Reliance JioPhone Is Official - All You Need To Know

Reliance JioPhone Launched on July 21st 2017

July 21st, 2017; Friday. The much leaked and rumored feature phone by Reliance was launched by Chairman Mukesh Ambani at the Reliance Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2017. With the feature phone, Reliance aims to end the 2G era and help people move to 4G at low prices. Mr. Ambani also claims the phone to be *effectively* free. In this post, let's uncover all the details of the JioPhone.

This is what Mr. Ambani said while launching the JioPhone at the Reliance AGM 2017:

Let me introduce India ka Intelligent SmartPhone – Presenting JioPhone.
  • First, On the JioPhone, Voice will always be free. Currently, the 50 Cr feature phone users are charged Rs. 1.2 to 1.5 per minute for basic voice calling. They end up spending their entire month’s telecom budget of Rs. 150 – 200 only to get 150 minutes of basic voice.With Jio’s network coverage reaching 99% of India’s population, and by making voice calls free, this potentially empowers each and every Indian to make free voice calls to any operator anywhere in India.
  • Second, The 50 Crore feature phone users don’t even have access to basic internet and apps. To enable a Digital Life, they need access to Data at affordable rates. Starting 15th of August this year, I am declaring Digital Freedom for all Jio feature phone users. Jio will give them access to Unlimited 4G Data on the JioPhone. If these feature phone users were to consume a similar quantity of data on other operator’s network, they would spend over Rs. 4,000 – 5,000 per month at prevailing 2G data rates. Jio will provide this at only Rs. 153 per month.. that is one-thirtieth the price. I am putting an end to unaffordable data, with this all unlimited, Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan plan of Rs. 153 per month for the JioPhone! There will be a fair usage policy of half a GB per day, to ensure that bandwidth is fairly apportioned for every user.
  • Third, Many JioPhone users might like to view their favorite content such as live TV, movies, education on the big screen of their television sets.This is especially true in many remote parts of India where even cable TV and the high-speed internet have not reached yet. Our young Jio engineers have created an innovation to help them — a special and affordable “JioPhone TV cable” that connects JioPhone with any TV, not just a smart TV, so that all JioPhone users can enjoy viewing on the big screen of their existing television sets. Along with this accessory, users can opt for the existing Jio Dhan Dhan Dhan Rs. 309 pack that would allow users to watch almost 3-4 hours of videos daily, of their choice, on a large screen.
  • Fourth, We are well aware that many of these users find it difficult to commit Rs. 153 up front. In order to fit every pocket, we are also introducing 2 sachets – a weekly plan for Rs. 53 and a 2-day plan for Rs. 23, that provide similar value.

Specifications & Features

JioPhone Specifications
Features Of the JioPhone / Click to enlarge
The JioPhone comes with a with a 2.4-inch QVGA display, T9 alphanumeric keypad, media players, FM Radio, 4-way navigation key, flashlight, rear & front cameras, SD card support (Up to 16GB) and support for 22 Indian languages. What's interesting is that there's also a voice recognition feature that can take and process voice commands such as calling someone, accepting/rejecting a call, open apps, send texts and so on.
When it comes to the phone's Operating System, we're not informed whether it uses a highly skinned version of Android or Symbian or any other in-house OS developed by Reliance. It'll be interesting to see if the phone supports third party applications (like WhatsApp). The phone also comes loaded with Jio's suite of apps like the Jio TV & Jio Music. Users can also connect the JioPhone to their televisions, no matter old or new, to cast media on the TV, using a "JioPhone TV Cable." The said cable might be an Aux to VGA/RCA conversion cable that shall be provided for free with the phone. 
It's also worth a mention that the feature phone also comes with NFC and this shall allow for Tap & Pay support. 

Pricing and Availability

The JioPhone is priced at Rs. 0 (Zero), at-least according to Reliance. As per the official statement, the phone shall be totally free, but to avoid any potential misuse by the customer, the buyers will have to pay Rs. 1500 as a security deposit, which is totally refundable. Customers shall get the complete amount refunded after 3 years of buying the phone. At the time of writing this article though, it is not clear whether the buyer needs to return the phone to get the refund or not; and whether the refund amount shall get back to the customer as cash or some other way around (e.g., Jio Recharge Coupons). We shall update this post as and when we get further information.
Regarding availability, the early testing of the phone begins from 15th of August (i.e., Indian Independence Day) and pre orders start from 24th of August. The phone shall be available to pre-order from 24th of August on Jio's official e-commerce store: AJIO, their mobile application MyJio, and also all Reliance Digital Xpress and Digital Xpress Mini outlets. The JioPhone will be made in India and will start shipping out to customers by September.

Is the JioPhone really Free?

Effectively, Yes. Technically, No. When a buyer pays Rs. 1500 for something and then the total amount is refunded to him later, it can be said that he/she bought the product for free. But when we think a little more, the Rs. 1500 is rather an investment that the customer makes and then with this money, the makers of the phone make their investment. It is obvious that the company would be able to recover all expenses applied in the manufacturing of the phone, and then make more profits with the money they manage to gather in the three years. They then should have no problems returning the Rs. 1500 after having made some profit out of it.

But still, the amount of features and value provided by the JioPhone is unmatched and has no competition. India is a price sensitive market and such strategy puts both the customer and the manufacturer in a win-win situation. We are definitely looking forward to long queues, heavy rush and a good market for the JioPhone. Meanwhile, let us know what you think of the phone. Hit your thoughts down in the comments section below, and do share the post if you find it useful!

Until next time,
Peace Out!

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