Even though 4G-enabled smartphones are growing in popularity in India, feature phones still continue to form a major chunk of the Indian mobile space. According to recent reports, upgradation from feature phones to smartphones have been slower than expected. It is mainly because of the lack of good smartphones that would match the price of the feature phones. While it appears that the base price for smartphones aren’t going to go down in the near future, companies are now targeting the feature phones segment by offering basic phones with more value additions, particularly LTE connectivity. Reliance Jio is believed to be working on launching a slew of 4G feature phones whereas chipmaker Speadtrum has also shown interest in the segment and aims to bring down price of feature phones to Rs 1,500. Also Read - Best postpaid plans under Rs 600 from Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone-Idea: Unlimited calls, OTT subscription, moreAlso Read - Reliance Jio vs Vi vs Airtel: Best 4GB daily data prepaid plans under Rs 600
While there have been reports of Reliance Jio launching 4G feature phones were quite some time, a new report suggests that the company is in talks with several Chinese OEMs like Techchain, FortuneShip and Uniscope. The report says Reliance Jio has requested for engineering samples of 4G VoLTE feature phones. Only after testing of the samples, the order numbers will be discussed and details will be finalized. If all goes well, we might see a 4G VoLTE feature phone as early as the second half of 2017. Also Read - CSK vs KKR IPL 2021 final match livestream today at 7:30PM: How to watch live for free online
It is likely that Reliance Jio will launch the 4G VoLTE budget phones under the Lyf brand. The cheapest 4G phone under Lyf presently retails for Rs 2,999. At present, there are 4G VoLTE feature phones by some Indian manufacturers but the prices are relatively high, closer to the entry-level smartphones. However, Reliance Jio is expected to disrupt the segment with its ultra low-cost feature phones. ALSO READ: Qualcomm 205 mobile platform: Partnership with Micromax and Reliance Jio a gamechanger
Besides the smartphone brands, chipset companies are also bullish on India’s 4G feature phone segment. Qualcomm recently announced the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform which brings 4G VoLTE connectivity to feature phones. After Qualcomm, Chinese chipset manufacturer Spreadtrum Communications has also developed a chipset at half the price of the present processors; making sub-Rs 2000 4G VoLTE phones a reality. With Spreadtrum already having a two-year contract with Reliance Jio, it is most likely that Jio Lyf 4G feature phone will be powered by Spreadtrum processors. According to reports, Reliance will initially import the devices from China, but soon it will commence production in India.
With over 55 percent of the Indian market dominated by feature phones, analysts see a strong demand for budget 4G feature phones in coming times. Jaipal Singh, Market Analyst of research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) said, Indian handset market will see a jump in 4G feature phones sales after July this year when Reliance Jio is expected to come in the picture with lower priced 4G feature phones, as the prices of these phones are currently high in Indian market.