JioPhone: Release date, booking, price and more

In last one year, Indian telecom industry has seen the biggest turnaround of all time. While faster data came for a price and affordability was an issue, arrival of Jio entirely changed the way Indians use mobile internet. The record breaking telecom company is close to completing a year in the country, and it already has more than 125 million customers, thanks to its free unlimited services. Well, who can forget the never-ending queues outside Reliance stores, legal war between telcos and media houses minting page views and TRP on Jio.

Once again, Jio makes a comeback for haunting competing telcos with its alluring data offerings and disrupting existing price trends. Unlike previous announcements, there is no attractive data or voice offer, but it’s the much awaited JioPhone itself. 

How much does JioPhone cost?

Technically, JioPhone’s effective price is Rs 0, but users will have to pay a sum of Rs 1500, which is refundable after completion of three years. But in a practical sense, there's hardly anyone keeping the same phone for three long years. Even if someone manages, it’s likely to catch hardware or software issue like most other phones. 

Jio has not clarified about the repair cost or warranty of the phone till now. However, we expect the phone to come with at least one of year warranty. 

What are JioPhone recharge plans?

JioPhone buyers can recharge with Rs 153 to avail free voice, SMS and unlimited data for a month. There are two more Jio sachet plans at Rs 24 with two days validity and Rs 54 with seven days validity. Users can go for a Rs 309 plan, which allows them to watch video content from the Jio Apps on a bigger screen.

How to buy a JioPhone?

The phone will first reach into fewer hands during its beta testing phase starting August 15, while regular customers can pre-book JioPhone from August 24 onwards. Those who are chasing the feature phone can head over to MyJio app, Jio official website or a Reliance Digital Xpress stores to pre-book. It is not officially confirmed, but we expect the devices to start shipping from September onwards.

How and where to pre-register for JioPhone?

To register you can head over to Jio.com and choose the suitable option – individual or business. You can submit your details like name, email, phone number and pin code for individual registration. Businesses can leave their contact name, business name, PAN or GSTN number and the number of devices required.

SMS Booking-

You can also register for a JioPhone via SMS. All you need to do for this is send an SMS in the following format.

JP <PIN CODE> <Store code>

Send the above message to 7021170211.

In the above message, you will have to find and enter the Jio store code by visiting the nearest Jio store or a Reliance Digital outlet.

Offline Booking-

You can also book your JioPhone by visiting the nearest Reliance Digital or Jio store or other authorized Jio retailers. You will have to submit a copy of your Aadhaar card. In some instances, the retailer may not require you to submit your Aadhaar card, but it’s best to carry one just in case.

Why is JioPhone a great deal?

For those who need a perfect secondary phone or a feature phone that has support for 4G and runs essential apps, then JioPhone is the right choice. What makes it unique is its price and data plans, and the TV connectivity feature. 

If you do some calculations, JioPhone users are going to get unlimited data and voice by paying just Rs 1853 (153 x 12) over a year. Rs 153 a month plan gets you 500MB of high-speed data, which drops down to 128Kb/s after you exhaust 500Mb. So if you need extra high-speed data, you can always opt for sachet plans we mentioned above. Or the best option is to go for Rs 309 or Rs 509 plan that brings more data and TV cable feature. 

So even if you fail to claim your deposit of Rs 1500 after three years, you’ll still be in a win-win situation.

Can you use another network SIM on a JioPhone?

Unlike CDMA phones, the SIM is replaceable, but you can only use a Jio SIM on the phone. So if you already have a Jio SIM, you can certainly use it with your phone, but the plan will have to be upgraded to Rs 153, as it is exclusive only to JioPhone. 

So you can’t use any other network on this phone, no matter if it is 2G, 3G or 4G. 

Update: It is said that there will be 4-6 variants of JioPhone, out of which, some of them will come with dual SIM support allowing users to access other carrier SIM cards. 

What is JioPhone cable tv accessory?

Reliance JioPhone has a cable tv accessory can be used to connect the device to a screen and then stream content from JioTV and JioCinema apps. It is a casting service that can be attached to any TV, including CRTs to reflect their phone’s screen to the big screen.

The concept is pretty similar to Amazon’s Fire Stick TV and Google’s Chromecast. According to the latest report from Business Standard, the device is expected to come with an extra cost of Rs 500. 

Can JioPhone replace your set-top box?

If you get a little practical about it, we would say a no because after all, it’s first a phone than a casting device. It’s natural to expect some limitations when you pit it against dedicated TV boxes.   If you already have a DTH at your home, you wouldn’t need to use it there. But if you have a different subscription for each room and you spend limited time watching TV, then it makes more sense. On the brighter side, it is a pretty unique feature to be on an affordable device. 

