Dynamics of India’s phone market are undergoing a massive shift. In the coming months, figures will change, sales will see extreme highs and extreme lows, big changes will take place. And it is all because of the JioPhone, which was announced a few weeks ago. This is a phone that Jio will give away for free. There is a cost involved but the phone is effectively free. But then JioPhone is the only smart feature phone with support 4G in the town. Already Intex’s new 4G VoLTE feature phone is out and then there is Idea’s Rs 2500 phone which is supposedly in the pipeline.
Feature phones with 4G support are coming. India is a data hungry nation and that also means that most likely India is going to love these cheap 4G phones.
According to a survey by Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB, in India there are over 420 million internet users. The report states that with 16 per cent penetration in rural India, it is the future market of growth for people who connect to the internet with mobile phone.
In small towns and villages, where disposable income is low, low end smartphones and feature phones drive the majority of handset sales. In such a scenario, the availability of 4G in such low-cost handsets will help bridge the digital divide. The efforts from Jio, Idea or Intex to bring a low-cost phone with 4G VoLTE support is appreciable and can potentially bring a data revolution in the country. But which one of these sounds more promising? JioPhone or the Intex’s new 4G feature phone or the upcoming Idea-Vodafone smartphone? Let’s take a closer look.
JioPhone: Jio, the company that calls data new oil, announced a new feature phone with some “smart” features recently. The phone will be called JioPhone and is effectively free. Not free, but effectively free.
The company will take Rs 1500 as a security deposit for the phone which is refundable for three years. Or is it after three years? This is something that needs to be confirmed by Jio. The phone will come bundled with Rs 153 monthly plan. In other words, you won’t pay anything for Jio except the payment for the monthly plan.
Not much has been revealed about its specs but there are few things known like a rear camera, expandable storage, Bluetooth, NFC, headphone jack and 4G VoLTE support.
Intex Turbo+ 4G feature phone: Intex has launched its first 4G-VoLTE feature phone named Turbo+ 4G. The device is part of company’s feature phone series called Navratna which also includes one 4G-Volte model and eight 2G models in the price range of Rs 700-Rs 1500.
Turbo+ 4G comes with a 2.4-inch QVGA display, 4G-Volte network, 2000mAh battery, runs on KaiOS software, 2MP rear camera and VGA Selfie camera. The phone will come around Diwali and cost Rs 1,999. The 2G models are priced between Rs 700 to Rs 1500.
Idea-Vodafone’s Rs 2500 smartphone: Idea Cellular jointly with Vodafone, recently announced that its plans to launch a cheapest smartphone in India with an idea price point for a handset to be Rs 2,500.
The phone will come with dual SIM support and option to choose between 2G and 4G networks. Company’s official while talking to PTI also said that they will do extensive research on whether it should have touch screen or not.
So which one looks better?
Though it is too soon to give any judgement, there are few things that can be noted.
If you buy JioPhone, you need to pay Rs 1500 plus Rs 153 at the time of purchase, Let’s not take the monthly recharges into account as in other phones also you will have to recharge your number with some plan to use it. So for JioPhone it is Rs 1653 at the time of purchase. For Intex Turbo 4G + it is Rs 1999 and Idea’s phone is speculated to cost Rs 2500. So, taking the price point into account, JioPhone sounds a cheaper deal as you have to pay less and moreover your money is refunded after 3 years. It is effectively free.
What about the phone, the hardware?
Jio has no past records of making phone except its Lyf series and Lyf phones are not that great in terms of battery, have poor camera and also are average looking. Idea also has no history of making smartphones. It is only Intex here that is a proper phone makers. Intex phones look decent, come with good battery and the camera is also pretty decent. So if we take the companies making these phones, it is possible that Intex with its experience may triumph over the other two.
Right now, it is little hard to say which one will end up being a better deal. The JioPhone is effectively free and it is nearly impossible to beat that. But then buyers are varied and so are their choices. People who want to spend as less as possible will probably get the best deal with JioPhone. But people who want to use the network of their choice will prefer Intex because it will allow people to use any 4G SIM card, including Jio. The Idea-Vodafone sounds similar to JioPhone, but given the fact that it will come with a price tag it may end up having better hardware, including touchscreen.