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NEW DELHI : JioPhone Next, the basic smartphone developed by Reliance Jio and Google, will start selling from Diwali for 6,499. However, buyers can choose to pay 1,999 initially, and the balance over 24 months, Reliance Jio said in a press statement.

The smartphone was earlier expected to launch on 10 September, but was delayed by the global semiconductor shortage.

Targeted at buyers moving from feature phones to smartphones, the JioPhone Next runs on a custom version of Android, called Pragati OS, that Reliance Jio developed with Google.

It is powered by Qualcomm’s entry-level chipset and comes with pre-loaded Jio apps.

“The JioPhone Next is an affordable smartphone designed for India, inspired by the belief that everyone in India should benefit from the opportunities the internet creates. To build it, our teams had to work together to solve complex engineering and design challenges, and I’m excited to see how millions of people will use these devices to better their lives and communities," Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google and its parent Alphabet, said in a statement.

Reliance Jio is trying to lure the 300 million-odd Indians who still use feature phones with its budget smartphone.

Just weeks ahead of JioPhone Next’s launch, rival Bharti Airtel unveiled a cashback offer on over 150 entry-level smartphones, targeting the same customer base.

“The (JioPhone Next) pricing will not appeal to as many customers from the large feature phone segments to come to the smartphone fold as Jio intends to with this initiative," said Navkendar Singh, research director at the International Data Corp. (IDC). “Convincing feature phone users to pay 300 per month for device + data plan will be a massive challenge, given industry ARPU is around 200 and feature phone ARPU is much lower than that."

That said, Singh noted that some JioPhone Next features could still appeal to entry-level and refurbished phone buyers.

JioPhone’s Pragati OS will offer language-centric functionalities, such as Translate Now, which can translate any content on the phone’s screen in 10 Indian languages. Similarly, the Read Aloud functionality can read out content on the screen in their preferred language.

The EMI plans have been classified into four categories for the convenience of customers.

In the Always-on plan, the payment amount is 300 per month over 24 months and 350 per month over 18 months. In the Large Plan, it is 450 per month over 24 months and 500 per month over 18 months. In the XL Plan, it is 500 per month over 24 months and 550 per month over 18 months. In the XXL Plan, it is 550 per month over 24 months and 600 per month over 18 months.

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