Reliance Jio has roped in budget phone-maker Intex to co-develop its 4G VoLTE feature phones that are likely to hit the market next month. While Jio and Intex will jointly produce the phones, its pricing and marketing would be handled by Jio alone, ET reports. Jio’s sharp rise in the market is largely driven by the increasing adoption of 4G VoLTE technology. Thus, its new launch is widely anticipated. Also Read - Jio Freedom Plans 2021: Jio launches 5 new prepaid plans with no daily data limit, unlimited voice callsAlso Read - How to recharge your Jio number via WhatsApp
Jio’s 4G VoLTE feature phone is expected to be priced at Rs 500. It could disrupt the lower-end of the market pretty much the same way it has impacted telecom pricing in India. Prior reports suggested that Jio was in talks with other manufacturers like Micromax and Lava too. It had even placed an order of 18-20 million 4G VoLTE feature phones with several Chinese device manufacturers. 91Mobiles had reported that Jio s feature phones will have 2.4-inch display, and will be powered by Spreadtrum or Qualcomm processors. Jio declined to comment when BGR India reached out. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio Rs 500 feature phone photos leaked ahead of launch Also Read - 5G JioPhone launch could be around Diwali this year, price to be around Rs 3,500
Jio’s bet on feature phones is definitely on target. Despite India’s growing smartphone penetration, feature phones account for more than half of mobiles sold. According to IDC, 29.7 million units of feature phones were shipped in January-March 2017. Smartphones shipped in that period were 27 million. Prominent handset makers like Nokia are serious about the feature phone market. HMD Global, Nokia’s parent company, recently unveiled its Rs 999 feature phone that will go on sale shortly. HMD Global said that over 400 million feature phones were sold globally in 2016.
With its speculated Rs 500 phone, Jio will look to tap into existing 2G customers, and make them switch to 4G with attractive bundled offers. The next wave of Jio’s growth could come from rural markets where feature phone penetration is higher than that of smartphones. And for manufacturers like Intex, which plans to start a new feature phone series called Navratna, it is a win-win situation. ALSO READ: Intex ELYT-e1 with 4G VoLTE, 2GB RAM launched, priced at Rs 6,999: Specifications, features