option, that not many would prefer, but I am just puting it on here so you know, it’s something to look out for as well. It’s called the Xiaomi Mi Max. The Mi Max is essentially a Redmi Note 3 clone — in every sense of the word — except that it has been made to order for people — if any — who like large-sized phablets. It’s a 6.44-inch giant but does not feel all that big when you start to use it. The Mi Max is well-built, has a good display, is a slick and very capable performer, has excellent audio and a fantastic battery life. The Mi Max with Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 and 3GB RAM is priced at Rs 14,999 in India.

Best phone(s) under Rs 25,000

The Asus ZenFone 3 (ZE520KL) with 5.2-inch display, 3GB RAM, 32GB memory and 2,650mAh battery will cost you Rs 21,899. And it’s a fantastic phone for the price. The ZenFone 3 is the best-looking smartphone at its price point right now. Even more so, if you’re into shiny smartphones. It is equally well-built as well. The display is nice and bright, the all-round performance is pretty good, the cameras on-board are very good and the battery life is simply fantastic. It’s premium to the core, the ZenFone 3.

If however, you are looking for a slightly better camera and stock Android, the Google Nexus 5X 16GB version at Rs 24,990 should appeal to you. But take note, it is all plastic and looks all the more generic. You will get good performance, but you will also have to compromise on looks.

Best phone under Rs 30,000

The OnePlus 3 6GB RAM and 64GB memory variant has been priced at Rs 27,999 in India. The OnePlus 3 is one of those rare case studies where it’s hard to find a catch, simply because there isn’t any. It is an excellent smartphone, nay, it’s the best under Rs 30,000 smartphone that you can buy right now. Period!

Best phone(s) under Rs 40,000

Okay, this is a hard one. There are plenty of good options in this price range, making the life of your humble reviewer so very miserable. It’s very difficult to narrow it down, but then I will have to, because that’s basically the point of a buying guide, right? Let’s narrow it down to two, although, I would like to stress again, there are several other phones that are worth considering as well. So chose wisely.

The Google Nexus 6P 64GB at Rs 37,999 and the Apple iPhone 6 Plus 16GB at Rs 39,995 are really good buys at under Rs 40,000. The tewo phones offer nothing short of the best, in their respective platforms: Android and iOS. While the Nexus 6P is as close as it gets to stock Android, straight from Google, the iPhone 6 Plus gets its real deal straight from house Apple. Both the phones are upgradable to the latest software. While the Nexus 6P can be updated to Android 7.0 Nougat the iPhone 6 Plus can be updated to the latest iOS 10.

Both the phones offer top-notch premium build, good screens, slick performance and outstanding cameras. You will really have to figure out whether you’re an Android person or an iOS person, but once you’ve done that and taken youre pick, it’s smooth sailing thereafter.

Best phone under Rs 50,000

The best phone under Rs 50,000 has to be the Samsung Galaxy S7 . It’s so good, it hits the iPhone 6S straight out of the ball park in almost every sense of the word. There are two areas where the iPhone 6S has an edge though: the screen and software. For everything else, there is the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s well-built, is easy to use and operate, has a fantastic screen, good all-round performance, outstanding cameras, and good battery life.


Meet Trips, Google’s smart travel app for today’s globetrotters

Trips App

e more and plan less — keeping this motto in mind Google has come out with a new travel app. The app called Trips has been launched for the iPhone and Android users. It is free and claims to help users organise their travel itinerary with information like flight tickets and hotel reservations neatly assembled in one place.

It basically collects all the travel information from a Gmail account and accordingly shows the result.

Inspired by Google’s research that revealed nearly 74 per cent of travellers feel that the most stressful part of travel is figuring out the details, the company planned out this app to make travelling an enjoyable and  stress free experience. Or at least that is what Google says.

Apart from organising tickets and hotel reservations, the app also offers a personalised tour guide to the top 200 cities in the world.  It also offers personalised recommendations like  popular sights, attractions, and local sightseeing spots based on your Google history. Unlike many other travel apps that require internet, Trips works even offline.

Main features of the app:

Organised travel itinerary: Saves you from the hassle of digging up through emails for tickets, car and hotel reservation mails.  Brings all the information in one place.

Works offline: Save on your internet data as the app is functional offline and you can also download your itinerary without internet.

Download you trip: App allows you to download your trip and save it in the phone.

Day Plan list:  This includes a list of sights complete with hours of operation and the estimated travel time between the locations.  A download button is given below each planning list.

Edit your Trip name: You can also edit the name of your trip using the edit option given at the topmost right corner of the each trip destination.

Things to do:  This includes list of sightseeing options. The best part of this feature is this, that it offers not only the entry timings of the different local attractions , but also comes with preferences like tourist attractions for you, for kids, indoor or outdoor attractions. It also shows you the getaway options from the destination. List also includes tourist attractions organised alphabetically.

How does it work:

Go to Google Play Store > Download Trips > Sign in using your existing Gmail account or add a new account.

India has large number of travel apps already available in Play Store  like Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip and Tripigator which is the official trip planner of Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism). However, the Google Trips is neatly designed and may appeal to a lot of users.


