Reliance Jio plans 'dirt cheap' Android Go smartphone under LYF smartphone portfolio

Reliance Retail is planning an ultra low-priced Android Go OS-based 4G VoLTE smartphone under the Lyf brand in partnership with Taiwanese chipset maker MediaTek, a move aimed at netting more subscribers for the new entrant amid stiff competition from India’s older telcos.
 
People familiar with the matter said Reliance Industries is likely to adopt a similar approach to what it did for the JioPhone – the 4G VoLTE feature phone – and offer the smartphone bundled with a Reliance Jio SIM card, aimed at bringing the costs to unseen levels for a such a smart device.
 
Currently, India's older operators have been tying up with smartphone makers to bring prices down of 4G devices to under Rs 1,500 through cash backs. But the new Jio smartphone can go far under that price, the people said.
 
“Reliance may soon place orders for millions of units for the (4G smartphone) device,” one of the people said. “Since Jio believes in subsidizing smartphones for mass uptake, they are most likely to take the same approach for their Android Go smartphone.”
The move falls in line with Jio’s efforts to target some 500 million of the feature phone users that are to yet migrate to smartphones due to reasons of cost and use cases. Jio has been trying to tap similar users through the JioPhone as well.
 
 
The chipset vendor has confirmed its association with the Mukesh Ambani-led 4G telecom operator.
 
“Jio is bullish on Android Go smartphone, and is working with us and the ODM partners to bring the device to the market in coming months. They have really pushed us to deliver Android Go-based device as soon as possible,” Kuldeep Malik, country head for corporate sales international at MediaTek India, told ET.
 
Not just Jio, but a slew of domestic and Chinese handset players are planning to bring their Android Go-based affordable smartphones to the market. Micromax, for instance, is planning to launch its Android Go smartphone at around Rs 2,000, but Reliance Retail’s device, with the Jio subsidy, is expected to be priced far lower. Queries sent to Jio and Reliance Retail went unanswered.
 
The JioPhone has already raked up a 27% share of the feature phone segment, shipping over 15 million devices in the October-December period, outpacing leader Samsung, ET had previously reported.
 
Android Go was first announced at Google I/O 2017 for entry-level handsets with less than 1GB of RAM. Android Go handsets will be able to support RAM as low as 512MB.
 
MediaTek claimed that it is currently the only system-on-chip, or SoC, provider globally which supports Google’s Android Oreo Go edition operating system. Malik said the company is working with almost all Indian handset players for smartphones based on this OS.
 
“Android Go’s potential target is around 137 million feature phone users. We expect 4-5 vendors to come up with their offering by March,” Malik said.
 
MediaTek is working with Google to offer certified and CTS-compliant Android builds with Google Mobile Services to ensure quality Android Go experiences. Malik said this programme will help vendors launch smartphones quickly.
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