By: Nirupam Manik, The Mobile Indian, New Delhi
Last updated : Friday, January 20, 2017 - 20:13
For manufacturing these feature phones, Reliance Jio is said to be working with Lava International and Chinese original equipment maker.
After taking the telecom sector with a storm, Reliance Jio is now planning to launch new feature phones with a price as low as Rs 1000. Two of these feature phone series from Reliance Jio are expected to launch in January to March. Interestingly, these feature phones will function a lot like smartphones and will come with Internet and unlimited calling functionality. However, rumours have it that they will not come with a touchscreen.
For manufacturing these feature phones, Reliance Jio is said to be working with Lava International and Chinese original equipment and initially these phones might come with branding of both Lava and Reliance Jio. These feature phones is touted to come with keypad, front and rear facing camera and will come running on Android operating system. On top of this, they are also likely to come with Jio's app network such as Jio Chat, Live TV and video on demand.
As of now, Relaince Jio is the only telecom operator who offers free calls over VoLTE (Voice over LTE) technology and has already attracted about 25 million customers since its commercial launch which took place on September 5th, 2016. The company is said to be targeting 100 million soon which would be still a lot less than Airtel's 260 million users. To achieve this even bigger number, Reliance Jio has to enter feature phone market.
"Jio wants to tap all the segments in the country and sees huge potential in the rural areas, which it now aims to tap with VoLTE feature phones,â€ - said a spokesperson.
In India, about 65% of the total 1 billion mobile users are of feature phones and as per Economic Times, the cheapest 4G smartphone today would cost Rs 3,000.
Evident from yesterday's IDC report, of the total of 72.3 million units of smartphone shipped in India, only 32.3 million are of smartphones.
Navkendar Singh, a senior research manager with International Data Corporation said - "If Jio launches VoLTE feature phones at Rs 1,000, it can potentially shake up the market because the target audience in that segment may prefer to choose phones with free calling inbuilt".