Reliance Jio has been planning to launch its 4G feature phone for quite some time now, and now it is expected that the rollout will be sometime later this month or by August 2017. It has also been suggested that the network provider will introduce its new mobile tariff plans. While reports and rumours have bene doing the rounds regarding the price of the 4G VoLTE feature phone, a new report in The Economic Times suggests that it will come with a price tag of just Rs 500. Meanwhile, the launch of 4G feature phones would be in phased manner and it is expected that in the first phase, around 10-11 lakh phones would come to the market. The company might go with a similar strategy that it had applied with the introduction of its Lyf brand of 4G smartphones.
Meanwhile, sources have informed FE that the announcement about the launch of 4G feature phones might be done at the Reliance Industries’ Annual General Meeting. The AGM this year, has been scheduled on July 21 in Mumbai. In 2016, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani had announced the commercial launch of Jio at the company’s AGM on September 1. After this, Jio had started its operations from September 5 and it totally disrupted the Indian telecom sector. Meanwhile, the ET report quoted an HSBC telecom analyst Rajiv Sharma, who said, “Jio will likely launch a feature phone with 4G capability at a price of Rs 500 (sub-$8).” While the price may seem too good to be true, earlier reports had suggested that the device could be in the range of Rs 1,800, but Jio might subsidise the price to bring it within the range of Rs 1,300-1,500.
Jio has not responded to an e-mail query on the matter. What we know is that the handset will be marketed under Lyf brand of phones and will be sold through the Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail stores. The Jio 4G feature phone is expected to come with 512 MB RAM and will have an internal storage of 4 GB and also include an SD card slot for expanding storage. The phone is expected to sport a 2-megapixel camera. The devices are expected to be WiFi enabled and come with near field communications (NFC) technology, which will help the user to make digital transactions too. The company has already tested the 4G feature phone at its facilities in Chennai and some other centres.
The 4G VoLTE enabled feature phone, if priced around the range that is expected, will massively disrupt the dynamics of the Indian mobile market, as Jio’s network is entirely on 4G VoLTE, and thus it left out the huge majority of feature phone audience in India. Reliance Jio, which already has, over 100 million subscribers in India, has seen growth slow down.
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If it gets the wave of 2G subscribers, it could mean further bad news for its rivals. Almost all features phones just support 2G networks in the country. However, companies like Lava and Micromax had recently launched feature phones with 4G capabilities. But, these devices are priced at the Rs 3,000 and above range. But whether the phone will actually come at a price of Rs 500 or not, we will have to wait and see.