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Airtel Plans Co-Branded Smartphones To Retain 2G Users As JioPhone Gets Delayed

Airtel Plans Co-Branded Smartphones To Retain 2G Users As JioPhone Gets Delayed

Airtel is reportedly considering co-branding smartphone deals with various handset manufacturers along with bundled data and voice offer

The telecom operator has reportedly floated a request for proposal for handsets and manufacturers such as Lava, Karbonn and HMD Global have shown interest

Airtel will not be a part of the handset subsidy game in contrast to its competitor Reliance Jio

Just days after Jio announced a delay in launch of its JioPhone due to chip shortage, Airtel is reportedly considering co-branding smartphone deals with handset manufacturers along with bundled data and voice offer. This will reduce the effective price of a smartphone and help Airtel retain its 2G subscriber base ahead of the JioPhone’s launch near Diwali. 

However, Airtel does not want to be a part of the handset subsidy game in contrast to its competitor Reliance Jio. Reports suggest that the JioPhone will be heavily subsidised — around an ‘estimated’ price of INR 3,499. This low price is reportedly being offered to entice the Airtel and Vodafone Idea’s 2G customers. 

Sunil Mittal-led telecom operator has reportedly floated a request for proposal for handsets; manufacturers such as Lava, Karbonn and HMD Global have shown interest, and reports suggest that the companies are ready with possible devices and specifications. 

When reached out, Lava declined to comment on the development, saying “nothing has been finalised so far”.

Head of industry intelligence group (IIG) at CMR, a Gurugram-based market research firm, Prabhu Ram, told Inc42 that India’s digital economy is on the rise, driven by, among others, the pandemic. “As a new class of aspirational Indians seek to join the mainstream digital economy, they need smartphones that are affordable and accessible to them. Airtel’s move to introduce new, affordable smartphones is aimed to facilitate migration of its feature phone users. The question is how affordable will the offering be?” he said.

While 44% of Indians use 4G there are still nearly 300 Mn 2G users across the country. The new JioPhone is specifically looking to target these 2G users. Reports suggest that the latest phones will bode Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 processor which supports 4G networks. In addition, Reliance Jio is also planning to add the 2GB RAM and 3GB RAM variants with an internal storage of 16GB or 32GB. 

Currently, in the Indian market, an average 4G phone with Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB RAM and 16 GB storage starts for an average of INR 10,000.