Google and Jio, India’s largest mobile network, were supposed to launch their first joint product today. It’s a low-cost 4G smartphone called JioPhone Next that’s designed to give more people in the mobile-first country access to the carrier’s high-speed network. The companies have just announced, however, that they’re pushing back the smartphone’s launch by a couple of months.
According to the announcement, they’ve made “considerable progress” with the phone and are currently testing it with a limited number of users. They’ll make “further refinement[s]” as needed based on testers’ feedback and are working towards launching it in time for the Diwali festival scheduled for early November this year.
While the companies didn’t talk about the reason behind the delay at length, they did say that the additional time will “help mitigate the current industry-wide, global semiconductor shortages.” The global chip shortage caused mainly by factories closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected tech and auto companies around the world. Automakers such as Ford, BMW, Honda and GM had to cut and suspend production due to the crisis. It’s also the reason why Sony still can’t manufacture the PS5 in bigger quantities and why iPhone 12 shipments were delayed by a few weeks.
When Google purchased a $4.5 billion stake in Jio last year in hopes of expanding its presence in India, the companies revealed that they’re planning to develop low-cost phones together. The JioPhone Next will have the capability to automatically read aloud and translate any onscreen text, such as text from messages, web pages, apps and photos. It’ll also apparently feature a better camera than other similar low-cost phones, one with HDR support and with the capability to capture low-light images. Further, Snapchat augmented reality lenses, including India-centric filters, will be integrated into the camera. Finally, users will be able to ask Google Assistant to play music via Jio’s streaming service Saavn or to check their balance on Jio’s payments app.
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