If you thought the ₹1,500 rupee JioPhone was the bargain of the century, think again. That’s because Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are all reportedly working with smartphone manufacturers to offer 4G smartphones for as low as ₹500, if a report from The Economic Times has it right. The three major telecom players are also apparently looking to bundle voice and data plans worth ₹60-70 per month with the ultra-affordable devices.
According to an unnamed executive at one of the three aforementioned telecom operators, “We will gear towards low-cost smartphones via alliances. Smartphones are expected to become cheaper, so for an offering with them, it makes more sense than setting up our own phones”.
It’s worth noting here that all these three operators are already offering low-priced 4G smartphones by teaming up with OEMs and e-commerce portals. While Vodafone is offering devices like the Intex Aqua A4 at an effective price of ₹999 as part of Flipkart’s #MyFirst4GSmartphone scheme, Airtel last December teamed up with Celkon to offer the Star 4G+ for just ₹1,249 after all the cashbacks and discounts. While the Intex device comes with an initial down payment of ₹3,999, the Celkon phone has a ₹2,749 price-tag.
Meanwhile, the device that started it all, the ‘effectively free’ JioPhone, comes with a ₹1,500 price-tag that will be eventually reimbursed after three years if buyers recharge with ₹1,500 in the first year, ₹1,000 in the second year and just ₹500 in the third year. While the JioPhone is a feature phone, the upcoming devices are said to be full-fledged smartphones, which is what makes the deal much more interesting for those looking to get their hands on a 4G handset without even paying a thousand bucks for it.