India’s biggest mobile phone company Bharti Airtel is currently in advanced talks with handset makers to introduce a 4G smartphone in the lead up to Diwali for about INR 2,500, bundling large amounts of data and voice minutes with the device to take the battle to Reliance Jio for retaining a share of the mass market.
The 4G device, which will be co-promoted by India’s top telco and the handset maker but not subsidised by Airtel, will be based on the popular Android operating system. The company will allow users to download all apps available on the Google Play app store, said people familiar with the matter. The launch is likely to happen around end of September or in early October.
“Airtel is talking to some handset manufacturers to bring in a smartphone around INR 2,500, which will have a bigger screen, better camera and better battery performance than what a feature phone could offer,” a senior industry executive aware of Airtel’s plans said. “Discussions are at a very advanced stage,” the person added.
Sources at handset makers Lava and Karbonn confirmed that they are in separate talks with the telecom market leader for a mass-market 4G smartphone.