India's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel today joined hands with Celkon to offer a low cost bundled 4G smartphone at an "effective price" of Rs 1,349 in a bid to counter JioPhone.
The latest offering comes under the 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative by Airtel. Earlier this month, the Sunil Mittal company had tied up with Karbonn Mobiles to bring 4G smartphone at an effective cost of Rs 1,399. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has already announced an Internet-enabled feature phone for a refundable deposit of Rs 1,500, and the incumbent operators are now lining up their own bundled offers to counter the offensive.
Vodafone India last week said it has partnered with mobile handset firm Micromax to launch a 4G smartphone at an 'effective price' of Rs 999. According to an Airtel statement, the 'Celkon Smart 4G' (Rs 3,500 market price) has a 4-inch touchscreen, dual SIM slots, and FM radio. The Android device has access to all apps on Google Play Store, including YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp, Airtel said in a statement announcing its latest partnership with the Indian mobile device maker.
The phone comes bundled with a Airtel monthly pack of Rs 169, the statement added. The offer requires a customer to make a downpayment of Rs 2,849 for the 4G smartphone followed by 36 monthly recharges of Rs 169. The cash refund of Rs 500 can be availed after 18 months and an additional Rs 1,000 after 36 months - adding up to a total Rs 1,500 cash benefit. Those who do not want the Rs 169 bundled plan will have the flexibility of doing recharges of any denomination and validity as per individual needs. But the cash refund benefit will accrue only when recharges worth Rs 3,000 are made in the initial 18 months to claim the first refund instalment of Rs 500 and another Rs 3,000 in subsequent 18 months for second refund instalment of Rs 1,000 it explained. The company also said the ownership of the smartphone is completely with the customer.
On the announcement, Raj Pudipeddi, Director, Consumer Business and Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel, said the partnership with Celkon forms part of the company's endeavor to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and build an 'open ecosystem' of low-cost devices. "Celkon has the strong brand affinity and deep distribution in southern Indian markets, and our partnership will enable us to serve a large set of customers with this affordable smartphone proposition," he said. The company is looking to bring more device partners on- board in the near future, he added.