Archive for August, 2017

Netflix on Monday said it has bought comics publisher Millarworld, bringing on board renowned comic book writer Mark Millar and a host of character franchises it can mine for TV shows and movies.

It is the first acquisition by Netflix, the 20-year-old streaming-video pioneer that is building a library of original series and films in a bid to hook new customers around the world.

Two of Millarworld’s best-known comics, Kick-Ass and Kingsman, are not part of the deal, whose terms Netflix did not disclose.

The purchase of a character stable mimics the strategy of Walt Disney. Disney bought Marvel Studios in 2009 and has churned out blockbuster movies, TV series and toys based on its superheroes. Some Marvel shows run on Netflix.

Mark Millar, a Scottish writer and former Marvel employee, runs Millarworld with his wife, Lucy.

Three of Millarworld’s franchises – Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman – have been adapted into films that have taken in nearly $913 million combined at global box offices.

Although Kick-Ass and Kingsman are not part of the deal, it does bring Netflix a range of other franchises across genres from science fiction to fantasy, plus superheroes and real-world characters.

“Mark is as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement, referring to the 94-year-old creator of comic book franchises such as Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men.

Millar spent eight years at Marvel, where he developed comic books and story lines that resulted in movies such as Logan and Captain America: Civil War.

It is unclear if Netflix will spend the sums Marvel does on its movies, which can cost up to $250 million. Netflix’s development has focused on TV series and smaller budget movies, but it is moving toward big-budget films. It spent $90 million on the Will Smith movie Bright, due out in December.

The acquisition of Millarworld is likely financially immaterial to Netflix, Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson said via email. He said his research showed comic book adaptations draw large audiences on the streaming service.

Netflix last month reported second-quarter revenue of $2.79 billion and net income of $65.6 million.

Millarworld will continue to create and publish new stories and franchises under the Netflix label, the company said.

Netflix also could expand further into consumer products. The company has stepped into merchandising with apparel and other products related to Stranger Things.

Shares of Netflix rose 0.6 percent to $181.37 on Nasdaq.



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With the Lenovo K8 Note launch just around the corner, reports of a smartphone called the Lenovo K8 Plus have started to pour in. To recall, the Lenovo K8 Note is due to launch in India on Wednesday, August 8, and it will be an Amazon exclusive. The Lenovo K8 Plus, on the other hand, is a new entry into the rumour-sphere, and has been spotted in a Geekbench listing online.

The listing on the Geekbench benchmark site, purported to be of the Lenovo K8 Plus, doesn’t reveal too much information about the smartphone, but a few details do come through. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat, for one, and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P25 (MT6757CD) SoC clocked up to 1.7GHz, for the other. The last little nugget of information that can be gleaned from the benchmark listing of the Lenovo K8 Plus is the fact that it is configured with what appears to be 3GB of RAM. The listing was spotted by Techook.

The Lenovo K8 Plus can also be assumed to run stock Android. The Chinese company recently revealed to Gadgets 360 that it had listened to customer feedback, and decided to abandon its Vibe Pure UI for stock Android instead. The K8 Note will kick off this trend, and run Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. The company would still have minor customisations to offer on top of the Android build, but the decision would help roll out quicker software updates while also improving performance with less bloatware.

That’s all we know about the Lenovo K8 Plus thus far, but with its first appearance, it’s safe to presume we will hear more about the smartphone in the future.



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The Xiaomi Mi Note 3 has been leaked on several occasions in the past, and now a fresh leak suggests that the smartphone may launch as early as this month. The leak also reveals that the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 may sport a 2K OLED screen made by Samsung, a big upgrade from its predecessor, if true.

MyDrivers reports that the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 may launch a little ahead of its time i.e., before the third quarter ends. This means that the smartphone could launch any time in August or September, which is much earlier than when its predecessor Mi Note 2 launched last year. To recall, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 smartphone was launched last year in October, and was made available in November.

Furthermore, the report claims that the biggest change on the Mi Note 3 will be the 2K (1440×2560 pixels) OLED screen made by Samsung. The report also states that the smartphone will be powered by the top-end Snapdragon 835 SoC paired with 6GB of RAM as well.

