Reliance Jio and JioFi short review: A tale of two cities

So this review is unlike other reviews you’ll find on some of the other websites. It’s my experience with the network that’s on everyone’s mind, on the print media, on your television screens and the internet. I’m talking about Reliance Jio of course. I have been using Jio for a couple of weeks now and just wanted to share my experience if you’re planning to switch to the network or on getting the JioFi device. There aren’t many photos because I didn’t take them. But here’s an average consumer’s take on Mukesh Ambani’s pet project.

 

Chapter 1: The network

Yes, it’s got one of the largest 4G coverage area in the country (probably the largest). The good thing with Jio is that you will end up finding a strong signal even in places where other networks might fail you. I’m based out of Delhi NCR (Gurgaon) and occasionally visit my hometown in Himachal Pradesh (Shimla) from time to time. I always get good reception no matter the place.

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is how Jio manages to give reception in areas such as underground parking lots, elevators, and behind thick concrete walls. Go to an underground level in a building and other networks won’t even allow you to make calls, but then there’s Jio still letting you stream that video.

It’s even present in remote areas in Himachal Pradesh, where I honestly wasn’t expecting 4G coverage.

Score: 10/10

 

Chapter 2: The speed

Okay, this one’s not as rosy as chapter 1. I’ve seen Jio work at 18-20mbps (on Speedtest) at my hometown in Shimla. No other network gives me that speed. Heck, my Vodafone SIM doesn’t even support 3G network in the city, forget LTE connection. I was easily able to stream an episode of Game of Thrones on Hotstar sitting in Dharamshala and got blazing speeds.

But that’s probably because the network congestion in those areas is less. Back in Delhi, the network is slower than most of the other networks (at least for me). Sometimes it stops working completely and I need to take the phone to airplane mode and back to just connect to WhatsApp. It gives me coverage in basements, yes, but the net isn’t exactly fast. That screenshot above is sitting in Gurgaon.

Score: 6/10

 

Chapter 3: Voice calls

Okay, this is one area where Jio is really really bad. I’m not sure but it could be due to the whole interconnect points issue (which is not fault of Jio honestly), but I can’t call people on other networks from my Jio number more often than not. It’s a hit or miss for me. I don’t know if other people face similar issues calling me since I use the Jio SIM as my secondary SIM.

Score: 2/10

 

Chapter 4: JioFi

Fed up of the fact that my BSNL broadband back at Shimla used to be down more often than it worked, I got a JioFi device for Rs 999 during the festive sale. Now, since I planned to use it more like an all time internet device, I didn’t want to get into the hassle of having to charge it every now and then. Also, I did not want to leave it on charging always since that tends to heat up the battery.

The fix? I removed the battery, got my spare Motorola charger and plugged it into my JioFi router. It’s been working like a charm. No overheating issues, no frequent shutdowns. Just like a good old broadband router. Although, you’ll need a high capacity charger for that. The stock one doesn’t cut it. I also think you need the M2S or Jio Fi 3 variant for this setup to work. Oh, and the battery tends to last around 4-5 hours when used.

While the speeds were great, two things I noticed were they weren’t consistent across all devices. The speeds were terrible over one of the iPhone in the house, while it was slightly slower on my laptop compared to the speed I get on my Galaxy S8 housing the Jio SIM inside (not connecting it to the JioFi device but using it in the phone). I’m not sure why this is the case, but it’s there. Still I was getting much better speeds than my BSNL connection, so I’d say it’s a win-win in areas where you still don’t have access to high speed broadband.

Also, you can make calls on your phone while being connected to the WiFi for free using the Jio4G Voice app. Yes, even on a 3G phone as long as you’re connected to the WiFi.

Score: 6.5/10

 

Chapter 5: Conclusion

Having said all of the above, I think my closing comments would be on the lines of making Jio your secondary SIM. It offers decent internet experience but frustrates you over those voice calls (irrespective of the location).

If you simply don’t have access to a good broadband in your area, test the Jio speeds on your phone and if they’re decent, get a JioFi device. Although I’m again not sure if that will work will in densely populated areas like Delhi NCR.