It was perhaps anticipated. It was surely needed. Reliance Jio has confirmed that the company will be rolling out a truly affordable 4G smartphone for consumers. It is called the JioPhone Next and arrives later this year. The JioPhone Next was announced by Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd., at the company’s 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM). He went on to say that the JioPhone Next will be a “truly breakthrough smartphone”. The critical ingredient for this Android phone may well be the Google partnership, in terms of development and optimization of this customized version of Android, which will give the JioPhone the performance advantage which not many ultra-affordable affordable Android phones have. We do not know the pricing just yet, but Reliance Jio has confirmed that the JioPhone Next will be amongst the most affordable smartphones not just in India, but globally.
What do we know about the features? JioPhone Next users will get access to key Android services, including the Google Play Store. Some of the features that have been announced include voice assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation and smart camera with augmented reality filters. The Read Aloud and Translate Now will be system-wide features that will work with any text on their phone screen, including web pages, apps, messages, and even photos. The camera in the JioPhone Next will be optimised for low-light and dynamic range. Google has also partnered with Snap to integrate Indian-specific Snapchat Lenses directly into the phone’s camera. Google also confirms that the JioPhone Next will get the latest Android security updates as well as Android releases, though the support window isn’t confirmed at this time.
“Jio has truly democratized digital connectivity in India by offering the highest quality, most affordable 4G broadband services in the world. Google and Jio teams have jointly developed a truly breakthrough smartphone that we are calling JioPhone Next. JioPhone Next is powered by an extremely optimized version of the Android operating system,” says Mukesh Ambani. Reliance Jio has more than 425 million subscribers in India and has become the first mobile operator outside of China to cross the 400 million user mark. Reliance Jio is also the world’s second largest data carrier, with as much as 630 crore gigabytes (GB) of data traffic on the network every month. Jio has also invested as much as Rs 57,123 crore to get additional spectrum for their 4G network, and say that almost all of the new spectrum has been deployed. Reliance Jio says that they can add another 200 million new subscribers to their network, at its current specification.
“Our vision is to bring affordable access to information for Indians in their own language, to build new products and services for India’s unique needs, and to empower businesses with technology. I’m excited that today, we can announce the next steps in this vision, starting with a new, affordable Jio smartphone, created with Google. Our teams have optimized a version of our Android OS especially for this device,” says Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet. The JioPhone Next 4G phone will run an optimised version of Android, with the core Android functionality available for all users. This would include the Play Store as well as Play Protect. More specs of the JioPhone next, as well as the pricing and the subscription options for Jio prepaid and Jio postpaid users are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The promise of this being a super affordable Android phone, would have many potential customers waiting impatiently.