The long-awaited Jio Phone Next smartphone will be available from Diwali onwards at Rs. 6,499. The company said the phone will be available at a an "entry price" of Rs. 1,999, while the balance amount can be paid in EMIs over a period of up to 24 months.
The Jio Phone Next has been developed as part of a Jio-Google partnership to make an affordable smartphone with a custom OS. Google had invested Rs. 33,737 crore in Jio Platforms Limited in 2020 for a 7.73% stake.
The smartphone was earlier expected to launch on September 10, but was delayed due to the global semiconductor shortage, which as per Gartner's estimates will persist until the second quarter of 2022.
"The JioPhone Next is an affordable smartphone designed for India, inspired by the belief that everyone in India should benefit from the opportunities the internet creates. To build it, our teams had to work together to solve complex engineering and design challenges, and I’m excited to see how millions of people will use these devices to better their lives and communities," said Sundar Pichai CEO, Google and Alphabet in a statement.
Targeted at buyers moving from feature phones to smartphones for the first time, the Jio Phone Next runs on a custom version of Android, called Pragati OS, that Reliance Jio developed with Google. It is powered by an entry-level chipset by Qualcomm and comes with pre-loaded Jio apps.
Pragati OS will also offer language-centric functionalities, such as Translate Now, which can translate any content on the phone’s screen in 10 Indian languages. Similarly, the Read Aloud functionality can read out content on the screen in their preferred language.
"The pricing will not appeal to as many customers from the large feature phone segments to come to smartphone fold, as Jio intends to with this initiative," said Navkendar Singh, Research Director at the International Data Corporation (IDC). "Convincing a feature phone users to pay Rs 300 per month for device + data plan will be a massive a challenge given industry ARPU is around 200 and feature phone ARPU much lesser than that." he added.
That said, Singh noted that the JioPhone Next could still appeal to entry level buyers and the refurbished phone market.
The EMI plans have been classified into four categories for the convenience of customers. In the Always-on plan, the payment amount is Rs 300 per month over 24 months and Rs 350 per month over 18 months. In the Large Plan, it is Rs 450 per month over 24 months and Rs 500 per month over 18 months. In the XL Plan, it is Rs 500 per month over 24 months and Rs 550 per month over 18 months. In the XXL Plan, it is Rs 550 per month over 24 months and Rs 600 per month over 18 months.
Buyers can register their interest in the smartphone on www.Jio.com/Next or send a WhatsApp message saying ‘Hi’ on 70182-70182. After confirmation, they can collect the smartphone from their nearest Jio Mart digital retailers, the company said.