Airtel teams with Karbonn for cheap 4G smartphone

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REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

REUTERS – Bharti Airtel, India’s top telecom operator, said on Wednesday it had partnered with handset maker Karbonn Mobiles to introduce a 4G-enabled smartphone at the price of a feature phone.

The company said the price for the smartphone would be cut by about 60% to 1,399 rupees ($21.45) and will include a monthly pack of 169 rupees from the telecom operator.

The buyer will have to make a down payment of 2,899 rupees for the smartphone, from which 500 rupees would be refunded after 18 months and the remaining 1,000 rupees after three years.

This plan comes against the backdrop of Reliance Industries’ telecoms arm Jio unveiling a low-cost 4G-enabled phone in July for a one-time refundable deposit of 1,500 rupees.

Jio’s disruptive pricing has upended the telecom industry because of which profits of incumbents such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have shrunk rapidly.

Bharti Airtel said this would be the first of many partnerships with mobile handset makers to bring affordable 4G-enabled smartphones into the market.

($1 = 65.2150 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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