India’s Reliance, Google Developing ‘Ultra-Affordable’ 5G Smartphones

Reliance Industries, Google, 5G India, smartphones

Indian telecommunications giant Reliance Industries, the parent company of mobile network Jio, is working with Google to develop “ultra-affordable” 5G smartphones. 

Reliance Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani announced the project Monday (Aug. 29) in a statement at the company’s annual general meeting, noting that the company is looking to speed the availability and adoption of 5G.

The most affordable 5G smartphones currently available in India retail for $150, and 700 million of the country’s residents don’t have a smartphone, according to a Monday report by Reuters. 

“To take the 5G mass market, a sub-$100 phone is imperative and Jio is rightly positioned to bring 5G to the masses,” Counterpoint Vice President of Research Neil Shah said in the report. 

Jio, which is India’s largest mobile carrier, disrupted the market in the country once before when it launched a 4G smartphone that cost just $81. That phone, too, was developed by Reliance in partnership with Google, per Reuters. 

As reported by PYMNTS in June 2021, that made-for-India smartphone was designed to be affordable while also including cutting-edge features. 

Read more: Google, Jio See Late Summer Release For High-Quality, Low-Cost Smartphone 

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said at the time, “It is built for India and it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time.” 

Monday’s statement about the current 5G smartphone project came on the same day as the announcement that Reliance’s eCommerce company, JioMart, and Meta have joined forces to enable customers in India to buy groceries within Meta’s WhatsApp chat. 

Read more: Meta Joins Amazon, Walmart in Bid for Indian eCommerce Market 

“Business messaging is an area with real momentum and chat-based experiences like this will be the go-to way people and businesses communicate in the years to come,” Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press release.