After six years of introducing the first 4G-enabled feature phone, Reliance Jio, under the leadership of Mukesh Ambani, announced a new game in this segment by launching Jio Bharat V2 phone on Monday, priced at Rs. 999. Beta testing for the first one million of these affordable internet-enabled mobile devices will begin on July 7th.
The company also launched a new operating system called Jio Bharat Platform, which other phone brands like Carbon will also adopt to make their phones, the company said.
Stressing that the 250 million feature phone users across the country represent a significant digital divide, the company stated that Jio Bharat V2 phones will provide digital freedom to economically weaker sections of the population by offering high-quality, affordable data.
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Jio also announced a 30% cheaper bundled monthly plan. Compared to other operators’ monthly plans priced at a minimum of Rs. 179, Jio’s plan will offer 14GB of free data, seven times more than the 2GB data offered by its competitors. The cost of the annual plan is Rs. 1,234. Both plans include unlimited calling.
Jio stated that the upcoming trials will ensure scalability of platforms and processes to upgrade millions of feature phone users; the testing will be conducted in 6,500 talukas (administrative divisions).
Jio Bharat V2 phone features a 1.77-inch QVGA TFT display and a removable 1,000 mAh battery. It will be locked to the Jio network and support UPI payments through JioPay. The company stated that it will also provide access to JioCinema and JioSaavn services for movies, videos, and entertainment, which includes over 80 million songs in multiple languages.
Taking a dig at its competitors, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, for raising entry-level tariffs, Jio mentioned that feature phone users are now facing digital exclusion and inequality as “other telecom operators have more than doubled the minimum prices to stay connected.” Even the basic voice services have been increased to Rs. 199 from the previous Rs. 99 for a 30-day period.
“While this segment is subject to the most exploitation by existing operators since its users are unable to afford smartphones, these users not only face capacity issues but are also restricted from accessing digital services,” stated Aakash Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Jio. He argued that “technology will no longer be a privilege for a select few” and that the new phone is a step towards innovation. “In India, there are still 250 million mobile phone users stuck in the 2G era, unable to leverage the fundamental benefits of the internet when the world is at the peak of the 5G revolution. Six years ago, when Jio was launched, we made it clear that Jio will not leave any Indian behind in accessing the internet and benefiting from technology.”
In April 2017, Jio had launched its first 4G feature phone, JioPhone, for the mass market of 500 million strong feature phone users, priced at Rs. 1,500, which the company later announced would be refunded after a three-year period.
In August 2018, the company announced a high-end model, JioPhone 2. It last launched JioPhone Next in 2019, developed in partnership with Google and running on the Progress OS, which is an optimized version of Android, aimed at offering entry-level smartphones for budget-conscious users.
Jio is a telecommunications company based in India that provides a wide range of digital services. It was launched in 2016 and quickly gained popularity for its affordable mobile data plans, disrupting the Indian telecom industry.
There are still 250 million mobile phone users in India who remain ‘trapped’ in ..
At only Rs 999, the lowest entry price for an internet-enabled phone,” Jio said. ..