Reliance Jio has launched its first smartphone called Jio Phone Next in India in association with Google. The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom operator has been hyping the smartphone as the most affordable 4G smartphone since its announcement in June. However, the smartphone was announced with a sticker price of 6,499, which was a disappointment for many considering the spec sheet.
Jio did sweeten the deal with an easy financing option where buyers can pay just Rs 1,999 upfront along with Rs 501 processing fee and pay the remaining amount in easy installments starting as low as Rs 300 for 18 months and Rs 350 for 24 months. It’s pretty clear that Jio is targeting existing feature phone users to make a shift to a smartphone with the easy financing option. We got a chance to check out Jio Phone Next for a short while and here is how we feel about it.
Jio Phone Next unboxing
The JioPhone Next comes in a nondescript cardboard box with Jio branding and phone visuals on it. The packaging contains the Jio Phone Next, the removable battery in the compartment below it. Along with the device, you get the documentation, micro-USB cable, and a 5W charging brick. This is all there is to the packaging of the smartphone.
Jio Phone Next first impressions
Coming to the design, you’ll have to remove the back panel of the Jio Phone Next to insert the battery, dual SIM, and a microSD card if you choose to expand the storage. As for the SIM slots, the primary slot needs to have a Jio SIM card for all functionalities and data connectivity. In the secondary SIM slot, you can insert any network SIM but it will work only for voice calls. The back panel is easy to remove and looks good in blue. There’s also a textured pattern on the panel for grip. The smartphone feels solid in hand thanks to no creaks or flex whatsoever, however it does feel a little tacky due to the all-plastic build.
As for buttons and ports, the volume buttons and power key are located on the right edge, whereas the left edge is bare. You’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack on the top and a micro-USB charging port on the bottom. The speaker grille is located on the back panel along with Jio branding and a single camera module with LED flash on the top.
The Jio Phone Next’s window to the world is a 5.45-inch TFT panel, which offers a screen resolution of HD+. The display is protected against scratches and nicks due to the layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The TFT LCD panel is not as sharp and vibrant, which is to be expected from an entry-level smartphone. The display is bright enough for indoor usage but you’ll need to squint your eyes in direct sunlight.
The new launch is powered by the entry-level 1.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 215 SoC. The chipset is backed by 2GB RAM and 32GB storage. The onboard storage can be expanded up to 512GB using a microSD card. In our short stint with the smartphone, the phone handled usual tasks and multitasking with ease. However, while playing BGMI we experienced frame drops and lags after a 15-minute gaming session but we won’t hold it against Jio Phone Next since it’s not meant for gaming. Powering the phone is a 3,500mAh battery with 5W charging support.
As for the software, the Jio Phone Next boots a custom Android version called PragatiOS. The interface is near-stock Android with the Jio and Google suite of apps pre-installed. The software is loaded with India-specific features like auto-translate text to 10 native Indian languages, system-wide read aloud, and voice assistant. There’s also Google Play Protect built-in to safeguard the smartphone against malware.
Coming to the camera, the Jio Phone Next is equipped with a 13-megapixel primary camera on the back accompanied by a single LED flash. For selfies, there’s a 5-megapixel snapper on the front placed on the top bezel. Jio has integrated features like portrait, HDR, and dedicated night mode. There’s also an integrated Snapchat Lens with India-specific filters. The initial daylight shots we took from the smartphone were decent at best, however, we couldn’t test the night mode.
So, is Jio Phone Next as disruptive as the original Jio Phone? No, definitely not. If you can stretch your budget by Rs 500, you can pick up options like Realme C11 2021, Redmi 9A, and Nokia C3. However, what works in the favour of Jio Phone Next is PragatiOS with its India-centric features targeted at tier-2 and tier-3 users, who are still using a feature phone. The target audience for the smartphone can also not afford a smartphone at one go.
The convenience of paying only around 40 percent of the price upfront and remaining with monthly EMI plans starting as low as Rs 300 is unmatched. Not only the ease of payment, but the fact that these plans come with benefits like up to 1GB daily data and unlimited voice calling is a cherry on the top. Therefore, while it’s too early to predict if the Jio Phone Next will be as disruptive as the Jio Phone, we can safely assume that it will be a great option for feature phone users who have been holding on to a smartphone purchase due to budget constraints.
With inputs from Pratik Vyas