Airtel and Reliance Jio’s rivalry is all set to hit new heights with the arrival of news that the former is planning on launching a low-cost 4G smartphone. If true, the device would serve as a direct challenge to the Rs 1500 JioPhone.
Airtel is apparently in advanced talks with handsets makers like Lava and Karbonn to unveil a 4G-ready smartphone that is priced at Rs 2500. It reportedly wants to debut the phone during the festive Diwali season, perhaps at some point between the end of September and early October.
According to the Economic Times, Airtel won’t be subsidizing the handset, but will co-promote it and bundle it with attractive voice and data offers. The device might be based on Google’s ultra-light Android Go platform. The OS is specifically meant for low-cost phones with basic specs and functions as a lightweight version of Android Oreo.
Running Android will be a key advantage for Airtel’s mystery handset since it’ll allow access to the Play Store. This won’t be possible with a feature phone like the Reliance JioPhone which comes with a closed environment that limits the number of compatible apps. Moreover, the former will probably offer a better camera, battery, and screen.
We’ll have to wait and see which gamble pays off in the end. Both Airtel and Reliance Jio are targeting stubborn feature phone users who don’t want to switch to 4G or smartphones because of factors like cost and ease of use. Interestingly, it seems the latter is preparing to launch more than one JioPhone model at various rates.