Today at the Reliance Annual General Meeting, Mr. Mukesh Ambani said that around 50 crore feature phone users in India are currently left deprived of the ease of data connectivity, unlike their affluent smartphone using counterpart. He said that exorbitant 2G data tariffs are sucking their pockets dry. To bridge this digital divide he said that we need three major features.
Connectivity – For five consecutive months, TRAI has declared that Jio is the fastest data provider.
Data Affordability – People with feature phones spend more on data and calling plans than the people using smartphones.
Device Affordability – The most affordable smartphone currently available costs between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,500, which is much more than the cost of feature phones.
To tackle all of the above features, Reliance Jio today released the Jio Phone in India. This is a 4G VoLTE enabled feature phone which as per Mr. Ambani is Made In/For/By India. As we had previously predicted this phone comes with a Jio branding and not LYF branding. The Jio phone supports 22 of India’s major languages, it comes with a basic voice assistant which lets you give the phone voice commands like saying call someone, or message someone. The phone will also come with all of Jio’s apps preloaded to give you a better experience.
Tariff Plans for the Jio Phone
The Jio Phone will come with the Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan offer which will cost its users Rs. 153 per month, it will include Unlimited Voice Calls, Unlimited Data, and All the Jio Apps for free. Reliance also said that they would be releasing a TV Cable along with the phone to connect the phone to a television, this phone will also support old CRT TV’s even. To watch content on a big screen Jio Phone users will have to pay Rs. 309 per month for the pack.
Jio users can also get sachets instead of the Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan plan which would cost Rs. 24 for two days, and Rs. 54 for a week with the same data and voice benefits.
Reliance Jio Phone Price
The Jio Phone will be available to users at an effective cost of Rs. 0, but the consumers will have to pay a one-time refundable security deposit of Rs. 1,500. The amount will be refundable after three years when the users return the phone.
The Jio Phone will be available for Beta Testing on August 15 and pre-bookings for the phone will start from August 24. Both of these will be done on a first come first serve basis. And the users who pre-booked the device will start getting the phone in September.
Since the introduction of Reliance Jio into the telecom sector, regardless of what disruptions may have occured, the user was always the one benefitting. With the Jio Phone, Reliance is now trying to reach out to a market previous untapped, mostly the rural areas of India where the typical user may not own a smartphone. During the AGM, Mr. Ambani also announced that the company will be setting up outlets at the tehsil level, which should significantly help with the penetration of Reliance’s Jio Phone in the surrounding areas. However, the entry point of Rs. 1500 isn’t exactly low, even if the company promises a full refund after 3 years. It remains to be seen just how successful the company’s new phone will be in connecting a largely ignored section of the Indian population to the digital world.