At the Reliance AGM on Friday, JioPhone was introduced as “India ka Smartphone”, by Chairman Mukesh Ambani for an “effective price of Rs. 0” – But a fully refundable amount of Rs 1500 was to be paid at the time of purchase which will be fully refunded after three years. The JioPhone will include access to apps like JioCinema, JioTV, and JioMusic. The phone comes with a number of apps and a browser installed aside from Jio’s offerings too.
The JioPhone was introduced by Akash and Isha Ambani, revealing the phone’s support voice commands, along with standard feature phone functionality. Isha Ambani said that the phone looks familiar by design, to ensure that it is easy to use.
The company will also be adding NFC support to the JioPhone to allow tap and payment solutions with a linked bank account, Akash Ambani said. This will also support UPI payments, and debit and credit card payments, similar to Samsung Pay, he said.
The phone will be available from August 15 – for testing, in beta, and for pre-booking from August 24. Users who pre-book will be able to buy the phone from September, on a first come first serve basis. It will come with a couple of different data packs. Users can either pay Rs. 153 per month, for which they will get free voice and SMS, and unlimited data, along with Jio apps, or they can pay Rs. 309 per month, to get all this, plus the support for mirroring your screen on a TV, via a cable that can even be plugged into CRT TVs. After three years, you can return the phone, and get a full refund on the deposit.
Besides that, the company will also have two sachet packs, at Rs. 24 for two days, or Rs. 54 per week, for users who don’t want to commit to Rs. 153 as an upfront payment.
Mukesh Ambani was quoted saying at the launch of the phone that, “There are 78 crore mobile phones in India,” Mukesh Ambani pointed out. “However, in this 78 crore, there are more than 50 crore feature phone users, who have been left out. They can neither afford the cheapest LTE smartphone, nor the exorbitant cost of data.”
He further added “Data is the oxygen of digital life, and no Indian should suffer because of unaffordability,” he added. “Sadly the vast majority of mobile users are starved of data. This unfairness must end, and Jio is committing to ending it today.”
To accomplish this, the company needs to deliver on three pillars, Ambani said – connectivity, data affordability, and device affordability. “Jio is a data strong network built for the Internet from the ground up,” he said. “The TRAI speed test portal has consistently ranked Jio as the clear 4G network leader in coverage, usage, and data speeds.”
“Our network continues to rapidly expand. Jio, in the next 12 months, will cover 99 percent of the population. India’s 4G coverage will be more than its 2G coverage,” he added. To meet the need for device affordability, the company realized it would have to release a 4G VoLTE feature phone, as even an entry level smartphone costs between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 4,500, Ambani said.