The announcement of Reliance Jio’s JioPhone
has shifted the handset market’s focus back on low-end phones at a time when it was steadily moving towards higher-value products. A number of handset makers now are gearing up with an army of 4G-enabled low-end feature and smartphones.
This trend, however, is in sharp contrast with the way the handsets market was moving till recently. The average selling price of handsets had been on rise and growth had only accelerated in 2017. From Rs 7,670, the average selling price of smartphones
in India rose to Rs 7,870 in 2016. And with growing importance of mobile phones in daily life consumer spending jumped in early 2017, to Rs 9,750 by end-March. It was estimated to cross Rs 10,000 by end of the year.
Intex Technologies, the country’s largest feature phone player, for example, has already launched a 4G feature phone this month. Priced at Rs 1,999, the Turbo+ 4G is enabled with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology – an Internet-based calling feature that is gaining traction since Reliance’s reentry in the telecom
space. Intex is also coming up with low-end 4G-VoLTE smartphones
“Despite the tremendous growth in the smartphone user base, India is still a feature phone-driven market. The emergence of 4G, or smart feature, phones will act as a bridge for users who have been sceptical of switching directly to a smartphone. Such users will be able to experience high-quality voice calls and seamless Internet at affordable price. This will surely give a boost to feature phone segment, as the shift to smartphones
will slow down,” said Nidhi Markanday, director and business head, Intex Technologies.
According to sources, Lava and Karbonn, too, are working on coming up with entry-level 4G handsets in the coming months. Incidentally, Lava was the first player in the local market that came up with a 4G feature phone earlier this year at Rs 3,599. Last month, Jio announced its 4G feature phone that can be bought for Rs 1,500 as refundable deposit.