How good is an $86 telephone? Fingers-on with JioPhone

On a sultry summer time afternoon in June 2021, India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, the CEO of Indian telecom big Jio, introduced a product that took nearly a yr to construct. The temporary look of Google CEO Sundar Pichai in the course of the webcast made the announcement particular. Each will announce the JioPhone Subsequent – an inexpensive, full-featured Android smartphone developed by Jio in partnership with Google.

The JioPhone Subsequent was touted as the most effective factor ever for an inexpensive telephone and it had the potential to revolutionize the Indian smartphone sector – a declare that completely lacked advantage. In any case, it was backed by two billion greenback companies—each of which not solely had entry to the most effective know-how out there, but in addition the monetary energy to drag one thing off like this.

Jio initially meant to ship the telephone by September 10, however finally moved the supply date to the tip of October. Nonetheless, when the telephone launched, the pricing wasn’t as disruptive as everybody thought it will be.

Front Fascia of JioPhone Next.
Rahul Srinivas / DigitalTrends

My colleague, Tushar Mehta wrote a short explainer outlining the various challenges that JioPhone Subsequent faces in India. Even because the dialogue on the JioPhone intensified, I assumed now could be an excellent time to concentrate on the precise gadget. I obtained to spend a couple of hours with the JioPhone Subsequent final week, and listed here are my preliminary impressions in regards to the gadget.

not a lot to see

JioPhone Subsequent is sort of easy to have a look at. Given its modest worth (extra on that under), that is hardly shocking. the telephone shortly jogged my memory Nokia’s Asha sequence function telephones from mid-2010. Other than the blue coloration variant seen right here within the photographs, Jio additionally presents the JioPhone Subsequent in black color. The physique is product of polycarbonate and the rear panel has a dotted sample.

JioPhone Subsequent sports activities a 5.45-inch IPS LCD panel that helps a decision of 720 x 1440 pixels. The spec sheet additionally mentions that the show is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 – which I did not count on at this worth level. Regardless of the LCD credentials, I shortly seen that the colours on the display screen regarded a bit washed out. The show is ok for indoor use and issues solely come up when utilizing it outdoor. Once more, I actually should not be nervous about this as many of the JioPhone Subsequent customers may have upgraded from function telephones.

The rear panel of the JioPhone Next shows the camera and a prominent Jio logo.
Rahul Srinivas/Digital Developments

For a telephone this inexpensive, JioPhone Subsequent has an excellent construct high quality. For the reason that gadget primarily targets first-time smartphone patrons who’re upgrading from a function telephone, Jio has made a aware resolution to ship the gadget with a detachable rear panel and an uncovered, detachable battery. When was the final time you noticed?

JioPhone Next next to its retail box and charger.
Rahul Srinivas / DigitalTrends

This additionally signifies that you’ll have to open the again panel to entry the twin SIM slot and separate microSD card slot. Throughout my temporary time with the telephone, I discovered the bodily buttons all to ship good tactile suggestions. In brief, JioPhone Subsequent did not come throughout as a weak product and will final for fairly a while if you happen to deal with it effectively.


Even with its inexpensive price ticket, JioPhone Subsequent does not skimp on the fundamentals. It will get a good 8-megapixel front-facing digicam with autofocus, a decent 13MP rear digicam, and a 3.5mm port for audio connectivity. Surprisingly, the telephone makes use of the Micro-USB customary for charging and wired connection. It additionally helps USB OTG customary for connecting peripherals like mouse, keyboard or pen drive.

Powering the JioPhone Subsequent is the entry-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 chipset, coupled with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. Inside storage is restricted to 32GB, with the choice so as to add a microSD card. The detachable battery has a rated capability of three,400mAh, and the telephone comes with a 7.5-watt charger within the field.

The rear panel of JioPhone Next viewed from an angle.
Rahul Srinivas / DigitalTrends

Connectivity choices on the telephone are additionally not too dangerous. Whereas it helps twin SIM playing cards, the first SIM slot is locked to Jio’s personal 4G community – which is comprehensible given it is a Jio-branded telephone. Nonetheless, the shocking factor is that Jio blocks customers from accessing cell information in the event that they slide in a SIM card from a distinct provider within the second slot. JioPhone Subsequent helps Wi-Fi b/g/n, AGPS and Bluetooth v4.1 and likewise will get a 3.5mm port for audio connectivity. Glad to see that Jio has determined to equip the telephone with an accelerometer as effectively.

software program, consumer interface, efficiency

JioPhone runs a personalized model of Android referred to as Pragati OS, which accurately means Progress. Whereas many people anticipated ProgressOS to be a wholly new OS based mostly on Android, it was considerably overwhelming once we thought it was only a rebranded model. Android Go. To Jio’s credit score, the telephone ships with optimized variations of probably the most used apps and runs Android 11.

