Vodafone has become the latest to join the league of telecom operators to partner with phone makers to launch a handset that can compete with Jio Phone. The Vodafone Micromax Bharat-2 Ultra is an Android phone that comes with access to 4G mobile Internet speeds, which is the highlight of Jio Phone too. The operator is offering cashback to consumers who stick around over three years such that the effective ownership cost of the handset comes down to Rs. 999. But Vodafone Bharat-2 Ultra is only the latest to do this, as Airtel partnered with Karbonn to bring down the effective price of A40 Indian Android 4G phone down to Rs. 1,399 while giving the smartphone experience. Then there’s the BSNL Micromax Bharat-1 4G feature phone that doesn’t come with cashback offers but has lower ownership cost and provides unlimited Internet access.
The Vodafone Micromax Bharat-2 Ultra is priced at Rs. 2,899, and requires the buyer to purchase recharges worth at least Rs. 150 per month for 36 months. If the consumer sticks with the phone over 18 months and buy the Rs. 150 monthly recharges, they will get back Rs. 900 in their Vodafone M-Pesa wallet, and another Rs. 1,000 at the completion of the next 18 months. This will bring down the effective price of the handset to Rs. 999 after the cashback, and the minimum ownership cost will be Rs. 6,399 over the three years.
As for the specifications, the Micromax Bharat-2 Ultra sports a 4-inch WVGA display (480x800 pixels) and runs the Android Marshmallow operating system. The handset is powered by the 1.3GHz quad-core Spreadtrum SC9832 processor with 512MB RAM, and has 4GB internal storage. The handset will have a 2-megapixel rear camera and VGA front camera, and features camera modes such as scene, frame and burst. Micromax Bharat-2 Ultra is powered by a 1300mAh battery.
The biggest highlight of the Jio Phone to any consumer would be that its ‘effective price’ is zero. However, users still need to pay Rs. 1,500 as a security deposit when picking up the phone (Rs. 500 while booking the handset and Rs. 1,000 at the time of delivery). This security deposit will be refunded after three years from the date of purchase, but there are lots of details you must remember in order to be eligible for the refund. For example, if you buy the phone but don't use it, Jio can take it back from you, forfeit the refund and charge you the applicable taxes. Similarly, if you return the phone after one year of use, you will get back less than Rs. 500 as refund.
You must buy a recharge of Rs. 153 with 28-day validity every month for the 3 year period. This plan provides 500MB of 4G data per day, after which the speed is curtailed to 128kbps; this amounts to 14GB of high speed data over the validity period. Now, Jio requires buyers of its feature phone to purchase recharges of at least Rs. 1,500 per year to be eligible for the refund. This brings the ownership cost of the handset over the three-year period to Rs. 4,008, if you stick with the Rs. 153 plan every month. If you want to watch the phone’s content on your TV, you will have to subscribe to the Rs. 309 plan, which comes with 1GB data per day. In this case, the ownership cost becomes Rs. 9,624.
As for the features and specifications, Jio Phone has a 2.4-inch display, custom KAI OS-based software, a 1.2GHz dual-core Spreadtrum processor and 512MB RAM. There’s 4GB of internal storage, with support for microSD cards up to 128GB, 2000mAh battery, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB, and support for 22 Indian languages. As for the optics, you get a primary camera with 2-megapixel sensor in front and a VGA selfie camera.
However, there are a few areas where the Jio Phone has an edge over its rivals. For example, it comes with the HelloJio voice assistant, an app store, and NFC chip for digital payments, though support for the last one is supposed to be added soon. It can also connect to a TV with a proprietary cable that will allow you to relay videos played on the phone onto a television - modern LCD/ LED TVs, and old-school CRT TVs.
Airtel and Karbonn’s A40 Indian is also priced at Rs. 2,899, with cashback of Rs. 1,500 that brings down the cost of the handset to Rs. 1,399. Users will need to make recharges worth at least Rs. 3,000 in the first 18 months to avail a Rs. 500 cashback, and then make recharges worth at least the same amount over the next 18 months to avail a Rs. 1,000 cashback. Users will have to make recharges every month to be eligible for the cashbacks.
While Airtel mentions users can make recharges of any denomination, the company is offering a bundled plan of Rs. 169 per month for the phone. Rs. 169 over 36 months total to Rs. 6,084, and the total ownership cost to Rs. 7,483. The Rs. 169 recharge has a 28-day validity, and offers unlimited calling (subject to a fair usage policy) and 0.5GB of high-speed data a day.
Coming to the specifications, the Karbonn A40 Indian smartphone has a 4-inch 480x800 pixel display, Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, and dual-SIM functionality. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB RAM, has 8GB internal storage, and microSD card support up to 32GB. The handset comes with 2-megapixel cameras on the front and back, and a 1400mAh battery.
If you buy the Bharat-1 and use a BSNL SIM card, you will have to buy a recharge of Rs. 97 that provides users with 5GB of high-speed data with validity of 28 days, along with unlimited free local and STD calls (including outgoing calls on roaming). If you consume the 5GB data before the validity is over, the Internet speed will be lowered to 80Kbps, but the Internet access will remain free. Over the three year period, you will pay Rs. 5,692 as the cost of the handset and the recharge packs.
The BSNL Micromax Bharat-1 has a 2.4-inch screen, a Snapdragon chipset, 512MB RAM, 4GB built-in storage, and provision to expand storage by up to 32GB via microSD card. It sports a 2-megapixel camera on the back, and a VGA one in front. For connectivity, you get Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and Micro-USB connector. The BSNL phone comes with support for 22 local languages as well. You get the flexibility to use dual SIM cards on the phone as well as Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, which are not available with Jio Phone.
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|Model||Bharat-2 Ultra||Bharat 1||A40 Indian||Phone|
|Release date||October 2017||October 2017||July 2017||July 2017|
|Battery capacity (mAh)||1300||2000||1400||2000|
|Dimensions (mm)||-||134.00 x 56.40 x 13.80||122.95 x 64.30 x 10.50||-|
|Colours||-||-||Blue, Coffee Brown, Black, Champagne||Black|
|Launched in India||-||-||-||Yes|
|Screen size (inches)||4.00||2.40||4.00||2.40|
|Resolution||480x800 pixels||240x320 pixels||480x800 pixels||240x320 pixels|
|Processor||1.3GHz quad-core||one-core||1.3GHz quad-core||1.2GHz dual-core|
|Processor make||Spreadtrum SC9832||Qualcomm Snapdragon 205||Spreadtrum SC9832A||Spreadtrum SC9820A (SPRD 9820A/QC8905)|
|Expandable storage type||microSD||microSD||microSD||microSD|
|Expandable storage up to (GB)||-||128||32||128|
|Operating system||Android 6.0||Android||Android 7.0||KAI OS|
|Bluetooth||Yes||Yes||Yes, v 4.00||Yes, v 4.10|
|Number of SIMs||2||2||2||1|
|Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL)||No||No||No||Yes|
|Wi-Fi standards supported||-||-||802.11 b/g/n||-|
|Ambient light sensor||No||No||No||No|