Airtel might soon launch a smartphone priced at Rs 2,500. The telecom major will take a direct shot at competition from Reliance Jio with this new ultra-cheap smartphone. Last month Reliance launched the JioPhone which is priced at Rs 1,500; an amount which can be refunded after a period of three years. However, the device is not commercially available right now.
The feature phone market rekindled after a decade of inactivity when Mukesh Ambani launched the cheapest 4G feature phone, which the company claimed would offer the buyer unlimited voice calls. The attractive offer was one of a kind in India until Idea-Vodafone started talks about an 4G ultra-cheap smartphone. Now, Airtel seems to be working towards a 4G smartphone based on Android and
A report from The Economic Times claims that the device by Airtel will probably launch before Diwali this year. According to the report, "Airtel is talking to some handset manufacturers to bring in a smartphone around Rs 2,500, which will have a bigger screen, better camera and better battery performance than what a feature phone could offer," a senior industry executive aware of Airtel's plans said. The executive also claimed that the talks are at a very nascent stage.
The smartphone is expected to run on Android operating system where the user will be able to download most of the apps available on the Google Play Store. Unlike JioPhone, which is basically a 4G feature phone, this device is expected to be a cheap smartphone with bundled 4G services. The open operating system on this 4G smartphone will also follow net neutrality norms.
If Airtel manages to pull this off before Diwali or even announce the device before JioPhone goes on sale next month, the Mukesh Ambani led company might face a stiff competition as the user will just have to pay an extra Rs 1,000 and in turn will get a 4G smartphone instead of a 4G feature phone.
After the launch of JioPhone even Idea-Vodafone came up with a plan to launch a smartphone at a price of Rs 2,500. The launch of Reliance Jio's ultra-cheap feature phone has triggered yet another market war in the telecom sector.
The incumbent telecom operators are eyeing at India's massive 500million strong feature phone user base. Leaving JioPhone without competition in the cheap 4G phone segment, could prove to be detrimental for all other major players.