Reliance launched JioPhone in India for an effective price of ₹0
Yes, you read it correctly. There is no typo in the title.
The founder of Reliance Jio, Mukesh Ambani on Friday launched what he called an “effectively free” 4G-enabled feature phone handset during the Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) 40th annual general meeting (AGM) in Mumbai. The company calls the handset ‘India ka smartphone — JioPhone‘.
“The JioPhone would be available for an effective price ₹0,” Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, RIL said.
Further, the company says that the customers would be required to pay a refundable security deposit of ₹1,500 for three years, “for security reasons”. After three years, you can return the phone, and get a full refund on the deposit. Voice, SMS, and data along with Jio apps will come free with an affordable monthly plan of ₹153, Jio announced. The company will also offer similar features for a weekly plan for ₹54, and a two-day plan of ₹24 for the users who don’t want to commit to ₹153 as an upfront payment.
The specs of the JioPhone are as follows:
The JioPhone with 4G VoLTE feature phone sports a square design, along with a 24-inch QVGA display. It comes with an Alphanumeric keypad and a dedicated button for Torchlight. It features a headphone jack, microphone, speaker, and supports FM Radio as well. The 4G VoLTE-enabled JioPhone supports all languages, and users can speak to the device via voice commands. The company is giving people an option to browse the Internet on the new JioPhone as well. This means users can watch movies on the 2.4-inch screen using the JioCinema app. Other features of the Jio 4G VoLTE feature phone include SOS feature, which can be activated by pressing 5, support for NFC that enables quick payments, and the ability to cast content.
“Today Jio is going to reinvent the conventional feature phone,” he announced. The company claims that the JioPhone is the “most intelligent affordable phone in the whole world.” The JioPhone was introduced by Akash and Isha Ambani, revealing the phone’s support voice commands, along with standard feature phone functionality. Isha Ambani said that the phone looks familiar by design, to ensure that it is easy to use.
The phone comes with a number of apps and browser installed aside from Jio’s offerings too. The company will also be adding NFC support to the JioPhone to allow tap and payment solutions with a linked bank account, Akash Ambani said. This will also support UPI payments, and debit and credit card payments, similar to Samsung Pay, he said.
“On the JioPhone voice will always be free, second, the 50 crore feature phone users don’t even have access to basic internet. I believe today every young Indian should have access to information at his fingertips and that is what the JioPhone enables. To enable a digital life all need access to data at affordable rates. So starting August 15 this year I am declaring digital freedom for all feature phone users. Jio will give them access to unlimited data on the JioPhone,” Ambani said.
Let’s have a quick look on Reliance Jio’s accomplishment. Reliance Jio launched its 4G service commercially on September 5, 2016, offering free data and voice services. It crossed 50 million subscribers in just a matter of 83 days, and 100 million in 170 days, having added an average 6 lakh subscribers per day.
“There are estimated 78 crore mobile phones in India. However, in this 78 crore, there are more than 50 crore feature phone users, who have been left out. They can neither afford the cheapest LTE smartphone, nor the exorbitant cost of data. Data is the oxygen of digital life, and no Indian should suffer because of unaffordability. Sadly the vast majority of mobile users are starved of data. This unfairness must end, and Jio is committing to ending it today,” Mukesh Ambani pointed out.
To accomplish this, the company needs to deliver on three pillars, Ambani said — connectivity, data affordability, and device affordability. “Jio is a data strong network built for the Internet from the ground up,” he said. “The TRAI speed test portal has consistently ranked Jio as the clear 4G network leader in coverage, usage, and data speeds.”
“Our network continues to rapidly expand. Jio, in the next 12 months, will cover 99 percent of the population. India’s 4G coverage will be more than its 2G coverage,” he added. To meet the need for device affordability, the company realized it would have to release a 4G VoLTE feature phone, as even an entry level smartphone costs between ₹3,000 and ₹4,500, Ambani said.
The handset will be available from August 15 — for testing, in beta, and for pre-booking from August 24. Users who pre-book will be able to buy the phone from September, on a first come first serve basis. It will come with a couple of different data packs. As said earlier, users can either pay ₹153 per month, or they can pay ₹309 per month, to get an extra benefit of having the support for mirroring your screen on a TV, via a cable that can even be plugged into not just Smart TVs but even the old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TVs. All JioPhone users can enjoy viewing their Jio content on their phones from their TV screens, Ambani said.