Reliance JioPhone has not officially gone on sale, but it looks like Indian customers are set to get more 4G feature phone options across networks. Just days after Reliance Jio announced its 4G-enabled JioPhone (dubbed as ‘India ka smartphone’), Intex has unveiled a similar offering called Turbo+ 4G. And yes, this is a 4G VoLTE feature phone, though it will be only be available around Diwali. Another telecom player Idea Cellular has also announced plans for a 4G feature phone, but at a possible price of Rs 2500.
JioPhone is geared towards feature phone users in rural and urban India, who can’t pay for an expensive smartphone. Reliance is targeting India’s 50 crore feature phone user base, which is still mostly on 2G. And it is hoping to win these people over by marketing the phone as ‘essentially free’, even though the JioPhone comes with a Rs 1500 deposit upfront (refundable, but after three years). This doesn’t include the cost of monthly data packs, which starts at Rs 153.
For starters, Idea announced it is working on its own 4G-enabled phone that will cost Rs 2,500. Unlike JioPhone, which will only comes with support for the company’s suite of apps, the new Idea phone will give users the freedom to download the apps of their choice, Idea Cellular’s Managing Director Himanshu Kapania was quoted as saying by PTI. Other than this, we don’t know much about the Idea feature phone.
Interestingly, he also raised net neutrality issues with the JioPhone, and said the setup is forcing “consumers to use an individual operator’s apps.” Currently, the JioPhone comes with the company’s own apps, which includes JioTV, JioMagazine, JioChat, etc. Unless other developers create apps for the JioPhone, users will have to make do with what Jio is providing.
Meanwhile, Intex has also launched its 4G VoLTE feature phone. The Intex Turbo+ 4G phone comes at Rs 1999, and according to the company, this is not the same as the JioPhone. Intex told indianexpress.com that the Turbo+ 4G is a separate Intex phone, but also 4G-enabled. The phone has launched, even as reports claimed Intex was manufacturing Reliance Jio’s 4G feature phones.
The challenge with the JioPhone is that it will only support tariff plans exclusive on the Jio network. JioPhone can’t be used with another telecom operator’s SIM card at all. In contrast, Intex Turbo+ 4G will be compatible with all telecom operators’ network, offering more options to users.
Another point to note is that Intex’s new feature phones come with similar specifications as that of JioPhone. Intex Turbo+ 4G features a 2.4-inch QVGA display, and it also runs KaiOS software. Powered by a dual-core processor, this Intex phone comes with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage (expandable up to 32GB). It gets a 2MP rear camera, while there’s a VGA camera on the front. Intex Turbo+ 4G packs a 2000mAh battery.
In comparison, JioPhone gets a 2.4-inch QVGA display. It runs on KaiOS as well, and supports Jio’s suite of apps. Reliance has not listed out the rest of the specifications in detail. What makes this feature phone unique is that it is 4G VoLTE-enabled and users can give voice commands to carry out tasks. There’s a VGA camera as well.
Reliance JioPhone will officially only go on sale in September. Given the ‘Rs 0’ pricing, there’s bound to be high demand for this feature phone. But other players, including telecom companies have plans of catching up with Jio’s revolutionary feature phone. It won’t be surprising if other OEMs announce 4G feature phones in the market soon. Now whether these devices can dampen the buzz around JioPhone is something we’ll have to wait and watch.