MediaTek working with Reliance Jio, Google to launch Android Go smartphone

So what happens to Reliance JioPhone?

| Updated on: Jan 31 2018, 13:31 IST
End of the road for Reliance JioPhone?
End of the road for Reliance JioPhone? (REUTERS/Shailesh Andrad)
End of the road for Reliance JioPhone?
End of the road for Reliance JioPhone? (REUTERS/Shailesh Andrad)

Chipset giant MediaTek on Tuesday said that the company was working with Reliance Jio and Google for an Android Go smartphone. The company did not disclose the release date of the smartphone yet.

MediaTek was one of the first players to offer Android Go compatibility. The company's collaboration with Reliance Jio and Google would pave way for more capable entry-level 4G VoLTE smartphones.

Its MT6381 comes with face detection technology which will bring Face ID-like features to entry-level phones. Also, it has first-in-class 6-in-1 smartphone biometric sensor that focuses on health care. This essentially means MT6381-powered phones will serve health data just like the premium phones. The chipset also allows third-party applications to leverage the technology.

Android Go is the customised and lighter version of Google's Android operating system. The OS has been designed keeping in mind the markets such as India where low-end phones with lower storage and RAM capacity.

Android Go works with phones that have say 512MB or 1GB of RAM. It also has built-in data management features and security benefits that the main version of Android offers. It also includes customised version Google Play store that highlights apps that are lightweight and compatible with Android Go.

JioPhone: Disruption

Reliance Jio disrupted the feature phone and entry-level smartphone markets with a smart feature phone called JioPhone. Offered at an effective price of 1, 500 (refundable after three years), JioPhone sold about 6 million units when it went on the sale for the first time in September.

The phone comes bundled with custom low-cost data plans as well as OTT services such as JioCinema from Reliance Jio.

According to recent Counterpoint study, Reliance Jio led the feature phone market in Indian in the fourth quarter of the 2017. JioPhone captured 27% market share in terms of shipment.

The 1,500 JioPhone supplies were higher in the late Q4 and the device managed to bridge the demand vs supply gap, the research firm said.

The WhatsApp problem

While JioPhone offers a range of services that are on par with smartphones, one of the missing and much sought after features has been WhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging service in India.

Since October last year, there have been multiple reports speculating that Reliance Jio may launch a low-cost smartphone in the near future. The smartphone is expected to have a 4-inch display.

Note that rival Airtel and Vodafone have been using this opportunity to offer highly subsidised smartphones that run Android and give access to all of the Google applications.

The arrival of an Android Go smartphone from Reliance Jio also raises question on the future of Reliance JioPhone.

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First Published Date: 30 Jan, 14:30 IST