JioPhone booking starts at 5:30 PM today at Reliance Jio stores

The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom operator is likely to start prebooking for its JioPhone device at 5:30 PM today, according to sources.

Booking can done in four ways — using the company’s website, using the MyJio app and by going to a either a Jio Store or any multi-brand store that sells the device.

Customers have to pay Rs 500 at the time of booking.

“The JioPhone will be distributed on a first come first serve basis to only those who pre-book,” according to a source.

The company has promised to make available 5 mln phones per week, and deliveries will start around mid September.

The phone is essentially a high-end featurephone, and operates on a proprietary operating system. As a result, you cannot download and install apps like you can on smartphones that run on Android.

This means that popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook will not work. However, the phone is likely to come with a mobile browser for websites.

To make it more attractive, the company has ported a couple of its apps, such as JioTV on to the device.

Analysts expect the company to sell about 100 mln Jiophones in the first year, doubling its active subscriber base.

The phone is ‘free’ with a Rs 1,500 returnable ‘security deposit’. The deposit, however, is returnable only if the buyer uses the service for 36 months, and not in between.

The service costs around Rs 150 per 28 days and includes unlimited Internet at slower speeds.

There is also a weekly plan for Rs 53 and a 2-day plan for Rs 23 that also provide unlimited calls and data.

To make use of the JioTV app, customers have to subscribe to high-speed data packs that cost at least Rs 309 per 28 days.

Meanwhile, rivals like Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel are likely to come up with cheap 4G smartphones at around Rs 2,500-3,000. Unlike the JioPhone, these devices will operate on Android, and will therefore support popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook.