According to it, the company will be opening up its network for testing and feedback to the public this month, but the invites and SIM cards will only be available to those who buy its LYF brand of 4G smartphones.
We had earlier reported that the 4G operator may choose to open up its network to the public using an invite-based system to ensure a smooth scaling up, instead of starting off SIM card sales at one go.
According to the report, Jio will sell LYF branded handsets in 500 cities across India along with bundled 4G connections for its network starting January 14 (Thursday). It will offer “heavily discounted” devices and around 20 GB of free bundled data, the report said.
According to our sources, the company currently has stock of a few lakh units of LYF handsets and these have been shipped to the company’s godowns in various cities starting from November.
Details of 4G tariff to be paid by the subscriber are not clear, but it is likely that these phones will come with substantial (read a few GB) of free data bundled along with them.
However, what could deter some buyers are the high prices of the phones, at least going by currently available information.
As of now, there are four 4G LYF phones launched by the company. These are one ‘Earth’ premium phone and three mid-range ‘Water’ phones. Cheaper phones will come under the Wind and Fire series in the future.
According to published information, all four phones come with Snapdragon 615 chipsets, which is likely to disappoint users given the price points at which these are being pitched. The SD615 is also found in the Yureka and Yureka Plus phones, which were selling at Rs 7,999 and 8,999 in India.
The most premium of the handsets is Earth 1, which will set you back by Rs 25,800.
All four LYF phones come with 13 MP rear cameras and 5 MP front shooters and are powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 615 chipset.
Water 1 and Earth 1 have Lollipop 5.1.1 while the cheapest two have Lollipop 5.0.2.
Let us first start with the most expensive.
The Earth 1 model has 3 GB of RAM and a full-HD, 5.5-inch AMOLED display. Similar models cost around Rs 20,000-22,000 in the open market. It also a sports dual camera set up at the back, which helps improve focus and contrast levels. LTE standard for the LYF Earth 1 is Category 4, which supports a maximum download speed of 150 Mbps.
The model just below the Earth 1 is the Water 1, with an MRP of Rs 17,399. This one has a smaller display of 5 inches, but screen resolution is the same at full HD (2 MP). However, display technology is LCD and not AMOLED.
RAM too is lower at 2 GB, though the chipset remains the same. Battery capacity is 2.6 Ah and built-in storage memory is 16 GB. The 13 MP single camera at the back does not record 4K video.
In many ways, therefore, the LYF Water 1 is comparable to the Lenovo K4 Note, though slightly better due to VoLTE support. Though the sticker price of the phone is around Rs 17,399, we expect the final selling price to be in the Rs 12,000-13,000 range. The bundled data will also make it more attractive.
The second cheapest model is the Water 3, which again goes back to the 5.5-inch form factor. However, even as the screen size increases, the resolution halves to just 720p (1 MP), which results in a sharp drop in display resolution to 267 ppi. RAM is 2 GB while chipset is the same at SD615. Internal memory is 16 GB and battery capacity is 3 Ah.
The low display resolution is likely to dissuade a lot of would-be buyers as most phones with a price tag higher than Rs 9,000 now come with full HD displays. We expect the Water 3 to be priced in the Rs 9,000-10,000 range (MRP Rs 16,799).
The cheapest of the four LYF phones — Water 2 — is Rs 15,499.
The sticker prices are considerably higher than what similar speced handsets cost in India. For example, the Lenovo K4 Note costs just Rs 11,999 and comes with nearly everything a user could ask for, including 3 GB of RAM. (However, as far as we can tell, the Lenovo K4 does not support VoLTE or voice calling on 4G.)
Those who do not want to buy these phones may have to wait longer. According to our sources, Jio is still appointing distributors and selecting retailers to sell its SIM cards.
Supply of SIM cards are being promised only by end of this month or early next.