Rumours that Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has been secretly working on an entry-level 4G smartphone have been doing the rounds since the time the original JioPhone came into being in 2017. All eyes were set on the company’s 41st Annual General Meeting earlier this year for some sort of announcement around the same, but all in vain. RIL instead took the stage to launch the JioPhone 2 – a minor upgrade over the JioPhone that focused entirely on design and usability aspects.
An affordable 4G Jio smartphone, it seems, is in the works though. In an interview with the Economic Times, Sunil Dutt who is head of sales, channel development at Reliance Jio, has revealed that RIL is working with partners to bring large-screen 4G-capable smartphones into the market. Although the top company executive did not name any of these partners, he could possibly be referring to US contract manufacturer Flex. Flex has been rumoured to be one of the partners that RIL is currently talking with to locally manufacture 100 million smartphones.
“We are trying to work with partners who can bring in affordable large screen smartphones for a large mass of customers who are yet to make a shift to a 4G smartphone, so that they can experience the right kind of connectivity as well as the right kind of content on devices which are affordable,” Dutt was quoted as saying in the ET report.
The report does not dwell upon a launch timeline or probable hardware specs that RIL is looking at but if the JioPhone and JioPhone 2 are any indication, its upcoming 4G smartphone could well punch above its weight as well.
The JioPhone was a first-of-its-kind feature phone when it was launched in 2017 bringing smart 4G capabilities to the masses. The JioPhone, even though it was a feature phone, was smarter than other feature phones at that time. What really made it a best-seller though was the fact that RIL was selling the JioPhone effectively for free, charging no money from buyers for the handset itself. Buyers only needed to invest in one of its many 4G tariff packs to get their hands on a JioPhone. The JioPhone 2 that followed brought an upgraded design with a horizontal viewing display and a QWERTY keyboard. The JioPhone 2 also introduced dual-SIM support to the JioPhone form factor.