Indians might soon be able to buy off 4G smartphones at a price starting from just Rs 500, and the plan is to bundle this unbelievably cheap device with monthly voice and data plans starting from just Rs 60-70! No, it’s not Jio this time.

Reliance Jio has managed to turn the telecommunication and mobile internet market of India upside down. Pre-Jio era, Indians were used to pay a considerable amount of money to make calls and get access to better mobile internet services. But then Jio jumped in and BOOM! Everything changed. Today, making calls is essentially absolutely free and 4G mobile internet is a daily essential and can be accessed at dirt cheap rates. Having taken over the voice and data sector, recently Reliance Jio decided to introduce cheaper-than-the-lowest-budget 4G handsets known as JioPhones. With that, Jio has once again extracted the best outcome of the stiff industry.

As per reports, telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular have teamed up and are working together with handset manufacturers to create smartphones at a price point that’s lower than feature phones. These cheap 4G smartphones could be priced as low as Rs 500 and may also be bundled with monthly calling and data plans starting from Rs 60. So the new smartphone will be meant to take down JioPhone and the voice and data plan will counter Jio’s latest Rs 49 a month plan for JioPhone users, whose effective cost is Rs 0. So it is a straight-out Jio v/s others situation.

However, the approach used by the incumbent telecom operators will be different from Jio’s strategy of subsidising the 4G enabled feature phone. First, because what JioPhone is a feature phone, and not a smartphone; whereas the goal of telcos is to manufacture smartphones at a price point that’s lower than feature phones. Also, unlike JioPhone, the low-cost smartphones will be bundled up with voice and data plans – outdoing the fiercest competition to Reliance Jio. About when these 500 bucks smartphones will be launched – the telecom operators have not specified anything yet, but we know they are in more hurry than we are.

362