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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

JioPhone Next: A detailed look at the full pricing, who is this for?   

JioPhone Next is dubbed as the ‘cheapest’ smartphone in the market. But is it really the case? We take a look.  

Written by Chetan Nayak | Mumbai |
Updated: November 4, 2021 11:12:59 am
JioPhone Next, JioPhone Next features, JioPhone Next priceHere's a deeper look into the JioPhone Next EMI plans. (Image Source: YouTube/ Jio)

The JioPhone Next, a device by Reliance Jio and Google, is supposed to be one of the most affordable smartphones in the market with a ‘disruptive’ pricing. But is that really the case? We take a deep dive into the JioPhone Next, its prices, and who should consider getting the device.

JioPhone Next pricing: Full cost, what you pay, etc 

The JioPhone Next is priced at Rs 6,499 upfront. Now, the price does seem high, compared to devices like Redmi 9A, which is priced at just Rs 500 more and offers better specifications in pretty much every aspect, from processor to battery life and design. But what makes the JioPhone Next much harder to simply ignore is the financing scheme.

One can get the phone at Rs 1,999 and pay the rest of the EMIs over a period of either 18 months or 24 months, which is a fairly long duration for an EMI. But the fine print also mentions a processing fee of Rs 501. So you buy the phone at Rs 1999 + Rs 501 = Rs 2,500, an amount that you will pay up front.

Now let’s take a look at how the EMI works. Users are offered a choice between a number of 18 month/24 month EMI plans. If you add up the EMI amounts of 18 months or 24 months, and add the Rs 2,500 that you paid initially, you will find out that the total cost of the phone goes anywhere between Rs 8,800 and Rs 15,700.

One argument is that the EMI plans are inclusive of the data and calling pack, but a quick calculation and deduction of the equivalent recharge packs from Jio’s catalog of plans shows that the phone does end up costing more.

For instance, if you choose the 18 months ‘Large Plan’, the total at the end of the tenure is Rs 1,999 + Rs 501 + (Rs 500 X 18 months) which equals Rs 11,500. The large plan gives 1.5GB of data per day, which is the same as Jio’s Rs 199 prepaid monthly plan. Just the data plans per month would cost around Rs 3582 over a period of 18 months.

Now if you subtract the total cost of the same data plan separately for these 18 months (which is Rs 199 per month), you still pay Rs 7,918 in total, which is higher than the upfront amount you would pay for the phone.

So as with any EMI scheme, what you will end up paying over 18 months is going to be much higher than what you would pay upfront.

JioPhone Next EMI vs other schemes in the market 

The JioPhone Next’s biggest selling point is that it is available on financing for those who can’t shell out a lot of cash when purchasing a phone. It means you can get the phone by just paying Rs 2,500 up front and the rest can be paid in installments as low as Rs 300, which will make it appealing to many folks, especially those on feature phones and who want to make the switch.

But it needs to be pointed out that EMI schemes are now available on most devices. For example, the Redmi 9A has EMI plans starting at as low as Rs 388 for a period of 24 months, depending on the bank. With interest rates and processing fees (Rs 199 in case of HDFC Bank), it does push up the overall cost of the phone to Rs 9,000 plus. And if you factor in data plans, then the cost goes up further by another Rs 3,000-4,000 given what plan you prefer.

With Jio, the ease is in how the EMI is being offered. One does not have to bother with a debit or credit card, which is still a rarity in India for many customers. Rather, the installment is paid as recharges each month.

The target for JioPhone Next are users who might not always have financing options such as credit cards or debit cards. It is meant for those users who do not have a lot of cash to spare and want a simpler way to get a feature/smartphone.

JioPhone Next: What we don’t know 

While the JioPhone comes with a lot of features aimed at users who might not be comfortable with English, such as the ability to translate any text or image on the screen into the user’s regional language, how it performs in daily usage will be crucial. On paper, the specifications are still not as good as other budget phones and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 processor and 2GB RAM and 32GB RAM are very basic.

The other big disadvantage with the JioPhone Next will likely be the restriction on SIM usage. Now with most other smartphones you are free to use the SIM of your choice. However, on the JioPhone Next, one SIM will have to be the Jio SIM, which will be limiting for users, especially if they wish to switch services. Thankfully this is a dual SIM and hopefully Jio will allow using another SIM on the device.

There are also constant on-screen reminders that the phone is provided via a finance scheme and that the device may be locked if the EMIs are not paid on time. These reminders are seen as pop ups and in notification banners. This is also something you won’t find in other phones purchased via third-party financing schemes.

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