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This article was published on June 24, 2021

Google and Reliance’s ‘JioPhone Next’ will hit India in September

It'll have a customized version of Android

Google and Reliance’s ‘JioPhone Next’ will hit India in September
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

Major Indian mobile carrier Reliance Jio launched its phone in partnership with Google, called the JioPhone Next, in India today. The device was announced at the company’s annual general meeting, that the 4G enabled phone has a customized version of Android.

Jio said that the phone will have features such as voice assistant, translation in multiple languages, and AR. Currently, the specifications and details of the phone are unknown.

Features of JioPhone Next developed by Reliance and Google
Features of JioPhone Next developed by Reliance and Google

In a statement, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai said that Google has worked on baking features for the device through a special version of Android:

Our teams have optimized a version of our Android OS, especially for this device. It will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates.

 

First look at JiPhone Next's design
First look at JiPhone Next’s design

Notably, the search giant already has a version of Android for lower-end phones called Android Go. In a statement, the company hinted that the operating system for JioPhone Next might be based on it:

The Android experience unveiled today is built on foundational learnings on performance and security from the over 100M entry-level smartphones around the world. Jio and Google engineering teams have enhanced the overall user experience in JioPhone Next, while creating additional capabilities, designed specifically for Indian users. For example, it has powerful language features built-in, with the ability to recognize and read back content in multiple Indian languages, or even translate it on the screen or in the real world through the phone camera.

In a blog post, Google previewed some of the features builts for JioPhone Next, including Assistant integration with Jio apps, listening to content on your phone screen in native languages, and translating text in another language on your phone screen or in your camera. The company said that translation features will work across the device and on any app.

Listen to any content on your phone screen by tapping the ‘Listen’ button

What’s more, the firm said that it has optimized the camera to include a special night mode and HDR mode. Plus, the camera will have direct integration with Snapchat for localized AR-based filters.

The Big G also said that the phone will support the latest versions of the Android operating system with updates, but didn’t specify the support window in terms of years.

Google also announced a new partnership with Reliance Jio to build 5G solutions over the cloud.

The JioPhone Next will be available to consumers sometime in September. While the company hasn’t specified the price of the device, it would have to be less than ₹5,000 to disrupt the market.

Last year, when Google invested $4.5 billion in Reliance Jio, both companies unveiled plans for launching a low-cost Android phone at that time.

Reliance Jio, the company helmed by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has amassed more than 425 million subscribers to its telecom network within four years of its launch. The firm aims to upgrade more than 300 million 2G users in India in the coming years.

In the last couple of years, Jio has launched its ‘smart’ feature phones, JioPhone and JioPhone 2, with 4G connectivity and apps such as Google Search, WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube. The company said it has sold more than 100 million of these KaiOS powered devices.

Prior to this, Reliance Jio sold Android phones under the LYF brand name at various price points below ₹30,000(~$400).

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