The man is using JioPhone Next.
Rahul Srinivas/Digital Developments

The UI is near inventory Android with many India-centric customizations. Contemplating that numerous JioPhone Subsequent customers won’t be snug with English, the telephone helps a number of Indian languages. Google chips right here with fast translation choices from English to a number of Indian languages, together with glorious Google Lens and Google Translate integration inside the system UI. The translate function lets customers translate any textual content displayed on the display screen into 10 supported languages. Customers additionally get the choice to have the telephone learn aloud any check on the display screen in their very own language.

Given Jio’s declare that the JioPhone Subsequent was developed in shut collaboration with Google, I anticipated the JioPhone Subsequent to ship an optimized consumer expertise – you understand, devoid of UI stutter, lag and common efficiency points . By the point I used the telephone, it felt like I had diminished Google’s optimizations to cowl what it lacked within the {hardware}.

Jio phone next display.
Rahul Srinivas/Digital Developments

Don’t get me improper. JioPhone Subsequent is a really helpful telephone. However it’s not designed for somebody who’s used an Android smartphone earlier than – not to mention actually a smartphone fanatic such as you. As talked about earlier, the audience is round 300-million folks in India – which can sound unbelievable – nonetheless utilizing function telephones related to 2G networks. For a lot of of them, the JioPhone Subsequent will likely be their first expertise with a smartphone, Android and the Web.

Merely put, this telephone just isn’t able to multitasking or taking part in video games. As a substitute, it’s designed as a succesful content material consumption instrument and in some instances an academic instrument.


Google has achieved unbelievable issues with computational images on the Pixel sequence, and I actually wished to point out a few of that magic within the JioPhone Subsequent. Surprisingly, Google and Jio have actually managed to do an excellent job right here, and appear to have spent lots of time customizing the digicam. Each the entrance (13MP) and rear (8MP) cameras on the JioPhone Subsequent ship good, shareable photographs which can be higher than most different telephones in its worth vary in India.

Rear panel of JioPhone Next with a close-up of its camera array.
Rahul Srinivas/Digital Developments

The digicam app was well-designed with easy-to-use menus and options like Portrait Mode, Night time Mode, HDR, and even Snapchat integration – units primarily concentrating on rural India However appeared somewhat misplaced. Nonetheless, I used to be not in a position to make use of the telephone to have the ability to take low mild pictures.

worth ceiling

Jio’s technique in India since its inception in 2016 has been easy: to beat the competitors, disrupt and dominate the market. Besides this time, with JioPhone Subsequent, it entered a market that’s already going by way of this disruption.

The costs of low-end smartphones in India are already among the many lowest on the planet, and Chinese language manufacturers like Xiaomi and Realme dominate the house. Each these corporations already promote glorious low value handsets that are priced nearly the identical as JioPhone Subsequent.

Retail packaging of JioPhone Next with prominent Google branding.
Rahul Srinivas / DigitalTrends

Presently, one should buy a JioPhone Subsequent by paying Rs 6,499 ($86) upfront after which use any current Jio pay as you go plan as per their want. However the telephone will nonetheless be locked to Jio, they usually will not be capable of use one other SIM card for information on different carriers. As Mehta factors out in his article, that is fully towards the character of the Indian market, the place persons are accustomed to purchasing carrier-unlocked smartphones.

the second is taken into account The extra inexpensive possibility reduces the preliminary down fee to Rs 2,500 ($33) – which features a processing price of Rs 501. The patrons then get the choice to hyperlink their telephone fee with their month-to-month information plan. However as identified by a number of Twitter customers, the general value of possession of JioPhone Subsequent seems to be too costly for the demographic it targets.

here’s a fast calculation #jiophonenext Possession value with plan advantages. #CPInsights

— Ritesh Bendre (@gadgetfreak4u) October 29, 2021

intense competitors

A lot of the units that the JioPhone Subsequent competes towards are solely marginally costlier, whereas additionally providing objectively higher {hardware}. Take Take, for instance, the Xiaomi Redmi 9A, which is barely costlier than the JioPhone Subsequent at Rs 7,299 ($96).

What you get for the marginally larger worth features a larger show, an even bigger battery, and a quicker MediaTek Helio G25 processor. The Xiaomi Redmi 9A does not do too poorly within the digicam and software program division both. For many who cannot purchase the telephone prematurely, Xiaomi additionally presents an EMI possibility. Redmi additionally presents customers the liberty to make use of any provider of their alternative.

One person who is making everything on JioPhone Next
Rahul Srinivas / DigitalTrends

our take

A month after its launch, the final consensus amongst folks appears to be that JioPhone Subsequent ought to have been launched with a a lot cheaper price tag – and with cheaper month-to-month plans. Sadly, in a market the place costs are already on the lowest attainable ranges, this appears a bit excessive asking – even with the mixed energy of Jio and Google behind it.

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