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Jio effect? You could soon buy a 4G feature phone only for Rs 1,500

BS Web Team / New Delhi 02 May 17 | 09:51 AM

Last year, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio disrupted the telecom space with extremely affordable 4G tariffs. The company seems to be geared to continue its disruptive streak by launching low-cost feature phones that, apparently, will do away with the need for smartphones.

Business Standard in January had reported that Reliance Jio was considering to launch 4G VoLTE-ready feature phones that would cost around Rs 999, with access to Jio’s high-speed 4G internet, the Jio digital store and play music.

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According to a report published by The Economic Times on Tuesday, Chinese mobile chip maker Spreadtrum Communications has said it is working on reducing starting prices by at least half from the current levels, which might bring the 4G feature phone prices down to Rs 1,500.

Shanghai-based Spreadtrum Communications has a two-year old partnership with Reliance Industries Ltd and has powered its affordable LYF Flame 5 smartphone.

Reliance Jio Infocomm is understood to be in talks with Chinese contract manufacturers like Techchain, FortuneShip and Uniscope to explore manufacturing of 4G VoLTE feature phones, said a Financial Express report. 

Prices of 4G feature phones from home-grown manufacturers such as Lava and Micromax start at about Rs 3,000. Both these handset makers, besides Karbonn, plan to reduce prices of such phones further. Reliance Jio Infocomm is also planning to bring in affordable 4G VoLTE feature phones through its sister retail firm that may be priced under Rs 1,500, according to people aware of the matter, further said the ET report.

Spreadtrum Communications, which has seen a steady growth in baseband chip segment, competes with mobile chip makers such as MediaTek and Qualcomm. Chipset is an integral part of a mobile handset that accounts for a major price share of a device. 

Financial services firm JP Morgan in its recent finding said that feature phones with 4G capabilities will remain popular in India in 2017, in part due to the boost from faster-than-expected 4G network roll-outs. 

Handset makers are focusing on low-cost 4G feature-rich phones to ride on the growing opportunity offered by Jio's disruptive data pricing and aggressive plans by rivals Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

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