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Reliance's Rumored JioBook: A New Revolution or Just Hype?

Multiple leaks in the press have pointed to JioBook, a new budget laptop from Reliance Jio. Will it be a new revolution or just another hyped product?

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Hemant Kashyap
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Reliance JioBook XDA

PCQuest and XDA Developers, two of the highest authorities on consumer electronics, have reported that Reliance is in the works of launching a laptop, dubbed JioBook. It is expected to be launched at Reliance Jio's AGM, which will be held sometime in either May or June this year.

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Priced at under 10k, this could be the next big thing in consumer electronics market in India, with potential global implications. Or will it be just a hyped-up, sub-par product?

What is JioBook?

The low-cost laptop from Reliance Jio has the price game going for it. At just INR 9,999, or just over $136, it feels too good to be true.

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The story of the laptop goes back to 2018, when Reliance Jio first held talks with Qualcomm to make a laptop. Interestingly, the laptop is still using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip. However, there have been slight changes from the original plan. The core idea was to create a laptop with cellular connectivity, and that has been implemented. That is because India's largest telco can rely on its vast network to provide lucrative contract offers and data plans.

Key Specs of the JioBook

The laptop will pack a SD 665 chip which is a mid ranger from early 2019. The chip is surely old but is capable. JioBook will probably feature a version of Android 10 which will be (rather imaginatively) called JioOS. Though exact screen real estate is unknown, the laptop will have a 1366*768 resolution. Furthermore, the JioBook is understood to come with no Google Apps in a bid to cut costs. Instead, it will come with all the Jio Apps preinstalled. Since Windows 10 is only supported on a few Qualcomm chips on ARM and 665 is not one of them, the device will run Android. The one thing that is interesting is that there are many preinstalled Microsoft Apps, such as Edge, Teams and Office. There is no guarantee that these apps will be there on retail units, unfortunately.

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There will be two models of the JioBook. The lower model will have 2 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 32 GB eMMC storage. On the other hand, the upper model will have double the same. There appears to be a trend of acquiring cheap components for the laptop, with the chief supplier being, most probably, Samsung.

In terms of connectivity, the JioBook is expected to have a mini-HDMI port, Bluetooth and WiFi access over 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. It will also have an accelerometer and an audio chip from Qualcomm.

The expected specs are summarized as follows:

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  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
  • RAM: 2/4 GB LPDDR4X
  • Memory: 32/64 GB eMMC 5.1
  • OS: JioOS based on Android 10
  • Screen Resolution: 1366*768
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi 2.4 and 5 GHz
  • Ports: USB-A, micro USB/Type-C, mini-HDMI port

Reliance Jio and Bluebank - A Cross-Border Romance

Bluebank Communication Technology is not a very household name, and not just because the name is a mouthful. However, it developed JioPhone 1 and 2 for Reliance, which are two of the bestselling feature phones in the country. The Chinese company is set to add another weapon to Reliance's arsenal of cheap 4G devices but there are concerns to be raised here.

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As of late 2020, Reliance Jio has sold over 100 million units of both JioPhone 1 and 2 combined. That is more than a quarter of the telco's user base. The laptop, which is developed by the same company, is at an incredibly low price, will be enticing to an even larger number. People looking to buy a cheap PC or just something to hand their children in place of proper smartphones - the sheer marketability of JioBook can expand Reliance Jio's horizons further than any other product has managed to do.

This does raise the question - is it worth it to go manufacture in Chine amidst the geopolitical tensions going on? Amidst the whole "Make In India" initiative? Global brands like Apple, Samsung and Tesla are setting up shops in the country.

It is a conundrum that can not be answered in a black and white manner. The prospect of a laptop at Rs. 9,999 is highly attractive; then again, the laptop will be made in China with sub-par and outdated components. It is there for the customer to decide, whether they want quality or they want budget.

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Should You Buy JioBook?

If you are someone who only requires a laptop for the most basic of tasks such as typing and streaming, then this might be the bargain of a lifetime. However, the laptop will most likely be limited to that and just that; no multitasking, no heavy apps and definitely no gaming,

One segment which will benefit the most from this laptop are the students - especially schoolgoers. The pandemic has forced children to stay at home and study. While being on phone can be damaging to the eyes, not to mention distracting, a laptop with 4G might be a bigger screen, lesser power alternative to parents around the country, who do not want to buy a phone for their kids but a laptop is too costly.

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JioBook is all the hype at the moment, but only after it arrives at the scene will we be able to tell if it is just that or more.

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