Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Jio Phone Effect: Bharti Airtel To Launch 4G Smartphone For Rs.2500

Jio Phone Effect: Bharti Airtel To Launch 4G Smartphone For Rs.2500

The ongoing tug of war between Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio is to acquire a sizable share of 2G mobile users base in India.

"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 source working close to the matter told ET.

Reportedly, the smartphone will be financed by the handset makers and not Airtel.

Bharti Airtel that has ruled India's telecom market, it seems, is gradually losing ground as new entrant Reliance Jio with its lifetime free voice call and dirt cheap internet data packs has eaten into Airtel's revenues.

"It (Airtel's 4G device) could be a bit democratic because the VoLTE feature phones (JioPhone) being launched are closed loop (with operator Jio), while the smartphone on Android leaves the choice open for users", Kawoosa added. An earlier report that we had published also indicates that 40 percent of the country can't afford a feature phone, let alone a smartphone. But analysts have expressed doubts over the feasibility of providing good specs at this price point on a smartphone.

Airtel is already holding discussions with handset providers such as Lava and Karbonn for a mass-market of 4G smartphones.

After Idea and Intex, now Airtel is working to launch its own 4G smartphone by Diwali. This is priced slightly higher than the JioPhone which was launched last month at Rs 1500. The device will also feature a 2MP rear camera and VGA front camera with the same resolution. Now, it is giving tough competition to its co-network Reliance Jio. The JioPhone will be available to purchase at Rs. 1,500 - a refundable security deposit that can be reclaimed after two years.

Consequently, Bharti Airtel has chose to launch more advanced 4G mobile device than Reliance Jio. All the Airtel 4G smartphone users can have access to all the applications using Google Play store.

It is a variant of Android announced in May, aimed at regions with slow Internet connectivity and has been created to work smoothly even on lower-end smart-phones.

So far WhatsApp has not officially commented on the report, which talked about the app coming to JioPhone.

Airtel would be able to generate additional sales without having to manage the end-to-end supply chain of making and selling smartphones.

Airtel is the largest used network in India.

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