Some of the other rumoured specifications of the Xiaomi Mi Note 3 include 5.7-inch AMOLED display, 128GB storage, and 4000mAh battery. Furthermore, the Mi Note 3 is said to include 12-megapixel dual-rear cameras alongside an 8-megapixel front camera.

With respect to design, the Mi Note 3 is rumoured to have a front panel with near bezel-less display. There’s expected to be a home button located right below the screen which is likely to integrate the fingerprint scanner as well. One of the biggest highlights of the alleged Mi Note 3, as mentioned, is said to be the dual-rear camera setup which looks similar to what we already saw on the Xiaomi Mi 6.



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Samsung has announced its U Flex premium headphones, with a bendable design and dedicated Bixby button for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users. The headphones will come in Black, Blue, and Ivory trims. The company hasn’t announced pricing or availability details but we suspect that should arrive along with the Galaxy Note 8 that’s set to launch on August 23.

The Samsung U Flex headphones are designed to be rugged and are said to be able to withstand harsh conditions. The neckband is designed to be flexible by up to 100 degrees, which means you can contour it to easily fit in your pants pocket or a small hand bag. The controls and ports are placed on both ends of the neckband. On the left, we have buttons to control music playback, a power button and a Micro-USB port. On the right, there’s a dedicated button called Active Key, which can be customised to access various functions like the clock, timer, Samsung Health, favourites or voice assistants like Bixby. If you don’t have a Bixby-capable smartphone, then you’ll be able to summon S Voice on other Samsung phones. All this can be controlled via the Samsung Level app on Android.

The headphones also have a dual driver setup. Each earbud houses a 11mm woofer and a 8mm tweeter, which is said to deliver powerful bass response and clear highs. The Samsung U Flex also support Samsung’s Scalable Codec technology which analyses ambient interference from Wi-Fi signals for better range and a more stable Bluetooth connection. However, this technology will only work with a compatible Samsung smartphone. Other features include P2i nano coating which can protect it from light splashes of water; 10 hours of battery life; and built-in vibration alert for incoming calls.

We should get more details once Samsung commercially launches the U Flex. These premium headphones have many features in common with existing neckband-style headphones like the LG Tone Active+ and the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless, so it will be interesting to see how Samsung’s offering will stack up in terms of performance and pricing.


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The new telecom policy in the works should ensure equal policies for competing technologies, an advance yearly road map for spectrum allocation, and cut levies for operators, industry body COAI has said.

The policy should have some “permanent fixes” for the failing financial health of the sector and the industry cannot be treated “as a place to go for revenue”, COAI Director General Rajan Mathews told PTI.

The policy – the work on which has already started at the telecom department – should ensure level-playing-field between mobile operators and over-the-top players (Internet-based calling and messaging providers like WhatsApp).

Having equal policies for competing technologies would protect investments made by licensed mobile operators by ensuring regulatory predictability and consistency, according to COAI, whose members include operators Airtel, Vodafone, Idea as also newcomer Reliance Jio.

Propagating the “same service same rules” principle, Mathews said the new policy should bring OTT communication services under the licensing ambit just as mobile operators or else “deregulate” everyone.

“There should be same-service-same-rules principle. If such players are deregulated, then deregulate us as well. If they are offering voice too, why is it that only mobile operators are paying levies like licence fee and spectrum charge?” Mathews wondered.

He said COAI has placed its submissions on the new policy before the Department of Telecom.

Terming a robust policy on spectrum as “necessity” in ensuring its efficient management and allocation, the association has sought a long-term and clear road map for releasing radio waves for cellular technologies.

The same should be reviewed every five years or earlier, the industry body added.

COAI has also asked the government to ensure there is no delicensing or free allocation of spectrum, particularly below 1GHz bands, which are critical and more valuable.

Mathews felt that the new policy should be a vehicle for returning industry to financial health.

Accordingly, COAI has renewed some of its past demands like reduction of spectrum usage charge to uniform 1 percent and lowering of Universal Service Obligation (used for rural rollout) contribution to 3 per cent before the phasing out of the levy in 2-3 years.

Alternatively, COAI has said the USO Fund levy can be rationalised as per rural rollout done by an operator, or USO contribution can be kept in abeyance till the entire amount of available corpus gets fully disbursed.

