The Jio Phone has been one of the most anticipated product launches in India this year. First announced at Reliance’s Annual General Meeting earlier this year, it is a 4G and VoLTE enabled feature phone, but the main reason for the frenzy around it is that it is effectively free – the hardware, at least. Buyers will need to pay Rs. 1,500 as a security deposit, but that’s refundable after three years if you return the phone and meet all the terms and conditions. Reliance started accepting pre-bookings for the smartphone in August with deliveries promised to begin in September.
Categorising the Jio Phone isn’t as easy as it might seem. It looks and feels like a basic feature phone but has a few smart capabilities that make it stand out. With Jio’s entire lineup of apps supported, you can play movies and songs on the go. Plus, the tariff plan includes enough free data for people to actually make use of these capabilities. While this all sounds impressive, what is it like to actually live with the Jio Phone? We tell you all about it.
Reliance Jio Phone look and feel
The Jio Phone looks and feels like a standard feature phone, with a small screen and a numeric keypad on the front. The whole thing is made of plastic and we must say that it is of a good quality. Weight is manageable and it fits well in the hand. The curved sides and edges mask the size of the phone quite well and it does not feel bulky to hold or carry.
The screen measures 2.4 inches and has a resolution of 240×320 pixels. Vertical viewing angles are bad and colours appear washed out, but that’s to be expected keeping the price of this device. There’s a recessed earpiece and a VGA front-facing camera above the screen. Below it are two function buttons, a D-pad, call and disconnect buttons, and the number pad. The buttons are well spaced and easy to reach, and offer good feedback when pressed.
The back of the Jio Phone has only the 2-megapixel camera and loudspeaker. The rear cover is removable and so is the 2000mAh battery. This phone has a single Nano-SIM slot and a microSD card slot. There’s a Micro-USB port at the bottom along with a 3.5mm headphone socket. At the top, there’s an LED torch which can be activated by long-pressing the up button on the D-pad.
In the box you get the Jio Phone and a charger with an attached Micro-USB cable. The phone comes with a Jio SIM pre-installed, and it needs to be activated before it will work. We used an older Jio SIM with this phone and it worked without any issues. Predictably, an Airtel SIM failed to be recognised.
Reliance Jio Phone specifications and software
The Jio Phone is a feature phone but the specifications do look relatively impressive. It is powered by a dual-core processor manufactured by either Qualcomm or Spreadtrum, and has 512MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage out of which only about 1GB is available to the user. Jio has reserved 1GB for apps while the rest of the space is for software updates and app caches. Storage isn’t a concern as you can use a microSD card of up to 128GB. You can transfer files to and from a PC using a USB cable after enabling USB mode.
For connectivity, the Jio Phone has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Bluetooth can be used to transfer files to or from other devices, and streaming music to a car head unit also worked. The Jio Phone can connect to Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet without using cellular data. These connectivity options aren’t always supported by feature phones, which helps the Jio Phone stand out. There is 4G and VoLTEsupport and the phone latches onto the Jio network quite quickly. However, there is no hotspot feature so users hoping to make use of their daily free data allowance on other devices will be disappointed.