Xiaomi launches Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus with Snapdragon 821 and dual-camera

Xiaomi launches Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus with Snapdragon 821 and dual-camera

Xiaomi today has launched not one but two phones in China, Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus. Both the phones have two RAM variants. Xiaomi has put a starting price of 1,999 Yuan (approx Rs 20,000) for Mi 5S and 2,299 Yuan (approx Rs 23,000) for the Mi 5S Plus base model.

Rumours and leaks about the latest Xiaomi phones have again proved to be true. The Mi 5S and Mi 5S Plus smartphones sport an all-metal design, unlike their predecessor Mi 5, which had a glass and metal body.

The two phones don’t have many similarities when it comes to features and specifications. The smaller phone, Mi 5S, has a 5.15-inch Full HD display with 1920 X 1080 pixel resolution. The Mi 5S comes in two memory variants: 3GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.

The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 821 64-bit octa-core processor. The Mi 5S carries a 12-megapixel camera on the back with Sony’s IMX378 sensor. It comes with a 4-megapixel camera on the front.

The Mi 5S carries an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which is based on Qualcomm’s Sense ID technology, in place of the home button in Mi 5 smartphone.

The Xiaomi Mi 5S Plus has a bigger 5.7-inch QHD display. This phone also has two memory variants: 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.

The bigger sibling also packs in the same processor coupled with Adreno 530 GPU for graphics.

Xiaomi seems to have take a few pages from Apple’s book. The Mi 5S Plus carries a dual-camera setup on the back, which we saw in iPhone 7 Plus this year. The Xiaomi phone has two 13-megapixel snappers on the back.

The Xiaomi Mi 5s will be available in dark gray, silver, gold and pink gold colors. The 3GB RAM variant will be sold at 1,999 Yuan (approx 20,000) and the 4GB RAM variant will sell for 2,299 Yuan (approx Rs 23,000).

The Mi 5S Plus will be available in pink, gold and silver colours. The base model with 4GB RAM will be available for 2,299 Yuan (approx Rs 23,000) and the 6GB RAM variant will be sold at 2,599 Yuan (approx Rs 26,000). The phone will be sold through a flash sale in China on Sept 29, there is no official word about the phones’ launch in India.


Jio has been given sufficient interconnection points: Airtel

Jio has been given sufficient interconnection points: Airtel

Bharti Airtel has said that enough points of interconnection (PoIs) have been provided to Reliance Jio to support 20-25 million subscribers and that the company has not been able to deploy its full capacity due to under-preparedness and insufficient testing effort.

“Post our bilateral meeting on September 13 to premeditate on the matter of augmentation of PoIs, we had analysed the traffic figures at the interconnect links as well as your demands for projected capacity,” the company said in a letter to Jio, dated September 26.

“Basis on our due diligence of these dynamics, we had provided 1,350 E1’s (interconnect points) on the very next day. This was followed by incremental capacity of 1,000 E1’s provided on pan-India basis on September 20,” it said.

“Unfortunately, despite the prompt and colossal effort put in by Airtel, as on date, only 2,484 E1s are live out of total capacity of 3,048 provided, primarily due to various reasons for delay attributable solely to Jio’s under preparedness and insufficient testing teams/efforts.”

Jio has maintained that interconnection points provided by other operators were insufficient.

“Based on industry practice, 12,500 E1 ports (interconnect points, with technical parameters) are required for 22 million subscribers,” said a Reliance Industries statement on August 18. “As against this, the top three operators have released only 1,400 ports so far.”

The company says, as a result of this, its subscribers face as many as 12 crore call failures a day while dialing into the networks of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.


Progress of EV technology – Evolution of Batteries

Progress of EV technology - Evolution of Batteries

It is evident that electric vehicles are going to be future. Germany has its eyes on one million electric vehicles in the country by 2020 and achieving 50 per cent electric car sales in another ten years. The global emission norms are getting meaner by the day and slowly hybrid engines will become mandatory to meet the norms, if not fully electric. All of this can be achieved with technology in different realms of electric cars and we start with the most important one – battery technology.

Batteries for EVs are like the fuel tanks for normal cars and much more. The primary job of batteries is to store electricity and dispense it whenever needed. It started with lead acid batteries for electric cars that belonged to the ‘Early Days’. Lead acid batteries were almost four decades old by then and had evolved to be fit for automotive usage. Lead acid batteries are very cheap to build and reliable but have one big limiting factor – weight. In the first half of the 20th century, where car weight did not bother much unless you were racing, lead acid batteries were the best fit.

Though nickel-cadmium batteries had been invented at the turn of the 19th century, but found their first real commercial application in the 60s. The nickel cadmium batteries were lighter than the lead acid ones and could be recharged much faster. It wasn’t until the 90s that the lithium batteries started gaining momentum in electric car application. The first India-bred EV, the erstwhile Maini group owned Reva, also started out with lead-acid batteries to keep the price tag in check. It was only 2009, when the much powerful and lighter lithium-ion batteries were employed in the Reva L-ion model.

