The Reliance JioPhone can be all yours effectively for $0
Indian LTE operator, Reliance Jio (a subsidary of the Reliance Industries Limited conglomerate) has announced the launch of the Reliance JioPhone at an effective price of $0. Yes, that wasn't a typo. The keyword here is 'effective' which means that the customer will pay an upfront security deposit of Rs. 1500 (US$23) which will be fully refunded when the customer returns the phone after three years making the phone effectively free.
The phone itself seems to be a transition between feature phones and smartphones. It has support for 4G VoLTE, NFC and Bluetooth, which are generally smartphone territory. The phone sports a 2.4-inch QVGA display and comes with a T9 keypad reminiscent of feature phones. There's 512MB of RAM and 4GB of inbuilt storage that is expandable via a microSD card. A 2000 mAh battery should provide enough juice to last for a few days without access to a wall outlet.
On the software front, the phone comes with the entire suite of Jio's apps built in. For Rs. 153 (US$2.3) a month, customers can get free, unlimited voice calls and 500MB of data everyday. Jio also provides the option of purchasing the JioPhone with an additional 'JioTV Cable' that can connect to TVs to mirror content from the Jio apps. This is available for those willing to opt for higher tier plans starting from Rs. 309 (US$4.7) per month.
Reliance Jio has effectively disrupted the highly competitive Indian telecom landscape and is expanding its coverage across the length and breadth of the country on a war footing. Jio seems to be optimistic of covering 99% of India's landscape in the next 12 months. The JioPhone will be shipping to beta testers from August 15 with pre-orders beginning from August 24. Shipments are likely to commence from September this year.
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