Reliance Jio, the firebrand telecom entrant, may be working on an affordable 4G smartphone in partnership with Google. As per a report by the Hindu Business Line, the smartphone is expected to be unveiled by the end of this year. This Jio-Google 4G handset is also expected to work exclusively on Jio’s VoLTE network, giving the much needed boost to the telecom company’s Android apps.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai had hinted at an entry-level Android smartphone during a visit to IIT-Kharagpur earlier this year. At the time, Pichai had stressed on the need for cheaper smartphones in India, and said that entry level phones should cost as low as $30 (Rs. 2035) in India.
If Google does end up launching a budget smartphone with Reliance Jio, it will be the second time the Mountain View based tech company steps foot in India’s affordable smartphone space. Google had attempted to make its mark in this category back in 2014 with its Android One initiative. The company had partnered with the likes of Micromax, Spice, Lava and Carbon to launch budget Android devices in India, but the same could not generate the desired demand in the country and no new Android One device has launched since the Lava Pixel V1.
However, a partnership between Reliance Jio and Google could turn things around for the budget Android smartphone segment in India. Given that Reliance Jio is known for its market-shifting pricing strategies, the smartphone in question could come with an extremely affordable price tag, giving competition a run for its money. We hope the 4G smartphone is targeted at entry-level users who cannot afford LTE devices yet.