Mukesh Ambani plans to offer ₹3,000 smartphone to hit his 500 million subscriber target


  • Reliance Jio is working on bringing affordable 4G smartphones below ₹3,000 in the country.
  • The company wants to speed up its acquisition of existing 2G subscribers from other telcos.
Reliance Jio is reportedly in talks with various smartphone makers to introduce budget 4G smartphones in bulk and retail them at around ₹2,000-₹3000.

According to a report in Business Standard, Reliance Jio has approached Lava Mobiles to make these affordable phones. Jio is looking to expand the ecosystem of 4G services by reducing the existing phone prices by half - which now hover between ₹5,000-₹6,000.

Reliance wants to repeat its JioPhone success

These ‘starter phones’ will help Jio chase its 500 million subscriber target and it’s currently at 370 million. At the same time, Jio has been trying to bring high spenders into its ecosystem, making the shift from 2G to 4G essential.

In India which has over a billion mobile users, around over 550 million customers are still on 2G/3G. And, it is not the first time that Jio tried to peddle handsets to ease the transition. In 2017, it introduced its 4G feature phone, which was priced at ₹1,500. The company has sold over 100 million JioPhones since its launch due to the low-cost and 4G support.

And they continue to bring in business, even now. Of the 6-9 million subscribers that Jio has been adding every month, over 3 million come from the sale of the JioPhone. The phone is offered for ₹501 when a user exchanges a 2G phone, or at a flat ₹1095 which comes bundled with six months of free calling and data.

Jio might cut corners for the smartphone

While the ₹1,500 JioPhone helped the telco gain users, its user experience is low with overall build quality and lack of memory. The upcoming budget 4G smartphones may face the same fate if the company cuts corners to cut costs and bring down the price. The phone may have a sub-standard display and poor battery quality.

A decent 4G smartphone still costs more than ₹7,000, so it remains to be seen if Jio can bring that price down to under ₹3,000 without any major quality compromises.

Not the first time Jio has introduced budget 4G smartphones

In December 2015, Jio had introduced its Lyf series of budget 4G VoLTE smartphones as there were limited options in the market that supported 4G VoLTE. Soon after, Jio’s LYF brand entered the top-five smartphone makers in the country.

After seeing the success of Lyf smartphones and Jio’s increasing subscribers, other smartphone makers started introducing VoLTE compatible smartphones. Now, 4G VoLTE has become a basic feature of any smartphone launched in the country.

While Reliance Jio did scaled up its Lyf brand and hasn’t introduced a new smartphone in a while. But it looks like it will make a comeback in a swankier avatar in 2020.

See also:

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio becomes the largest telco by revenue and subscribers - as industry shows signs of recovery

Panicking Vodafone-Idea users are porting to Airtel and Reliance Jio — but that might not be the solution they're looking for

As the rest of the world flies high on 5G, most of India will still be on a 4G network in 2025

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