Remember the time when Reliance had launched a CDMA handset for Rs 500 with WAP services, free calls and SMSes over a decade back? Reliance has redone it in 2017 again with the Jio Phone- free calls, affordable data and again effectively costs Rs 500. The handset looks like any other feature phone but promises smartphone-like capabilities. And what’s more, it even promises NFC-powered digital payments.
Dubbed as “India ka smartphone” by Reliance Industry Chairman Mukesh Ambani himself, the Jio Phone aims to offer the best of both worlds. With Nokia’s failure to innovate and empower its brand new 3310 (2017) to make it useful for a 4G world, the Jio Phone seems to be well-poised to kill traditional feature phones and even take on substandard Android smartphones under Rs 4,000.
The Jio Phone is here only to bridge feature phone and smartphone users. For those of you, who are already using an Android smartphone, the Jio Phone could mean very less. But for 50 crore feature phone users in the country, the Jio Phone is the digital hope to enjoy the Internet. “India has 78 crore phones out of which 50 crores are feature phones and this is digital disempowerment and unfairness must end,” said Ambani at the Reliance AGM.
Several players had tried to disrupt the market by providing ultra-cheap Android smartphones. It was a known fact that smartphones had to get cheaper to reach the masses in India. Even a newbie in the form of Rs 251 Freedom smartphone tried to do it. But failed. While smartphone majors never really cared to focus on this 50 crore user base in India, others simply couldn’t afford to too come up with a feasible solution. The Jio Phone, out of nowhere, bridged this divide into opportunity for consumers and the industry alike. The Internet market in India now has access to potential 50 crore additional users and promises to migrate 2G subscribers (the majority in India) to 4G VoLTE at one go.
The Jio Phone with an effective cost of Rs zero can be purchased by paying a security deposit of Rs 1,500*. This amount is refundable after three years after the handset is returned (in working condition). Users can avail free calls, SMS, unlimited data and access to Jio apps for as little as Rs 153 per month with subscription to Jio DDD plans.
What’s more? The Jio Phone even aims to make old CRT TVs smart. User can connect their Jio Phone to TVs to watch live TV through app by paying Rs 309 per month additionally. While the Jio Phone looks just like any other feature phone, it still manages to differentiate with voice commands that recognises Hindi as well. You can talk to your Jio Phone (in Hindi) to make calls, send SMSes, play music and more. Other features include 2.40-inch QVGA display, microSD card slot, FM radio, basic camera, torch, etc.