Reliance JioPhone might be just a feature phone, but for 2017 it was one of the most hyped devices. JioPhone came with the promise of a revolution and while so far online bookings for the phone have only taken place twice, it has sparked interest in the potential of feature phones. Companies like Micromax have introduced Bharat 1, a feature phone running Facebook, WhatsApp post the Jio Phone launch,
In a market like India, features phones still hold tremendous value, given the low price point and these are still driving sales in the mobile phone market. JioPhone continues with this affordability factor, but combines it with 4G VoLTE, something that was not talked about on feature phones.
So how does the JioPhone really work? What plans are compatible with this device? What apps is Reliance Jio offering? We’ve used the JioPhone for a few days and we will try and answer some of those questions below.
Reliance JioPhone: What plans work with this, what is the actual cost of the Jio Phone?
For those considering the Reliance JioPhone, cost is probably the most important factor to keep in mind. Now Jio has special plans for the feature phone, which are priced at Rs 153, Rs 24 and Rs 54. The Rs 153 prepaid pack has unlimited calls, SMS, 500MB data per day and validity of 28 days. The Rs 24 pack is valid for two days, while the Rs 54 day pack will last for seven days.
However, Reliance JioPhone can be recharged with higher plans as well. In our case, we were able to the get Rs 399 recharge on the JioPhone, which has a longer validity of 70 days and comes with 1GB daily data. The JioPhone also comes with a Rs 1500 cost attached to it. This ‘refundable’ deposit’ will have to be paid by every user, and will be returned after three years when the user gives the phone back. Jio has attached a string of terms and conditions around this and you can read more about it here.
Still the JioPhone does work with higher plans, though you will have to pay Rs 99 for the Jio Prime membership to get these plans on the phone. Users should remember Jio expects users to spend a minimum of Rs 1500 on recharge vouchers every year (comes to Rs 4500 for three years) in order to continue using this phone. The JioPhone is not technically free and has a cost attached of Rs 1500 attached to it per year, which is a minimum.
Reliance JioPhone: What apps work with this, what is the OS?
Reliance JioPhone is powered by KaiOS and as we have seen in our use case, the list of apps is currently limited to those from Jio. The official store on JioPhone is JioStore and the phone has JioMusic app, JioCinema, HelloJio, JioGames, JioTv, JioShare, JioVideocall, JioXpress (for news) all installed on this. The MyJio app is also present for recharge and one is shown the plans specific to this phone first, though it has the option of Rs 399 and higher plans for recharge as well. There is also a browser app on the JioPhone, though we were unable to run WhatsApp Web on this.
There’s also Unit Conversion app, one for Notes, a Calculator, Messages, Call Log app and FM Radio. A Facebook Lite app and WhatsApp version meant for the JioPhone are supposed to launch if one goes by some reports, though there’s no official word or confirmation on when this will happen. One can however, log into Facebook mobile site using the browser app.
Still apps like JioTV, JioCinema work without hassle on the Jio network and despite the small screen users have the option of watching TV shows, etc right on this feature phone. The HelloJio assistant also works accurately, at least in the three four uses cases where we asked it call a number, send a text message, etc.
Does Reliance JioPhone have Google Assistant now?
The Google Assistant has also been announced for the JioPhone, but that has yet to come to the device. We have not seen any update on the device for now. It will be interesting to see how the Jio Phone works with the Google Assistant.
Reliance JioPhone: Does it support WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, Hotspot?
There is no Hotspot option yet in the settings of the Reliance JioPhone. It support WiFi and was easily able to detect most networks in our office. Bluetooth is there and it even detected an iPhone, though pairing was unsuccessful because iPhone doesn’t support it. There is NFC as well, though NFC payments option is supposed to roll out. Again Reliance Jio has not confirmed when it will launch these features on the JioPhone, though all of this was promised at launch.
Reliance JioPhone: How does it perform, what’s the battery life like?
The JioPhone is a feature phone device and more than performance, the selling point here is that it has all these features and 4G for a very low price. The pre-loaded apps on JioPhone are not a problem. Only issue we have noticed is that the call log app does not update and remains blank even after calls have been made. Call quality is fine and the build of the JioPhone is solid considering the price.
Yes, players like Micromax are now offering Bharat 1 which has Facebook and WhatsApp on a feature phone as well, so JioPhone does have competition. Depending on the kind of use, JioPhone’s battery will last for more than two days, though if one spends all their time watching television shows on this, it will drain faster. Charging the JioPhone to full 100 per cent takes a while, expect more than three hours at the very least depending on battery levels.
Overall, the JioPhone does expand the boundaries of what a feature phone can achieve, but it is limited to the Jio universe for now.
Reliance JioPhone: So who should get it? Does everyone need it?
The JioPhone is meant to replace other feature phones in the market. For smartphone users, the JioPhone is very limited and has nothing to offer, so it is not meant for everyone. However, those who have been on feature phones and do not wish to upgrade or cannot afford to upgrade to a more expensive smartphone, can consider the JioPhone. It is also meant for those who are comfortable using feature phones and have no inclination to switch to touchscreens.