We just hope the JioPhone cable TV accessory is portable and easy to carry. Data connectivity will also be a huge factor to look for because poor 4G speed or network issues may limit it to an extent.

What are the known features of JioPhone?

Voice calling will always be free for Jio customers. Jio services integration is lined up with all e-commerce players across the country, and NFC integration will let it make payments just like Samsung Pay. 

Like most other feature phones, JioPhone has an alphanumeric keypad, 2.4-inch QVGA display, headphone jack, SD card slot, torch light, four-way navigation system and FM radio. Moreover, it will feature a digital voice assistant, a panic button, and support for 22 Indian languages. 

Users can play and watch content from JioCinema, JioTV directly on display or on a bigger screen. It also features an SOS function, which gets activated by long pressing 5. 

Which processor will JioPhone feature?

This question is already making rounds on the internet, not just because everyone is excited to know, but also because of the tweets that followed from Qualcomm and Spreadtrum. 

On July 21, Qualcomm India tweeted, “Glad to partner with @reliancejio on the new #JioPhone, powered by our #205 mobile platform.” This indicates that the JioPhone will run the Snapdragon 205 processor. 

However, another tweet followed up from rival Spreadtrum saying, “Making India digital with #JioPhone. @Spreadtrum is proud to be a part of the digital freedom for #featurephone users. @Reliancejio.”

It has added a bit of uncertainty to the answer, although sources close to the company have hinted that Jio may launch the phone in multiple variants. 

Does JioPhone have hotspot? 

Hotspot availability is the biggest suspense surrounding JioPhone. According to various sources, JioPhone may not have the hotspot feature most probably because of its OS. It is being said that the Snapdragon variant will be coming with the hotspot feature but it will be locked for some reason. Since it is still unclear, we cannot give a confirmation on this. Being one of the essential features, we feel that JioPhone should have hotspot to be a competent 4G phone.

Which software does the JioPhone run?

According to revealed details during the JioPhone announcement, it is said that the phone will come with a version of Firefox OS called KaiOS. 

Will JioPhone run apps like PayTm, Whatsapp, YouTube or Facebook? 

From what we understood, Jio may restrict PayTm and WhatsApp on JioPhone. This may be because the company wants more Jio users to start using JioMoney and JioChat services. But it will most likely run apps like Facebook, Google and more. From what we got to know from the presentation, there’s one app that is guaranteed to be on the phone and it’s none other than Narendra Modi app. It features all the latest updates about the work India’s Prime Minister is up to along with his podcast ’mann ki baat’. 

Update: Latest report from Factor Daily signals at talks between Reliance Jio and WhatsApp are in preceding talks. It is also said that Reliance Jio and Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp, have an existing business relationship that gives green signal to the allegations.

Is JioPhone violating net neutrality principles?

Net Neutrality is one of the core tenets of a free and fair internet. Over the last few years, it has come under scrutiny during several incidents in different countries all over the world. In India, the one major event that attracted a lot of debate and activism was Facebook’s Free Basics offering. Another incident that has the possibility of drawing attention is Reliance Jio’s JioPhone. 

During the JioPhone announcement, Reliance Jio had revealed that it would be creating its own app store. Light versions of popular apps like Facebook, YouTube and more were said to be made available in this app store. 

Incumbent Idea raised concerns that the JioPhone won’t let you install other third-party apps that compete with Jio’s apps. This is little complicated, given the fact that the JioPhone comes with KaiOS. The phone’s hardware is very basic as well, meaning that it won’t be able to run regular apps properly. 

If third-party developers optimize their apps to run on the JioPhone, then it comes down to Reliance Jio approving them. Meaning, we cannot say that JioPhone is violating net neutrality principles until complete details about the feature phone are revealed. 

What is the significance of JioPhone?

For a cost of Rs 1500, Jio plans to offer a phone that will support 4G services which are impossible to find on any other device. If you look at the presently available feature phones, none of the them offers even the half of the features that are being promised with JioPhone. Soon after Jio’s announcement, analysts across the country went out to predict things. Incumbent service providers, now burdened with the fear of competition are expected to come up with a fresh plan to tackle this unexpected hit coming from Jio. 

Analysts expect an overall industry revenue to rebound from its downward graph. Apart form this, Jio’s TV casting feature has affected the stock prices of DTH service providers, though it can never completely take over the segment.

While the disruptive potential of JioPhone is unhealthy for the rivals, it is still a great move to rub-off country’s digital divide. Moreover, we still know very little about Jio’s plans, so it could be just more than what we have imagined to be in near future.