India’s largest telecom operator, Reliance Jio, could enter the highly competitive smartphone segment in India before the end of 2020. According to a report by the Indian newspaper Business Standard, Jio plans to flood the Indian market with as many as 100 million low-cost Android smartphones either by December 2020 or the beginning of 2021. The newspaper, which cites ‘sources,’ went on to reveal that this new device will be primarily targeted at users from India who have not yet upgraded to smartphones despite the country now boasting of widespread 4G coverage.
The report suggests that Reliance has already initiated talks with a supplier for outsourcing the manufacturing of these devices. It remains to be seen if Jio turns to China for the manufacturing of these devices. Given the ongoing tension between India and China, chances are high Jio could ink a deal with an Indian player and promote this Android smartphone as a ‘Made in India’ device and ride high on the patriotism wave.
Little is known about the specifications of the low-cost Android device in question. When launched, this new smartphone is likely to compete with existing affordable smartphones from Chinese vendors, including Xiaomi, Realme, OPPO, and Indian smartphone brands like Lava and Micromax.
Jio, which began commercial operations in 2016, has been largely credited for India’s digital revolution. Jio was single-handedly responsible for making the mobile data prices in India to be the lowest in the world. Competitors like Airtel. Vodafone and Idea Cellular were left scrambling for cover and lost subscribers by the millions. Vodafone and Idea had to combine forces and recently announced a merger with the creation of a new carrier called Vi.
If things go as planned, the new smartphone from Jio could pose a serious challenge to the domination of Chinese smartphone brands in India, which currently sell roughly eight of every ten smartphones sold in the country. Notably, Jio has, in the past, attempted at making inroads into the Indian smartphone space with its LYF branded Android smartphones. However, these Chinese-origin phones were often more expensive compared to devices sold by mainstream manufacturers.