The long-rumoured Jio feature phone is likely to be announced at the Reliance AGM on Friday, July 21 as the company looks set to bring about sweeping changes in the mobile phone sector. While Chinese OEMs would be the obvious partners, Indian brands are not off Jio's radar either. An official at Intex Technologies has confirmed to Gadgets 360 that it is in talks with the telecom upstart to manufacture the upcoming Jio feature phone. As the discussions are still going on, Jio and Intex have not yet reached a final figure for the number of units to be manufactured.
A 4G VoLTE-enabled handset, the Reliance Jio feature phone is said to be aimed at feature phone users who have not been able to move to the Jio network because of the prohibitory costs of smartphones. An earlier report pegged the total order size at 18-20 million units, with the launch expected on August 15. However, the Intex official said the company has not received an order size from Jio yet as the talks are still are going on.
The official, on the other hand, did confirm that Intex and Jio are partnering on the smartphone front. Upcoming Intex smartphones will come with bundled Jio plans, likely offering additional data to consumers, as well as preloaded apps, such as JioTV and JioCinema. Intex is hosting a smartphone launch event on Thursday, July 20 in New Delhi.
Separately, an ET Telecom report claims Intex is manufacturing the Jio feature phone but the pricing and marketing of the device will fall under the telecom operator’s purview. It also said the operator is subsidising the cost of the handset, which will launch “this quarter.” Regarding order size, the report says Intex has a ballpark figure from Jio, but adds that the company first wants to "test the waters."
The operator is said to be in talks with Chinese OEMs such as Zhejiang Techain Electronics Technology Co., Shenzhen CHINO-E Communication Co, Crave and Megaphone to manufacture the device as well. With manufacturing plans still not finalised with Intex, it is likely the first batches of the Jio feature phone will be sourced from China.
The Jio feature phone is expected to be an ultra-affordable 4G VoLTE-enabled handset without a touchscreen but with many smartphone-like features. As a 4G VoLTE handset, it will work on Jio’s network, and will reportedly have features such as Internet tethering, video calling, and access to Jio content, for example movies, and TV shows. Widely expected to be priced at Rs. 500 for the public, the handset will be subsidised, and feature a custom OS (KAI OS) and an app marketplace (KaiOS Plus). The Reliance Jio 4G feature phone is even said to have a digital voice assistant with support for Indian languages.
As for the hardware specifications, the Jio feature phone is said to have a 2.4-inch colour display, 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage, up to 128GB microSD card support, dual SIM functionality (Nano SIM + Standard SIM), 2-megapixel rear camera, and VGA front camera. Reports also say users will get 2000mAh battery, FM radio, and Bluetooth 4.1 + LE with the handset. Jio plans, priced around Rs. 80-90, are also expected to be announced for the feature phone buyers.