Google and Jio delay India smartphone launch due to chip shortage
The JioPhone Next is expected to see a November rollout instead.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
The launch of Google and Reliance Jio's "ultra-affordable" Android phone has been delayed due to the global chip shortage, according to a statement by the Indian company released Friday.
The JioPhone Next was scheduled to launch Friday. Instead it will now see a rollout in early November, putting it "in time for the Diwali festive season" -- one of the biggest holidays on the Indian calendar.
"This additional time will also help mitigate the current industry-wide, global semiconductor shortages," the statement said.
In June, Google announced its partnership with Reliance Jio, owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, as both companies seek to conquer the world's second-largest smartphone market. The new budget phone is designed especially to be used by people "who will experience the internet for the very first time."
The JioPhone Next will run an a version of Android specially developed for India, and will carry a slew of features tailored for the South Asian country including automatic read-aloud and and language translation for any on-screen text and a smart camera with India-centric filters, Reliance Jio said. A report by Fast Company says JioPhone Next will also carry features typically reserved for Google's own line of Pixel phones including a camera app bundled with Google's HDR technology, which it says will "come in handy given the hardware won't be top-of-the-line.
Although we don't yet know the price of the JioNext Phone, there's talk of pricing coming in below the $100 mark as the companies strive to compete in the price-sensitive Indian market. This isn't the first time Google has aimed to increase sales by launching an "ultracheap" smartphone in emerging Asia. In 2014, the search giant tried (then failed) to bring Android phones that cost less than $100 to "the next five billion" users in the emerging markets. The rollout of the so-called Android One was slated for India, Indonesia and the Philippines.