Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, who is currently Asia’s richest man, has launched an internet-connected phone for 999 rupees (approximately $12), targeting a market of some 250 million people in India’s remote areas who continue to use feature phones.
About the phone: Ambani’s telecom unit Reliance Jio Infocomm, also called Jio, released the 4G-enabled Jio Bharat phone last week.
The device comes with the company’s pre-installed apps for streaming — movies, TV shows, web series, sports highlights and music — and digital payments with Indian banks.
Basic tools, such as a camera, radio and flashlight, are also packed in the phone. Additionally, users can make free voice calls to other phone owners anywhere in India.
The bigger picture: For a 14GB 4G connection, the Jio Bharat phone comes with a 123-rupee (approximately $1.50) monthly fee. This plan offers seven times more data and is still 30% less expensive than the cheapest plan — 2GB a month for 179 rupees (approximately $2.18) —offered by its closest competitor, Bharti Airtel.
Most feature phones sold by current players Nokia (Finland) and Itel Mobile (China), as well as local makers Lava and Karbonn, cost at least $15, making the Jio Bharat the cheapest on the market at the moment.
Jio is reportedly backed by Google and Facebook. The company previously released another 4G feature phone in 2017 for 1,500 rupees (approximately $19), which is refundable if returned after three years.