Airtel may launch low-cost 4G smartphones to take on Jio Android phones

Airtel is in talks with local phone manufacturers to launch affordable 4G phones in the country.

Highlights
  • Airtel is reportedly planning to launch low-cost 4G smartphones
  • The company is already in talks with smartphone manufacturers
  • Reliance Jio plans to launch affordable Android-powered phones later this year

About 400 million people still use feature phones in India and are yet to make the switch to a 4G smartphone. In order to make India a “2G-mukt Bharat”, Reliance Jio tied up with Google with the intention to launch affordable 4G smartphones in the country soon. Now, a new report has emerged on the web claiming that Airtel is also planning to launch low-cost 4G smartphones in India. The telecom company is reportedly in talks with local phone manufacturers to explore options like launching locked devices in the country.

Also read: Reliance Jio to make over 100 million low-cost Android smartphones by December: report

As per The Economic Times, Airtel is exploring both locked and unlocked devices for this programme. These affordable Airtel smartphones will be manufactured in partnership with Indian brands and will offer 4G connectivity at a low price. For those unaware, there is no concept of locked smartphones in the Indian market, while in some other western markets such as the US, smartphones are sold in partnership with the telecom operators.

Under such programs, users don’t have to pay the full cost of the smartphone during the purchase. Instead, they pay a subsidized cost in the form of the monthly rental. Airtel, in the past, has offered a similar program in partnership with local brand Celkon and is reported to be evaluating a similar offering again.

With this program, Airtel is eyeing to retain the consumer base that’s currently using 2G or 3G services and might potentially get lured by upcoming low-end Android-powered Jio 4G smartphones. This move will eventually help telecom operators in shifting their consumer base to 4G, who were otherwise not willing to do so due to the unavailability of affordable unlocked 4G-ready feature phones or smartphones.