Much awaited, Much hyped Jio Phone has started to reach the customers. The phone was announced in august available at a refundable deposit of Rs 1500/- for 3 years. Booking was open at payment of Rs 500/- and rest of the cash was to be paid on delivery. Though it was announced that Jio-Phone will be a feature phone with basic functions and 4G-Volte technology, perhaps out of curiosity the subscriptions reached 6 million and Jio had to stop subscriptions.
Yesterday evening, I got the message that my Jio-phone has arrived and I can collect it from any nearby Jio store. I went to the shop and there was a small crowd obviously from the people who got the message. after patiently waiting and paying Rs 1153/- (Rs 1000 remaining amount for the phone and Rs 153 recharge for included sim) I got hands on the phone.
The sealed packet has a phone, a battery, a charger and the sim is already inserted into the sim slot of the mobile. Though the packet says it includes a Quick start guide and warranty card, they were absent in my package. The phone is named as Lyf F61F powered by Kai OS.
The video call quality was also good. But an important change noted here is that Jio is moving away from conventional 4G voice call to a chat app based voice call like that of Whatsapp and Skype. Perhaps they may be wising to replace whatsapp for their huge customer base due to unavailability of apps in the Kai environment.
The phone reacts clumsily after switch on. Very slow to respond and the screen looks very dim. It took about 40 minutes for the sim to get activated and I could use the phone.
Calling from Jio phone, Voice clarity is really good even with less signal strength compared to other phones on same carrier. Perhaps, because the phone is optimised for the carrier. Video calling was not available by default. The phone asked me to install Jio Chat for Video calls. But the installation always fails due to ‘manifest mismatch’. After searching online, the issue was referred as due to older OS version, used the update to Kai OS 2.0 and issue was solved.
Clumsiness of the handset also disappeared after the update and the colors of the screen also came alive. Still, the phone has a tendency to hang on the call log, if accessed by pressing call button in the traditional way. It doesn’t seem like a major issue though.
The phone unlocks and locks by long press of * key, but can be set up to use 4 digit pass-code also. It has one sim slot and a memory card slot.
It has a menu that looks like olden day java based phones, with a Jio store to install new apps. The phone includes FM Radio which has inbuilt antenna. So it doesn’t need ear phones to function as an antenna to tune in. There is also a note taking app to keep notes and retrieve it.
It has a pull down shortcut menu activated by pressing the up arrow key. The menu includes airplane mode, brightness, camera, wifi, etc.
Settings can also be accessed directly from this shortcut menu.
This menu also has a flashlight option which powers an LED torch placed at the upper side of the mobile. Long press of the up arrow key can also power the torch.
The biggest attraction in this phone is Jio TV. All channels including pay channels are available in Jio Tv for free (Provided that you have recharged your jio number) in HD quality. The TV takes some time to buffer initially when we select the channel. But afterwards it plays seamlessly without any issues. As the Jio Media Cable is not yet available, the performance of Jio TV when connected to a larger screen cannot be tested.
The phone also comes with access to Jio Music, Jio News, Jio Movies etc, as an added advantage.
The battery lasts for a day on average use of about 30 minutes to 40 minutes of call, 1 hour of browsing and 2 hours of TV watching.
Saying all this, selection of a custom OS is the biggest disadvantage faced by Jio Phone. Kai OS can repeat what happened with Bada OS of samsung. Being an OS used only by one company there will not be many developers making apps for the phone and there will be complete dependency on in-house programmers. Due to the OS issue, there is an absence of popular applications like whatsapp, youtube and facebook.
Though there is no doubt that Jio-Phone is worth more than the Rs 1500/- you spent on it, the only specialty of Jio-Phone is that it is available for almost free (Rs 1500 refundable deposit) and it supports 4G – VoLTE. The other peculiarities like Jio TV and Video Calling are available on any mobile using a Jio Connection through My Jio app. Unless you want to use this as a replacement to your set top box, or you want to return the phone and take back your money after 3 years, you should prefer to buy a Lyf flame at a slightly higher cost. The cost of Lyf phone has come down to around Rs 3000/- and is the cheapest reliable 4G-VoLTE Phone in market other than Jio Feature Phone.
Pros: Price, 4G Support, Jio Plans
Cons: Kai OS due to which there are no third party apps, Lack of touch, lack of accessories.
Cannot tether wifi to other devices