In addition to launching its 5G networks in India during the second half of this year, Reliance Industries looks likely to launch an affordable 5G phone. The 5G phone is said to be being developed with tech giant Google, who invested $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, Reliance Industries’ parent company, last July.
Indeed, following Google's acquisition of a 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms, the companies released a statement around jointly developing an entry-level 4G smartphone that would be capable of supporting a future upgrade to 5G, so this launch rumour makes sense.
ET Telecom’s source said that Reliance Industries is looking at May / June time to complete the research and development of the 5G phone. "But a launch will most likely be in the second quarter of FY21. It may coincide with the annual general meeting (AGM), usually held in August-September, when RIL has typically made all its previous announcements regarding its feature phones and fibre, among others," the unnamed ET Telecom source said.
New 5G phone finalised
Another ET Telecom source, an executive aware of the development said: "The development of the phone is on track. The specifications have been finalised. However, there are ongoing discussions on the operating system, given that it will require deep integration of Jio services."
This executive source is also said to have revealed that Reliance Industries is developing JioOS, a custom version of Google's Android operating system, optimised for Jio applications. "However, both companies are still discussing which version of Android is to be used for the smartphone. The phone could also feature an Android Go operating system with entry-level specifications," the executive said.
Transition to 5G phones
It seems likely that the new affordable 5G phone will launch alongside the JioBook, a super affordable laptop, which the company has stated will arrive in the second half of the year.
Reliance Industries boasts over 100 million JioPhone subscribers, so this rumoured new phone will allow these people to transition over to 5G phones, affordably. It will also give the Indian operator a shot at poaching the 300 million phone users currently on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd networks.