In a market where the hype has been around smartphones, Reliance Jio’s JioPhone hopes to change the narrative. The JioPhone is a feature phone, but with some smart features, and was launched at Reliance Industries Ltd’s 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) by chairman Mukesh Ambani. With its ‘effective price of Rs 0,’ JioPhone has managed to grab the spotlight for the company. But who is the JioPhone meant for and what does it really bring to the table? Here are answers to all the questions:
What is the JioPhone? What are the specifications of this device?
Reliance JioPhone is a feature phone unlike any other, since it comes with 4G VoLTE connectivity. While most feature phones are still on 2G, 3G networks, Reliance JioPhone will work on the company’s 4G VoLTE network. In addition to this, there’s the option of running Jio apps such as JioTV and JioMusic. Then there are voice commands, which can be used to carry out tasks on this phone.
The single-SIM feature phone has an Alphanumeric keypad like other feature phones, and a 2.4-inch QVGA display. Reliance has not put out the complete specifications but the company at the AGM confirmed that the device has a headphone jack, microphone, speaker, and FM Radio feature. There’s also VGA camera on board on the back, along with support for a SD card to expand storage. The feature phone also gets an SOS option, and this can be enabled by long pressing the number five on the keypad.
There’s still some speculation on which processor will be powering the JioPhone. Qualcomm India had announced the JioPhone will be powered by their Snapdragon 205 processor. Another player Spreadtrum has also said their processors will be part of the phone. There’s a chance that some units could be powered by Qualcomm, while others by Spreadtrum. Jio has itself not confirmed the manufacturer for this smartphone, though reports have said Intex, Foxconn are possible partners. JioPhone will also get NFC payments in the future, but there’s no confirmed date for this. Finally, JioPhone also has a separate JioCable accessory, which can be used to connect the phone with any regular television set to stream content from the JioApps. The price for the accessory has not been announced by the company.
What’s the price of the JioPhone? Is it really free of cost?
JioPhone might have an ‘effective price’ of Rs 0, but the phone isn’t free. JioPhone users will have to pay Rs 1,500 as security deposit at the time of purchase. The deposit is 100 per cent refundable, but only after three years. A user will have to return the phone to claim this amount. Then, of course, there’s added cost of monthly packs.
What are the data plans for the Reliance JioPhone?
Data plans for the JioPhone start at as low as Rs 24 going up all the way to Rs 153. This data plan will give unlimited calling (local, national), and unlimited daily data. But this unlimited data has a catch, and the daily Fair Usage Policy (FUP) limit is 500 MB or half a GB of data. So, effectively, the plan gives 14 GB of data for the 28-day recharge period. The Rs 24 pack is valid for 2 days, Rs 54 for a week, and offer unlimited calls (local and national) along with free 4G data. Reliance has not confirmed if there is a daily FUP on the data in these plans.
The JioTV pack starts at Rs 309, and the plan will offer unlimited voice calls (local and national) and 1 GB data per day to stream the content. Also, the Rs 153, Rs 24 and Rs 54 packs can only be used on the JioPhone. If you upgrade from this to a smartphone, you will need to change your Jio data plans.
When will the JioPhone go on sale? How can users purchase this feature phone?
The ‘public beta’ testing starts from August 15, but Jio has not specified how users can register for this. Officially, pre-bookings will open from August 24 and the phone will be on sale from the month of September. To pre-book the phone, users can register on the jio.com website or go to a Jio store.
Is the SIM locked to this device?
A 4G SIM from another telecom operator can’t be used for this feature phone. If a user has a Jio SIM already, that can also be used with this phone, but the plan will have to change to Rs 153. The higher value data plans from Jio won’t be valid for this device.
Will the JioPhone be a game changer? What are analysts saying about this device?
The phone is being hailed as a game-changer simply because this is a feature phone unlike any other in the market and with a really low cost. For Jio, which is entirely on a 4G VoLTE network, this was the only way of getting all those 2G, 3G users who were still using feature phones. It also means that there’s now a feature phone in the market, where people can stream content from 4G network. However, IDC analyst Jaipal Singh said that the JioPhone won’t be a category killer, and there will be some challenges for the company. He argues that for Jio, “it will be a challenge to convert the larger sub-Rs 1,000 user base, who make up around 40 per cent of the feature phone markets”.