The comments come at a time when mobile operators – large and small – are reeling under a massive Rs. 4.6 lakh crores debt burden and the industry’s revenue, profitability and key operational metrics are under pressure hurt by competition and freebies from newcomer Jio.

An inter-ministerial group, which has been constituted to look into the financial issues of the telecom sector and suggest remedial measures, is expected to submit its report later this month.

DoT has, meanwhile, also started consultations with the industry and academia on the new telecom policy and hopes to finalise it by March 2018.



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Kult, a domestic mobile brand that debuted in the smartphone industry with Kult 10 back on 2015, on Friday launched its new smartphone, Kult Beyond. The smartphone will exclusively be sold on Amazon India from August 18 at a price of Rs. 6,999, with registrations for the sale now open.

The Kult Beyond is a dual SIM (Micro+Micro) smartphone that runs Android 7.0 Nougat. It is powered by 1.25GHz quad-core (chip maker unspecified) coupled with 3GB of RAM. For graphics, it has 650Hz Mali T720 MP1 GPU. The smartphone sports a 5.2-inch HD (720×1280) IPS on-cell display.

As for photography, the Kult Beyond houses 13-megapixel cameras on both rear and front sides accompanied by a dual-tone LED flashes. The camera app comes equipped with features such as beauty mode and ‘Vistoso’ that allows users to print their favourite images on T-shirts and mugs. Storage-wise, the smartphone comes with 32GB of inbuilt storage that can be further expanded via its separate microSD card (up to 32GB) slot.

The Kult Beyond gets its daily juice from a 3000mAh battery that is rated to offer up to 25 hours of talk time. There is a fingerprint scanner at the back side of the smartphone, sitting just below the camera module. Apart from unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner can open select applications, answer calls, play and pause music/ movies, turn off the alarm and scroll homepage. The connectivity options in the smartphone include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, 4G VoLTE support, and MicroUSB among others.

Commenting on the launch of Kult Beyond, Hardip Singh, Executive Director, Optiemus Infracom said, “Today’s hyper-connected millennial demands high performance smartphone with great camera quality. We kept that in mind while building Kult Beyond. This beautifully designed smartphone comes loaded with class-leading features and functionalities at a very attractive price, which is an added advantage.” He further added, “At Kult, our endeavor is to offer made-in-India and best in class smartphones at very compelling price points. We are confident that Kult Brand will connect with today’s youth and meet their demands and requirements at large. We expect to see huge demand for Kult Beyond and are bullish on its success.”


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iPhone SE is one of the most affordable Apple smartphones that can be purchased in India right now, and the 32GB model can now be purchased for Rs. 22,990 from Paytm’s online retail store. Additionally, Paytm is also offering a Rs. 3,000 cashback on the purchase that would effectively bring down the price of the iPhone SE to Rs. 19,990.

While the iPhone SE is usually priced on the Paytm Mall at Rs. 27,200, the company is offering a flat 15 percent discount and offering a Rs. 3,000 cashback, which can be availed by using promo code ‘PhoneSE’ after adding the product to the cart. Notably, Cash on Delivery option will not be available for those users who will be using this promo code and availing the cashback offer.

To recall, iPhone SE comes with a 4-inch Retina display (640×1136 pixels) and packs Apple’s A9 SoC. It comes with a 12-megapixel rear camera and a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button as well. Interestingly, Paytm Mall is also offering Buyback Guarantee of Rs. 9,000 on the handset.

Apart from iPhone SE, Paytm Mall is also offering cashback and flash offers on various other iPhone models ranging from iPhone 5s to iPhone 7 Plus.

Let us know in the comments down below if you will consider switching to an iPhone at this price or would prefer for the price to come down further before you make a switch. Those users who prefer Android can also share their views in the comments down below.


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Uber is taking further steps to ramp up the safety of women passengers in India, its largest overseas market. The ride-hailing company on Friday partnered with the Delhi Police to integrate features from the latter’s Himmat women’s safey app.

The quick access to Himmat from within Uber app will act as a “force multiplier,” the company said. Himmat app, which was launched by the Delhi Police in 2015, has over 31,000 registered users with over 90,000 downloads. It allows passengers to send a distress call to the Police Control Room and their relatives in an event of emergency. When a passenger taps the distress call option, a 30-second audio and video recording from the phone is relayed to the authority. It is the first time Delhi Police has partnered with a technology company, Uber said.

