As the voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is becoming the new frontier in voice calling, telco companies are putting forward attractive phones and plans to keep the VoLTE feature as the primary asset for pushing their revenue. The newest entrant in this segment, Reliance Jio, is ready to launch feature phones with 4G VoLTE capability.
These Android-based feature phones are tipped to be priced as low as Rs 1,000, and will provide unlimited voice and video calling, besides digital content. As per another report, Reliance is looking forward to make two feature phones priced at about Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 that are likely to be launched in coming months.
The feature phones is targeted to gather the rural and tier-3 markets who predominantly use phones mainly to make calls.
These much talked-about feature phones are expected to have a keypad, front and rear cameras and will come pre-launched with Jio’s content applications such as Jio Chat, Live TV and video on demand.
Reliance is working with domestic handset maker Lava International and Chinese original equipment makers to manufacture these feature phones. Jio is said to be subsuming part of the selling price to make the 4G feature phones available at about Rs 1,000 (about $15). The cost of making the phones is about $25 and they are usually sold for about Rs 2,500.
The branding on the handsets would come as a merger, as the mobile phone maker is looking to “partner” Jio to empower every citizen of the country, said Lava Chairman Hari Om Rai, as cited on ET.
“Jio wants to tap all the segments in the country and sees huge potential in the rural areas, which it now aims to tap with VoLTE feature phones,” one of the people said, adding that the new devices will be aimed at first-time data users. “The 2G feature phone is still a big market in India.”
China’s Transsion, which sells the largest number of feature phones in Africa under the Itel brand has also plans to introduce 4G feature phones in India by April.
What’s VoLTE feature phones?
Voice over Long Term evolution is basically a standard for wireless communication for mobile phones. VoLTE has no dependency or requirement of the usual circuit switching (which basically is a network established between two network nodes); this in turn gives three times more voice and data capacity than 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM).
In short, LTE is based on 4G network, and will help in providing faster and reliable network.
VoLTE feature phones come with basic things like keypad, front facing and rear cameras. The phones will function on Android operating system. Devices will be equipped with Jio’s content applications such as Jio Chat, Live TV, video on demand.
The phones might sport Spreadtrum chipsets (a chipset manufacturer from China), but talks are still in progress with Qualcomm and Mediatek.
Will the under 1k 4G phones benefit Reliance?
Though smartphone penetration is growing at a fast clip, about 60% of India’s more than 1 billion mobile phone subscribers still use feature phones. So if Jio launches VoLTE enabled phones under the 1k segment, it’s going to be big as most people would consider the essentials – calling, which will be free.
“If Jio launches VoLTE feature phones at Rs 1,000, it can potentially shake up the market because the target audience in that segment may prefer to choose phones with free calling inbuilt,” said Navkendar Singh, a senior research manager with International Data Corp.
The main highlight is that VoLTE feature is provided by smartphones (which are above the common 3k range), making the facility difficult for everyone to avail it. So, therefore, the Reliance VoLTE phones launch can then provide consumers an option to buy mobile phones with better calling at the cheapest price (if the price is the same that as tipped)."Reliance Jio’s Rs. 999/- Android-Based 4G VoLTE Feature Phone Coming Soon!",