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Why Reliance Jio needs a 4G feature phone

While feature phones have traditionally been associated with 2G or 3G, Jio has no option but to offer a 4G feature phone.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan |
Updated: March 11, 2017 8:31:00 am
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Why on earth would you need a 4G feature phone? The concept of a feature phone and 4G speeds just does not seem to go together. But we have been hearing too much chatter about Reliance Jio launching a 4G feature phone in the Indian market.

Well, there is a sound reason for this awkward combination. Reliance Jio will have to launch a 4G feature phone in the market if it wants to tap those customers who can’t afford, or don’t need a smartphone. While feature phones have traditionally been associated with 2G or 3G, Jio has no option but to offer a 4G feature phone. That is because this new operator has only the 4G band to offer, even for voice calls. This peculiar situation will give rise to a new segment altogether, unseen in other markets.

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However, it is not that easy. At least one local player has launched its 4G feature phone in recent days. However, the Lava 4G Connect M1 is priced Rs 3,333 almost defeating the purpose. To make this segment viable the phone has to be priced below Rs 2,000. If the buyer can afford more, he can push himself to buy a smartphone maybe without 4G.The Catch-22 situation here is that below a certain price point, Jio will have no device to offer the customer.

Also read: Reliance Jio Prime membership: Why you will need to switch before March 31

Smartphone makers have over the years realised that really cheap devices — those in the sub $50 range — are still not able to offer an experience good enough to retain the customer. And this is critical in the Indian market, especially since the biggest lure of moving to a smartphone is the ability to consume video.

So, if at all Reliance Jio comes up with a really affordable 4G feature phone — the chances of which are looking increasingly high at the moment — it would be because of an operator demand and not a consumer demand.

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