Google and Indian telecom company Jio Platforms finally unveiled their budget smartphone for India on Friday, the JioPhone Next. The phone is designed as an affordable 4G device to serve “the unique needs of the Indian consumer,” Android India engineering lead Ram Papatla said in a blog post.
India won’t be getting Google’s new Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and those phones’ premium prices put them out of reach of many smartphone consumers in the country. But Google and Jio have designed this new device as a more affordable 4G option. It’s priced at 6499 Indian rupees, or $87, and is available at Jio Mart retailers in India or on Jio’s website. Google said users can also put a down payment of 1999 rupees and choose a payment plan through Jio.
The JioPhone runs Pragati OS, which Google says is an optimized version of Android, and can access apps in the Play Store. The device has read-aloud and language translation for on-screen text, a camera with India-centric Snapchat Lenses, and embedded voice-first features that support 10 different languages spoken in India.
“Among the many rich features of JioPhone Next, the one that has impressed me the most — and one that will empower common Indians the most and take their digital journeys to the next level — is its contribution to India’s linguistic integration. India’s unique strength is our linguistic diversity,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, which operates Jio Platforms. “Those Indians who might not be able to read content in English or in their language can get it translated, and even read out, in their own language on this smart device.”
The phone has a 5.45-inch HD plus Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display, a 60Hz refresh rate, a 13-megapixel rear camera with support for HDR, an 8-megapixel autofocus front camera, a 3,500mAh battery, a Qualcomm quad-core QM-215 chipset, with 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of expandable storage. It’s dual-SIM capable.
The JioPhone Next will be available beginning November 4th, which is the first day of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights holiday.
Google and Jio announced their collaboration on a budget smartphone in 2020, with Google providing a $4.5 billion investment in the telecom company. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Friday that the JioPhone Next was “inspired by the belief that everyone in India should benefit from the opportunities the internet creates.”
India passed the US as the world’s second-largest smartphone market in 2020, with more than 400 million smartphone users.
Update October 29th 12:33PM ET: Adds details of payment plan price option for the JioPhone Next