Himmat will be accessible to New Delhi residents first, but Uber said it plans to extend the reach to all women passengers in India. More than five million people take rides in Uber’s cabs in the country, the company announced this week.

“Combining access to the Himmat app through Uber is a big step towards strengthening the safety net available to lakhs of women riders. We applaud the efforts taken by the Delhi Police to prioritise safety of women and believe that the Himmat app is a great initiative in this direction,” Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Head – Public Policy, Uber India & South Asia, said in a press statement.

The safety of passengers has been a concerning issue for women in both Ola and Uber cab services. The companies, however, have introduced several features and options – including a panic button in some cars – to strengthen their safety.


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A new report about global smartphone shipments in Q2 2017 claims Samsung’s growth rate was relatively flat, however Apple saw a 2 percent increase in shipments year-on-year. This growth in the quarter that saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 bucked the trend ahead of the hotly anticipated launch of the iPhone 8.

According to the report by market research firm Canalys, Samsung managed to sell 79 million smartphones in the second quarter, whereas last year it sold 80 million, seeing a slight dip. This flat growth rate is attributed to the high prices of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the Android segment. Samsung had a lot of hopes from the Galaxy S8 to outperform this year, especially after the big Galaxy Note 7 fiasco that attracted huge losses for the company. But the shipments only barely met with last year’s second quarter results, the report indicates, pointing the smartphone’s high price and how that may have tested the bounds of the Android smartphone market.

Even with the flat growth rate, Samsung still retains the top spot, with Apple coming in second selling 41 million smartphones in the second quarter. The report claims that there is a 2 percent increase in shipments from last year’s second quarter results. In Q2 2016, Apple managed to sell 40 million units. This increase in shipments is significant, as no new smartphone was launched by Apple in the second quarter, whereas its competitor Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 series. Also, the arrival of the tenth anniversary edition iPhone 8 this fall, and the anticipation building around it, did not stop customers from buying iPhones currently.

“Shipments of the [Galaxy] S8 have been strong in some regions, but there are signs that demand has been overestimated. Canalys’ channels research has revealed inventory buildup in Europe, which when combined with discounting in the US, indicates Samsung may be testing the limits of Android smartphone pricing. As Apple looks to refresh the iPhone, even with its unique user experience, it too must justify any significant price increases with tangible improvements to both feature set and design,” Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling said in a statement.

Overall smartphone shipments in the world saw an increase of almost 4 percent year on year, despite a decline in big markets like India and China. Over 340 million smartphones were sold in total during the second quarter, and the third spot, after Apple, was taken surprisingly by Huawei. It managed a growth rate of 20 percent with 38 million units shipped in Q2. Last year in Q2, Huawei managed to sell 31 million smartphones. Oppo secured the fourth spot with 44 percent growth in shipments, while Xiaomi had the highest growth rate at 52 percent.



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OnePlus recently started rolling out its OxygenOS 4.5.7 update and finally added the ability to record videos in 4K resolution with electronic image stabilisation (EIS) on OnePlus 5. However, it appears the update has been plagued by a gaming stutter issue.

In a Reddit thread, a OnePlus community specialist has confirmed that the company has indeed withdrawn the rollout of OxygenOS 4.5.7 update as many users were reporting a bug where they were experiencing stutter issues while gaming post the update. However, the company has been said to roll out OxygenOS 4.5.8 update “ASAP” with a fix for this issue.

While some users have mentioned the stuttering issues post the OxygenOS 4.5.7 update, several others have also claimed that it has brought about improved battery life to the OnePlus 5 smartphone. To recall, several users recently reported that the bug fix update for the emergency call issue, where OnePlus 5 users faced unexpected reboots while calling helpline numbers including 911, brought along battery life issues to the smartphone. Some users even said that the smartphone was losing 20-25 percent battery even when in idle state during night time (with Doze mode switched on).

Though we have always commended OnePlus on rolling out frequent software updates, these issues should ideally have been ironed out before the update was made available for the public. We will have to wait and see how long the company takes to issue the bug fix update.



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