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  • India’s Reliance Jio network will apparently launch a sub-$70 5G phone.
  • The phone is tipped to eventually retail for ~$34 when sales gain steam.

India’s budget smartphone segment is arguably the most competitive in the world, with brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, and Samsung all duking it out to earn market-share. The country doesn’t have 5G connectivity just yet, but it could nevertheless play host to the cheapest 5G phones around.

The Economic Times reports that Indian operator Reliance Jio is planning to launch a 5G smartphone with an initial price of just Rs 5,000 (~$68), citing a company official who wanted to remain anonymous. This would already be the cheapest 5G phone globally by some margin, but it’s believed the company could go as low as Rs 2,500 (~$34) when production and sales gain steam.

“Jio wants to bring the device for less than Rs 5,000. When we scale up the sales, it can be priced in the range of Rs 2,500-3,000,” the official was quoted as saying.

Reliance Jio is no stranger to cut-price phones, launching the 4G Jio Phone for Rs 1,500 (~$20) a few years ago and getting plenty of people onto 4G. This purported 5G phone could very well get a ton of people onto 5G when it eventually lands in India. However, it’s worth noting that high-speed 4G is still lacking in many parts of the country, so the network will have a major challenge on its hands if its 5G rollout is similarly limited.

A ~$34 to ~$68 5G phone would nevertheless be exponentially cheaper than the cheapest 5G phones right now. Some of the cheapest 5G phones are restricted to China and include the ~$240 Redmi 10X and the ~$210 Realme V3 5G.

There’s no word on the operating system for this apparent 5G phone though, with the JioPhone 4G using the KaiOS smart feature platform. However, Google recently invested in Jio and the duo announced plans to develop and release a budget-focused version of Android.

Next: I spent a week with a $17 KaiOS phone — Here’s what I learned

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