Reliance Jio is reportedly gearing up to launch an Android version of its popular JioPhone, taking on the incumbent operators Airtel and Vodafone. While the first JioPhone was more of a feature-phone that had a few built-in apps, it couldn’t really compete with Android-based smartphones launched by Airtel and Vodafone recently.
Launched back in July this year, the JioPhone runs on KaiOS, a forked version of Firefox OS. Theoretically, the phone can run HTML5-based apps, but given the weak hardware, it may not be able to run many apps properly enough. While Reliance Jio has bundled its some of its own apps, the JioPhone misses out on popular apps like WhatsApp, making it a difficult sell even at its low price.
Airtel and Vodafone leading the affordable smartphone battle
On the other hand, leading telecom operator Airtel has launched two new ultra-affordable smartphones running on Android. Launched in partnership with Indian companies Karbonn and Celkon, these phones run on Android and are therefore compatible with a wide range of apps. Vodafone too launched its own affordable smartphone, the Bharat 2, in partnership with Micromax.
With all these companies offering similar data plans and voice benefits, buying a JioPhone made less sense than it did before. It has very few apps, and a very small display that make it less lucrative when compared to the offerings from Jio’s rivals.
According to sources from the industry and rival telecom operators, we could see a JioPhone running on Android in the near future. This would solve the app problem for Reliance Jio, and it can focus on improving its product instead of trying to bring out KaiOS-compatible versions of popular apps.
We should know more details about the JioPhone Android version features, price and tariff plans in the near future.