A Reliance Jio feature phone at Rs 500? Well, here’s a reality check

Another report hints at a Reliance Jio 4G VoLTE feature phone, this time priced at Rs 500. However, such a phone will not be able improve the experience for budget smartphone users for obvious reasons.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 5, 2017 2:59 pm
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A Reliance Jio 4G VoLTE feature phone is something that has been talked about for quite sometime. Since the Jio 4G service went live, there have been several reports and leaks showcasing this so called Reliance Jio 4G feature phone. Now, a latest report in Economic Times claims Reliance Jio will launch a 4G VoLTE feature phones at a price of Rs 500.

The report quotes an HSBC telecom analyst Rajiv Sharma who says “Jio will likely launch a feature phone with 4G capability at a price of Rs 500 (sub-$8).” The report claims the price will be subsidised to draw 2G subscribers to their service.

The report claims Reliance Jio has “placed orders for 18-20 million of the 4G VoLTE feature phones” and tied up with some key Chinese manufacturers. The phones could be delivered by July end, says the report while hinting at a August 15 launch. Reliance Jio has never officially commented on this issue.

The chatter over a Reliance Jio 4G VoLTE feature phone stems from the fact that the Jio network is entirely on 4G VoLTE, which keeps it away from the feature phone audience in India. There was till recently nothing called a 4G feature phone and most features phones only support 2G networks in India. Lava and Micromax had recently launched feature phones with 4G capabilities, but these devices are priced in the Rs 3,000 and above range where customers also have the option of buying a smartphone.

A feature phone at Rs 500 could be truly disruptive, especially if it comes with 4G VoLTE capability. Reliance Jio, which already has, over 100 million subscribers in India, has seen growth slow down. If it starts adding volume at the base level it could mean further bad news for its rivals. Jio’s entry in the market also started a data price war with Vodafone, Airtel and Idea Cellular all offering extra data to customers at lower prices.

Also read: Do we really need a 4G phone for Rs 1500, but can’t offer a good experience? Naah

However, it should be remembered that a 4G VoLTE feature phone will come with limited features. It will not be able to offer a better experience for the consumer as there is only so much you can do on a feature phone, especially a Rs 500 one. At the end of the day, the idea with 4G data is that a user consumes it to watch content, and we’ve seen video consumption grow in India with improved mobile data connectivity. A feature phone which can’t run apps and does not have a large screen will have limited usage even with access to free content.

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