India’s wild upstart carrier Reliance Jio has been quick to set up its LTE grid in the past 10 months and is looking for any way to exploit it for its growing customer base.
One of those ways could be a feature phone on a low-cost plan. Verizon has an LTE-only flip phone, why not have a JioPhone? Well, this device is particularly interesting in that the Rs. 1,500 ($23) customers pay is actually a deposit that will be refunded after three years of use — don’t break it and you’re home free.
The candybar phone has a 2.4-inch QVGA screen, a T9 pad and — a rare quirk for feature phones outside of East Asia — NFC.
Local VoLTE usage and SMS are free while 4G data is just Rs. 253 per month for a daily allotment of 500MB — not bad when you consider that, for a time, US carriers provided 500MB of data for a whole month. Customers have the option of paying weekly at Rs. 53 or getting a two-day plan for Rs. 23.
Rural connectivity is the main goal for this initiative as incomes are lower and the need for lifeline services is more urgent.