Micromax Informatics has partnered with BSNL to launch Bharat-1, a feature phone with 4G LTE capability. This will be a direct competition for Reliance Jio's JioPhone. The state-owned telecom operator also claims to trump the JioPhone with a running cost that's even lower than the heavily subsidized JioPhone.
Despite a price of Rs 2,220 against JioPhone's "effective price" of Rs 0, Bharat-1 users will end up spending much lesser than JioPhone users in terms of total expenditure on recharges. Bharat-1 users will get free access to unlimited internet, calls and texts at a nominal price of Rs 97.
On the contrary, JioPhone users will have to recharge their devices with a recharge of Rs 153 for unlimited data, free voice calls, messages and access to Jio apps.
The new Micromax Bharat-1 can be used with any network provider, even a Reliance Jio SIM. This gives the device a huge advantage against the JioPhone as it can only be used with Reliance Jio.
The Micromax Bharat-1 device will be available at a price of Rs 2,220 but this will give complete ownership to the buyer contrary to JioPhone's claim over the device. In order to make the effective price Rs 0, Jio had to layer the deal with a long list of terms and conditions.
According to these terms and conditions, users will have to hand over the device if they fail to recharge the device with a minimum of Rs 1,500 per year which amounts to Rs 4,500 in three years. After the completion of these three years the JioPhone user will be eligible for a complete refund of Rs 1,500.
In terms of specifications, Micromax Bharat-1 comes equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 205 which is paired with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. JioPhone also has identical specifications with a 1.2GHz processor paired with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. The device also features a MicroSD card slot that will be capable of reading cards of up to 128GB.
Both devices come with a 2 Megapixel primary camera. Bharat-1 features a VGA selfie camera and the JioPhone features a 0.3Megapixel front camera. Both devices also share an identical QVGA screen with a size of 2.4 inches. Both Reliance JioPhone and Bharat-1 are powered by 2000mAh batteries.
Despite a lower running cost, Bharat-1 phone, which is bundled with BSNL's voice and data pack, will not be able to achieve 4G LTE speeds. However, the state-owned company plans to launch their 4G services as early as January next year.