Google and giant Indian telco Jio have announced the jointly developed budget 4G smartphone, and the accompanying made-for-India cut of Android, have been delayed.
Announced in June 2021, the JioPhone Next will run a version of Android optimized for the device, an integration designed to help Jio sell it at an affordable price across India. Jio has gone down this route before with own-branded devices that it sells at very attractive prices, bundled with carriage plans and its own apps.
The new device will again have Jio apps pre-installed, and will also include Google’s Play Store, a multi-lingual Google Assistant, an AI-accelerated camera, and over-the-air updates.
At its June 24 annual general meeting, Jio’s parent company Reliance Industries stated that the phone would become available on September 10, the first day of the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi which celebrates the arrival of deities on Earth.
Jio could not meet that momentous deadline.
This additional time will also help mitigate the current industry-wide, global semiconductor shortages
In a statement [PDF] to the BSE stock exchange, Jio said it and Google “have begun testing JioPhone Next with a limited set of users for further refinement and are actively working to make it available more widely in time for the Diwali festive season.”
In 2021, Diwali starts on November 4.
“This additional time will also help mitigate the current industry-wide, global semiconductor shortages,” the statement continued.
Those shortages that appear to be impacting even modestly-specced smartphones, or at least Jio’s efforts to build one and get enough of them ready for a splashy launch.
“The companies remain committed to their vision of opening up new possibilities for millions of Indians, especially those who will experience the internet for the very first time,” the statement concluded.
The JioPhone Next will be significant beyond India, too, because the Reliance Group has already signaled it plans to take it to other nations.
The device therefore matters because Google already offers two other cuts of Android aimed at cheap devices in emerging countries – Android Go, and Android One. Just how the version of Android for the JioPhone Next fits into Google’s plans has never been detailed.
And now we must wait until November to see how it stacks up. ®