With over 420 million subscribers, Jio is India's largest cellular network by some margin. It partnered with Google last year to deliver the JioPhone Next, a budget phone running a customized version of Android that retails for the equivalent of $87 ($6,499).
Jio is now turning to 5G as a differentiator in 2022, and as such the company is working on its first 5G-enabled phone, the JioPhone 5G. While the best budget phones sold in India come with a 5G modem, there's no 5G service to speak of, and Jio is aiming to change that later this year as it rolls out 5G connectivity in major Indian cities.
To coincide with the launch of its 5G service, Jio intends to roll out the budget-focused JioPhone 5G. An insider source revealed key details about the upcoming phone, including hardware specs and software information, so let's take a look at what the JioPhone 5G has to offer.
JioPhone 5G specs
The JioPhone 5G is betting on 5G as the marquee feature, and it is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 480 5G chipset, delivering decent gains over the Snapdragon 215 that was featured in the JioPhone Next. The screen is also larger at 6.5 inches, but the resolution is still HD+ (1600 x 720). There's double the amount of RAM at 4GB, and you get 32GB of storage and the ability to slot in a microSD card.
In terms of 5G, you're looking at bands N3, N5, N28, N40, and N78, so the phone should get 5G connectivity across India once Jio's service goes live. There's also a larger 5000mAh battery that charges over USB-C and goes up to 18W, and a SIM card tray that holds two SIM cards and a microSD card. The JioPhone 5G doesn't seem to differ too much from the JioPhone Next when it comes to the cameras: it has a 13MP shooter at the back and an 8MP module at the front.
As for the design, while I'm not able to share any renders at the moment, the information I've received suggests the JioPhone 5G will have a much more modern design than Jio's earlier offerings. The phone will feature thin bezels at the top and bottom, a hole-punch cutout, and rounded edges.
There are a few caveats to note here. Because the phone is yet to be prototyped, there may be a few changes to the specs. And unlike the JioPhone Next, Jio is planning to launch various SKUs under the JioPhone 5G moniker, and the specs outlined below are for one model; there will be other variants with different screen sizes and specs.
With that out of the way, here's the JioPhone 5G specs rundown:
Google Play Services
Jio digital suite
|6.5-inch IPS LCD
HD+ (1600 x 720)
|Snapdragon 480 5G
2 x 2.0GHz Cortex A76
6 x 1.8GHz Cortex A55
|SIM Card Tray
|Two SIM cards + microSD
|Rear Camera 1
1080p at 60fps, 720p at 120fps
|Rear Camera 2
5G Bands: N3, N5, N28, N40, N78
4G Bands: B3 (1800), B5 (850), B40 (2300)
|Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NavIC
JioPhone 5G software
Like the JioPhone Next, the JioPhone 5G will run a customized version of Android 11 out of the box. Essentially, it's Android 11 (Go edition) with custom tweaks for Jio's devices, including an always-on Google Assistant, read-aloud text, instant translate via Google Lens and Google Translate, and integration with various Indic languages.
In addition, you'll get the usual Jio digital suite of services that include MyJio, JioTV, JioCinema, and JioSaavan. The UI will feature a custom Jio launcher, but other than that, there shouldn't be too much of a difference to what's available on the JioPhone Next.
JioPhone 5G launch date
With the JioPhone 5G yet to enter the prototyping phase, a launch is still some ways off; there's the bigger question of when Jio's 5G network itself will go live. There's still no 5G service in India at the moment, and while an eventual rollout is planned for later in 2022, there's no launch date as of yet.
For its part, Jio has conducted 5G trails and recently finished 5G coverage plans for major cities across the country. It's possible that Jio will reveal details about its 5G service at its annual shareholder meeting in June, and that's when we could see the official unveil for the JioPhone 5G as well.
Jio followed a similar playbook with the JioPhone Next, announcing it in June and kicking off sales in November. It's likely that the network will do the same in 2022 with the JioPhone 5G.
JioPhone 5G pricing
Like the JioPhone Next, the JioPhone 5G is aimed at affordability, and it will lower the barrier to entry for 5G in the country. While I don't have pricing information at the moment, Jio's entire strategy with its device hardware is to undercut rivals, so it could launch the JioPhone 5G anywhere between ₹9,000 ($120) to ₹12,000 ($160).
Given Jio's aggressiveness in this area, it is feasible that the JioPhone 5G would come in at under ₹10,000 ($135). I'll share additional details as I receive them, but Jio will be looking to introduce the JioPhone 5G at a lower price point than Xiaomi and Realme's 5G-based budget phones; with the Chinese duo offering 5G phones in the vicinity of ₹14,000 ($187), the JioPhone 5G should cost much less.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.