The Jio Effect? More Companies to Launch 4G Feature Phones in 2017

Can they beat Jio in the price game?


Jio 4G VoLTEFeature Phone

Jio 4G Feature Phone was announced roughly two weeks back. Now majority of the Indian mobile manufacturers are in a race to launch their own affordable 4G Feature Phone in the Indian market.


The Jio Effect?

Jio’s entry into the feature phone segment has forced the other companies to re-think on their own strategies in the feature phone market. As a direct effect of the Jio Phone, major Indian phone manufacturers are planning to bring their own 4G Feature Phone by the year end. The demand saw a huge rise following the announcement of Jio’s entry into the space.

Spreadtrum is supplying it’s chipsets for a major part of Jio 4G Feature Phones. Now, Spreadtrum is suddenly in the spotlight and is in talks with four to five major players in the market to launch their own 4G Feature Phone powered by their chipset. Spreadtrum’s Communications Country Head, Neeraj Sharma told PTI that Spreadtrum is expecting to launch the phones by the end of fourth quarter.

Lava and Intex 4G Feature Phone

India’s own, Lava, has already launched their 4G feature phone with a Spreadtrum chipset. Intex also has announced their new Navratna Series, which will have a 4G feature phone starting at Rs.700/-. They will launch by the end of August, but Intex’s 4G Smart Feature Phone will use a MediaTek chipset.

The 2G Market Transformation

India still lags behind internet consumption (taking the whole population into account) compared to other countries. A major part of the population still uses feature phones which are primarily restricted to 2G speeds. Now, with Jio getting into the smart feature phone market, this will open up the space for a 4G network (as Jio is greenfield LTE only network).

Suddenly, it makes sense for the mobile manufacturers to launch their own 4G feature phones, as the demand will only rise among the feature phone users. As of now, Jio with their cheaper plans for feature phones will make them a preferred choice, and handset manufacturers will want to get into the segment as soon as possible.

Jio 4G Feature Phone and Alternatives

The Jio 4G Feature Phones will carry chipsets from both Qualcomm and Spreadtrum chipsets. The Jio 4G Feature Phone will come with an attractive price tag of Rs. 1,500/- per unit, which will be fully refundable after 36 months. If Jio fails to meet the demand, customers will naturally try to find an alternative at the same price.

This is where phones from other manufacturers step in. Jio is ready to start the beta testing of the feature phones from August 15. The bookings will start on September 24. The other manufacturers will have to hurry if they want to cash in on the rush.

The Actual Cost

Coming to the production cost, it costs around Rs. 1,200 to 2,000 per unit. The future Jio Phones though will come with Wi-Fi, and at the end of the year, it will also have NFC on board. It is hard to say, how other companies will price their feature phones, but it will be close or may be less to price of Jio Feature Phones.

The Jio Phone at Rs. 1,500 will still be expensive. But, Jio’s bundled package, with the Phone and the Plan, makes it a more attractive proposition. It sits at a price point where many might like to give it a chance. Do you think other manufacturers will be able to beat Jio at the pricing game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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