October 17, 2021

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Jio, Google put off smartphone launch till November

A crippling global shortage of semiconductor chips has forced Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Google to defer the launch of an affordable smartphone by two months.

JioPhone Next, the 4G smartphone that was to go on sale on Friday, will now start selling only before Diwali, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) said in a statement late on Thursday. This year, Diwali is on November 4.

The phone has been developed jointly by RIL’s telecom unit and Google.

“Jio and Google have begun testing JioPhone Next with a limited set of users for further refinement and are working to make it available more widely in time for Diwali,” RIL said. “This additional time will help mitigate the current industry-wide, global semiconductor shortages,” the company said.

Jio Phone Next has been designed in partnership with Google and it is for those who are looking to upgrade from 2G to 4G connectivity.

Announcing the new timeline, the company, however, did not reveal the pricing of the phone.

Companies worldwide are battling an acute scarcity of semiconductor chips this year. This has stemmed from Covid-induced factory closures and heightened demand for laptops and mobile phones amid a shift to remote working.

The supply crisis has hit industries ranging from automobiles to smartphones to video game consoles. Several automakers have also curtailed production, leading to longer waiting times for consumers on certain models.

Mukesh Ambani, RIL’s chairman and managing director, said at the company’s annual meeting on June 24 that the new smartphone would be launched on September 10, which coincides with the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

JioPhone Next features an optimized operating system based on Android and Play Store. Jio and Google claim the device and the operating system will offer premium capabilities that are available in more powerful smartphones.

The JioPhone Next is built with features like the Google Assistant, automatic read-aloud and language translation for any on-screen text, a smart camera with India-centric filters.

JioPhone Next is touted to be the most-affordable smartphone, not just in India but globally.

With inputs from PTI

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