JioPhone Next, Jio’s much-awaited entry-level 4G smartphone is on track to launch in India by Diwali, Alphabet Inc. and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during a recent earnings call. The JioPhone Next is being co-developed by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio and Google.
Initially pegged to release on September 10, the launch of JioPhone Next was postponed due to the global semiconductor shortage. Jio and Google have previously announced that the duo has made ‘considerable’ progress and is “actively working to make it available more widely in time for the Diwali festive season.”
| JioPhone Next runs ‘Pragati OS,’ Jio announces key features ahead of Diwali launch
JioPhone Next is said to be “Made in India, Made for India and Made by Indians” and is seemingly built keeping in mind the needs of millions of new users looking to experience the internet for the very first time. Jio says it has worked closely with Google, particularly on the software side to enhance localisation so more users will be able to access the smartphone in their preferred language.
“The JioPhone Next device features premium localised capabilities and is on track to launch in market by Diwali,” Pichai said, adding “we see the demand for people looking to shift from feature phones to smartphones. And so, part of what excites me about the upcoming partnership with Jio in building a phone is really investing beyond just English, and getting languages, and getting the local needs right for people and doing it in a way that many more people can take advantages of a smartphone.”
| JioPhone Next: A quick first look at Jio’s first 4G smartphone, features, availability and other details
JioPhone Next runs ‘Pragati OS’ which is based on Android. The extent of customisation that Jio R&D and Google have done remains unknown for now—it isn’t clear if it’s Android Go with custom skin layout on top—though it’s said to bundle features like voice assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters, and more. Jio and Google are also promising swift rollout of latest Android features and security updates for JioPhone Next.
More than the hardware itself, it’s what the JioPhone Next stands for that really sets it apart from other smartphones. The JioPhone and JioPhone 2 were pivotal in bringing a lot of people online, as per Jio, and the JioPhone Next marks the next chapter that’s intended to lessen the digital divide, something that Pichai has also highlighted.
“I view it as laying the foundation of digital transformation and its palpable demand we see, and I think over a three to five-year time frame, it will end up having a lot of impact,” he said.
Jio’s debut smartphone will be powered by a Qualcomm system-on-chip and will likely cost below Rs 5,000. Rumour mills suggest it will be priced around Rs 3,499. It will sport a 13MP camera on the back and will be manufactured at Jio’s Neolync facility in Tirupati and Sriperumbudur. More details including exact date of launch are awaited.