Lithium-ion batteries are now the latest in terms of battery technology with the lithium-polymer allowing car makers to build batteries in the shape and size that they want without compromising on its performance. In latest news, the new 100KwH battery pack on a Tesla is making it almost as fast as the Veyron. So, for electric cars to beat the ICE cars at their game, the battery technology will be instrumental.





6 must-do international road trips

Today is World Tourism Day and the motoring enthusiasts in us have been scurrying franctically over the past few days to zero in on some of the best motoring routes across the globe. We are not saying these are the best. There will always be bigger, tougher and more scenic routes but the list that we have tried to bring together will offer you one of the widest range of roads, surfaces and terrains around the world.

1. Manali-Leh highway, India (479kms)

The almost 500km route from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh, Ladakh is one of the most scenic routes in the India. With an average altitude of roughly 4,000m from sea-level, the Manali-Leh highway leads you to the highest motorable road in the world at Khardung-la. As you enter the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir from Sarchu-la you are welcomed by the famous Gata loops (22 hairpin bends) at a height of almost 14,000ft enroute the highest pass on the highway at Tanglang-la towering at 17,500ft above sea level.

The Ladakh region is unique for its cold desert at 15,000ft above sea level, with snow-capped mountains always in sight and occasional oasis of green. In spite of being called a highway, there is a maximum of two usable lanes with river crossings, broken bridges and impending landslides adding to the adventure quotient.

2. The Stelvio Pass, Switzerland, Italy (300kms)

If snow-capped mountains is what you love, the Stelvio Pass that bridges Switzerland and Italy is the place you should head to. Listed as the best road for motoring across Europe by many, it is a difficult road to manoeuvre especially in traffic because it is narrow. It is the second highest pass in the Alps known for its beautiful mountain peaks and the green valleys around. It takes you through the breathtaking scenery and more than 70 hairpin bends from Switzerland to Italy.

The road becomes easier to deal with and better to drive on the Swiss soil. Except for the scary Furka Pass, which is scarier than Stelvio, come Grimsel Pass and Susten Pass which are a driver’s delight in terms of road conditions, traffic and safety. Just remember to check out for the blocked Stelvio Pass in August end before you head out for the road trip.

3. Barcelona to Valencia via Aragon, Spain (611kms)

Spain has four racetracks, one in Barcelona, one in Aragon, in Jerez and another one in Valencia. The good news is, apart from Jerez, if you plan to drive down from one track to another, they are hardly a couple of hundred miles away from each other. And if you can afford a spin on a racetrack, you can choose either or all of the three on your Spanish sojourn.

On the way to Aragon from Barcelona, you have Sitges – a beach town known for its Hispanic beauties. You can drive by the sea through Tarragona to Calaceite, a beautiful laidback town in Matarrana region and then to Cretas to get a flavour of the Spanish Tuscany. If you aren’t stopping over for the racetrack at Aragon, you can head straight to Carinena. The Carinena vineyards are one of the oldest protected growing areas in Europe and is known for its wine. On the way from to Valencia from Carinena, is the high altitude town of Teruel known for its unique Mudejar architecture.

4. Australian outback (2000kms)

The Australian outback is one of the remotest parts of the island nation and spreads across thousands of kilometres in north and northwest Australia. The red centre is located in the middle of the outback and usually refers to Alice Springs and Uluru/Ayers Rock. With temperatures ranging from -10 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius and the scarcity of water and supplies means you have to be really prepared to traverse across the continent.

The ultimate motoring adventure would be to explore the outback but for that, you will need a 4×4 – a utility vehicle that has capabilities of tackling tricky situations. You can hit the outback only when you have a good amount of time to spare and have expertise in navigation if you plan to ditch the regular highways. The outback has a lot to offer – the canyons, springs, lakes and even some beaches along with mountains and desert.

5. Isle of Man, England (500kms)

If you are a motorcyclist, the Isle of Man is your Mecca. Home to one of the maddest road races on two wheels, the Isle of Man off the British coast is a serene place for the rest of the year. Located in the Irish Sea, you can ferry your car/bike to the island. You can drive/ride on the TT course but within the laws of the land. If you want to go full blast, the Jurby Autodrome on the island will let you belt it out for a fee.

The Isle of Man is not only about the speedy TT. It boasts of almost 10,000 years of Manx history preserved in the numerous museums across the country. Known for its cleanliness and maintained landscape, the beaches, harbours as well as the mines are worth a tour. You also have huge castles, churches and gardens for some historic trips across the island.

6. Route 66, United States of America (4000kms)

The Route 66 has been the backbone of American travel. It runs through eight states from Los Angeles on the West Coast to Chicago. Almost 4,000kms long, Route 66 started the concept of motels and drive-ins in America and was probably of the first places where the neon signs were seen aplenty. After the inception of the interstate highways that cut across the landscape and replaced the original road, the Route 66 lost its sheen.

With the story featured in the animated movie Cars, the old Route 66 will drive you through American history. There are numerous attractions over the eight states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It also drives through a variety of terrains including mountains, plains and plateaus through the land of native Americans.