21 May 2020
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been working on India's own GPS version called NaVIC for quite some time. NaVIC stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation that is also referred to as the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). ISRO already has a deal with Qualcomm where the latter will release mobile processors compatible with NaVIC and now, it seems like it has also found its first OEM that will launch NaVIC supported smartphones.
A new Press Trust of India (PTI) report claims that ISRO is currently in advanced stages of talks with the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi for the release of smartphones powered by NaVIC. One of the officials said that if everything goes as per plan with Xiaomi, we could see first NaVIC phones in the market in the next six-seven months. It means we will likely to have wait until Q4 2020 i.e. by the end of the year.
ISRO is targetting mid-range smartphones for the initial rollout as it wants to reach as many users as possible. India is a market where a vast majority of users prefer to go for the mid-range segment as these devices allow them to use many of the high-end and latest features without having to spend a lot. But ISRO is quick to clarify that nothing is finalized yet which makes sense as Xiaomi is yet to sign any kind of deal.
To talk about NavIC, it is a navigation system aimed at Indian users and supports regions extending up to 1,500 km of Indian boundaries. The IRNSS was originally developed for terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management and integration with mobile phones. It will be made available in two forms named Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS) which are aimed at all users and authorized users respectively.