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Jio-Google budget smartphone launch likely before Diwali

Reliance Industries may launch its affordable smartphone before Diwali, people familiar with the matter said, as the Covid-19 situation improves and demand likely peaks by then.

The smartphone, developed in partnership with Google, is currently being tested at the manufacturing facilities of Wingtech Mobiles, Dixon Technologies, UTL Neolyncs and Flextronics Technologies, three people aware of the matter told ET. The phone has crossed the R&D stage and the company is exploring the option of sourcing components from the likes of Tata Electronics, they said.

The 4G smartphone is likely to be priced below $50 and the company will start pre-bookings in the coming months.

“Google’s job was to optimize the software, Chinese ODM (original design manufacturer) Wingtech is likely to design the hardware, while other vendors will do the assembling,” a top executive said. “Beginning of trials suggests that the phone may be up for launch in the fourth quarter (through December), if not earlier.”

Reliance Jio, Google, Wingtech and Tata Electronics did not respond to ET’s queries till press time Thursday. Dixon, Flextronics and UTL refused to comment.

The festive season around Diwali will be the most appropriate time for launch, said Neil Shah, partner at Counterpoint Research, basing his assessment on discussions with suppliers and the ongoing tight supply situation for components. Brokerage firm JP Morgan said an announcement on smartphone’s pricing and specifications in Reliance’s AGM scheduled for June 24 will be positive, even if the rollout is some time away. The affordable smartphone is critical in targeting a bulk of India’s 300 million feature phone users as Jio moves towards its targeted 500 m user base, experts said. VN Explorer

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