Although it only started in 2016, Reliance Jio is now India’s largest telecom company and has helped drive the adoption of digital services with data plans that are among the cheapest in the world. However, it is not resting on its laurels and is actively looking to expand its reach by offering tech hardware like entry-level 5G phones and virtual reality glasses. What’s also in the pipeline is an affordable laptop that runs Android and is powered by a Qualcomm processor.
According to a report from the people of XDA Developers, Jio is building a laptop, dubbed the JioBook, which could be announced later this year. Instead of using Google’s Chrome operating system, which works quite well on sparse hardware, it is said to run a forked version of Android 10 (at least the EVT model) that may be called JioOS. If this turns out to be the case, the poor experience of Android apps on large screens could limit their appeal.
On the hardware side, the prototype works with the Snapdragon 665, which we have seen in phones like the Redmi Note 8 and the Nokia 5.3. The Qualcomm chip has a built-in X12 modem that will allow the laptop to connect to a 4G network, Jio’s flagship product. Various configurations have been tested, apparently, including the 2GB + 32GB and 4GB + 64GB variants.
A prototype JioBook, complete with a Windows key.
This image of an EVT model shows a fairly basic looking laptop that probably uses polycarbonate or a similar material to keep costs down. Don’t let the Windows key fool you as it appears to be a recycled keyboard used for testing purposes only. It will be changed to a more suitable password (probably the Google Assistant) during the later stages of development.
From the looks of it, the JioBook isn’t designed to wow a spec-hungry audience. Given the company’s history of offering affordable hardware (read: JioPhone), it’s destined to be a low-cost connected laptop for a segment of the population that has likely never owned one before. Alternatively (or additionally) this could also position itself for the education market in India.