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Explained: Why the JioPhone Next could be significant for India

Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani Thursday announced JioPhone Next, a 4G budget smartphone his telecom arm will launch later this year in partnership with Google. Here's why this announcement is significant

Written by Shruti Dhapola , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 30, 2021 8:40:55 am
Google is promising "a fast and high-quality camera" experience on the JioPhone Next, which can be a problem on most budget phones.

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani Thursday used the company’s annual general meeting to announce JioPhone Next, a 4G budget smartphone his telecom arm will launch later this year in partnership with Google. IndianExpress.com explains why the announcement is significant.

What is JioPhone Next?

Billed as an affordable 4G-capable ‘fully featured’ smartphone, which will run an optimised version of Android, that both Jio and Google have developed together, the JioPhone Next is geared towards those set of users who are coming online for the first time. It will go on sale from September 10.

But unlike the previous Jio 4G the company launched running a version of KaiOS, this is a smartphone with all Android features, access to Google Play Store, a camera optimised for performance, Google Assistant, and the ability to translate all text on the screen.

How much will JioPhone Next cost?

Jio has not revealed the price of the phone. It will be confirmed closer to launch. India has plenty of budget and affordable 4G smartphones in the market, and it remains to be seen how the JioPhone Next is priced. It will likely come with some special data plans from Jio as well to make it stand out from the competition.

What are the software features of the JioPhone Next?

Users will get an option to change the language of the phone’s content with just a tap of a button. The Read Aloud and Translate feature will be part of the OS of the phone and will cater to those who are clearly not comfortable using a smartphone because of different types of language barriers.

It will work with any text on the JioPhone Next screen, including web pages, apps, messages, and even photos, according to Google. The text will be translated in the user’s local language and read aloud to them. The supported languages have not yet been announced.

Another software feature is App Actions, where the Google Assistant will work with the Jio apps. So users will be able to ask the Assistant to tell the score or play music on Jio Saavn or even check account balance on the My Jio app.

The phone will have a custom camera software too. Google is promising “a fast and high-quality camera” experience on the JioPhone Next, which can be a problem on most budget phones. The camera software has been optimised and tested with the phone’s camera module to ensure clear photos even in low-light and at night, according to Google.

The camera also comes with HDR mode, which is not seen on budget phones too often. Google has also partnered with Snap, the parent company for Snapchat, to integrate Indian-specific Snapchat Lenses directly into the phone’s camera app. This feature will continue to get updated.

Google is also promising the latest Android releases and security updates for the JioPhone Next. It is not clear which version of Android the device will run.

Why is this significant?

All of Jio’s launches so far have wowed Indian consumers on the price front. So don’t be surprised if the JioPhone Next too launches with a price that will undercut all competition when it comes to an entry level 4G smartphone, which is still hovering above the Rs 5,000 mark.

Also, the software optimisations already announced along with the data packages you can expect with the phone will surely give a huge fillip to the bottom end of the smartphone market in India. Also, this should help accelerate the transition of millions of users from feature phones to smarter devices.

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