The Reliance Jio feature phone, which was unveiled on Friday as the JioPhone aims to bridge the digital divide between the haves with smartphones, and the have nots who tote feature phones. With an upfront cost of just Rs. 1,500 - which can be refunded in three years - it's one of the cheapest ways for people to get access to 4G data, and it's being backed up by special plans that sound really good on paper. However, there's some fine print that wasn't announced when the phone was revealed.
Although the JioPhone data plans announced on stage mentioned ‘unlimited' data access, Gadgets 360 has learnt that there is actually a daily usage limit - a fair usage policy. Users can access only up to 500MB (half a gigabyte) of high-speed Internet data daily when paying for the Rs. 153 plan. After crossing that limit, you can still use Internet - hence the use of the word ‘unlimited - but the speeds will drop and will only reset at the end of the day.
Notably, with the Rs. 309 Jio plan - which Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said will be needed for you to use the Jio Phone TV-Cable - you get access to 1GB of high-speed data per day, and that is for 56 days, so you get four times as much data.
Also, although the JioPhone includes a number of apps - on stage, the Mann Ki Baat app was demonstrated, and we also spotted Facebook, the phone does not support WhatsApp “at the moment”, Gadgets 360 understand. There is a possibility that WhatsApp will be added later, although we're surprised that it's not in the launch lineup, considering it is immensely popular in India with 200 million active users in India as of February 2017. Of course, Reliance Jio has its own chat platform, JioChat, so perhaps it sees the opportunity in reaching an audience that hasn't adopted WhatsApp already? We will find out.
As we get closer to August 24, when people can pre-book a JioPhone, we expect more of these details will become clear but it's not new for Jio to keep a lot of the details in the fine print. The company did the same thing in September, during the launch of Reliance Jio. At the time, announcing its Welcome Offer, the company made no announcement about the 4GB FUP limit that was in place at the time.
What's more, Reliance Jio talked about unlimited night usage, but didn't mention that this was only for a short three-hour window, from 2AM to 5AM. Reliance also talked about a rate of Rs. 50/ GB, but the actual pricing came to be a lot higher, for the vast majority of its plans.
The JioPhone launch seems to be following a similar pattern, and we're left to wonder what other fine print is going to turn up in the next couple of days.
The Jio Phone looks awesome but is there any catch? We discussed that on our weekly technology podcast Orbital, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.