The JioPhone 5G may be India’s cheapest 5G smartphone yet

JioPhone 5G JioPhone Next Cloud
JioPhone Next smartphone. Image courtesy Jio Platforms

After the success of its 4G Android JioPhone, Reliance Jio is now developing a new affordable 5G version, naturally dubbed as ‘JioPhone 5G’, which is expected to launch alongside the operator’s upcoming 5G service.

According to a report by Android Central, the telecom operator could price the JioPhone 5G anywhere between $120-$160. At that price point, this could be India’s cheapest smartphone.

In India, 5G smartphones are already available under the $200 price segment. The cheapest smartphone, Moto G51, is currently priced at $199.

The report added that Jio will be looking to introduce the JioPhone 5G at a lower price point than Xiaomi and Realme’s 5G-based budget phones. China’s Realme recently said that it will “massify” 5G technology by bringing sub-Rs 10,000 (sub-$134) 5G smartphones to Indian users this year.

India is still at least a year away from commercial 5G services, with long-delayed 5G spectrum auctions possibly happening in June this year, which may push service launches back to at least early 2023.

However, because 5G phones also work on 4G networks, India’s 5G smartphone user base is already nearing 50 million, having grown 10 times in the last 12 months, according to market trackers. By the time 5G services are commercially launched, Jio believes that the country is most likely to have 100-150 million 5G smartphone owners.

Jio is already trying to push its existing 4G feature phone users to shift to a\its full-fledged smartphone, JioPhone Next. The telco recently rolled out financing options with the phone, which was developed in partnership with Google, in order to poach 2G feature phone users from rival telecom operators.

Jio revealed last year that it co-developed the Android-based Pragati OS, which currently powers the JioPhone Next. However, it is not clear if the new 5G smartphone will also feature this OS. The Android Central report said that the phone will run on Android 11, not the Pragati OS (which is based on Android Go Edition).

The JioPhone 5G will reportedly be pre-installed with Jio’s digital suite of services including MyJio, JioTV, JioCinema, and JioSaavan. It will also come with features like Google Assistant, read-aloud text, instant translation via Google Lens and Google Translate, and integration with various Indic languages.

The report added that the JioPhone 5G will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor, and will support N3, N5, N28, N40, and N78 5G bands. It will pack 4G of RAM and 32GB of storage with support for a microSD card, and may feature a 6.5-inch HD+ LCD screen.

The JioPhone 5G will house a 13MP rear camera alongside a 2MP secondary camera, while the front camera will be an 8MP unit. It may use a 5000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging via a USB-C port.

Jio has already completed 5G coverage planning for 1,000 top cities based on targeted customer consumption and revenue potential. It is using heat maps, 3D maps and ray tracing technology for precise coverage planning to target high consumption and high perception locations.

Jio is undertaking active 5G field trials across multiple cities in India. Some of the 5G use cases it’s exploring include 5G robots delivering food trays to patients controlled by a cloud-based fleet management system; connected ambulances streaming vital information via 5G; 5G site inspection using a 5G connected drone; and 5G robotics for warehouse automation.

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