Airtel reportedly in talks to launch 4G phone at Rs 2500

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Indian telco Airtel is preparing to launch its own 4G LTE smartphone to take on Reliance JioPhone. The Airtel 4G phone is expected to be priced at Rs 2500 and rumoured to be launched around Diwali. This is priced slightly higher than the JioPhone which was launched last month at Rs 1500.

According to the report (opens in new tab) from Economic Times, Airtel is teaming up with a handset maker to launch an affordable 4G smartphone. The phone is expected to run on Android and will let users download all apps from the Play store. Further, it is being reported that Airtel will bundle data and voice with the phone, taking the fight to Reliance Jio.

A senior industry executive was quoted as saying that the 4G smartphone will come with a bigger screen, better camera and battery compared to a feature phone. Airtel is reportedly in talks with some handset manufacturers and that the talks are at a very advanced stage. Other sources have revealed that Indian companies, Karbonn and Lava are in talks with Airtel in this regard.

After revolutionising the 4G data segment, Reliance Jio had announced its first 4G VoLTE-capable feature phone last month. Branded as the JioPhone, it comes with a special Rs 153 plan that gives unlimited voice and data, with access to Jio apps for music, movies and TV shows. Additionally, Reliance Jio has also worked to optimise popular apps like Facebook and YouTube to run on the JioPhone.

To take on the JioPhone (opens in new tab), Idea Cellular was the first incumbent operator to announce its own 4G LTE-capable phone, priced at around Rs 2500. The telco had revealed that its phone would also run on Android and feature a bigger screen, battery etc. Idea’s statements were on similar lines – the company’s MD had stated that it will be working with the handset makers to bring down the cost of handsets.

While Reliance Jio has opted for a feature phone for its first affordable 4G handset, incumbent operators like Airtel and Idea seem to have chosen the smartphone route. Additionally, it is also being reported that Airtel and Idea’s phones will support dual SIM, or at least let you use a SIM card of your choice. This is also unlike Reliance Jio’s strategy – the JioPhone is a single-SIM device that works only on the Jio network.