Jio Phone is a looming threat for both phone makers and telecom operators, despite its pre-booking sale opening only once since it was unveiled in July. It came as no surprise to anyone that to counter Jio Phone, Airtel partnered with Karbonn and then Celkon to subsidise the effective cost of low-end Android smartphones under its 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative. The latest handsets to join the Airtel programme are Karbonn A1 Indian and Karbonn A41 Power. Of course, Airtel isn't the only telco to take the subsidy route to beat Jio Phone, as Vodafone tied up with Micromax to launch Bharat-2 Ultra, and BSNL also jumped into the fray with its Micromax Bharat-1 4G feature phone.
Announcing the new Airtel phones, the company's Director of Consumer Business and CMO Raj Pudipeddi said, "We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Karbonn to fulfill the smartphone aspirations of India. We saw very strong demand for our first offer under the 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative, which validates the broad appeal of this innovative proposition. We are also delighted to have Amazon on board as a partner in this exciting journey and look forward to working closely with them."
Pardeep Jain, MD, Karbonn Mobiles said, "We are delighted to partner with Airtel. The immense response that we got for us our offer with Airtel helped us add 70 percent new feature phone users to our existing portfolio."
Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power will be available at an effective price of Rs. 1,799 and Rs. 1,849 respectively. The two Airtel phones come with MRP of Rs. 4,390 and Rs. 4,290, respectively. Interested consumers will have to make a down payment of Rs. 3,299 for the Karbonn A1 Indian and a down payment of Rs. 3,349 for the A41 Power. The telco clarifies that customers will have to make 36 continuous monthly recharges minimum value of Rs. 169. This will make customers eligible to get a cash refund of Rs. 500 after 18 months and another Rs. 1,000 after 36 months, taking the total cash benefit to Rs 1500.
Airtel has also offered a choice to customers if they do not wish to recharge with Rs. 169 bundled plan with the Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power phones. The company says customers can do recharges of any denomination and validity as per individual requirements. However, to claim the cash refund benefit, recharges worth Rs. 3,000 must be done within the first 18 months which will make them eligible to claim the first refund instalment of Rs. 500, and another Rs. 3,000 over the next 18 months to claim the second refund instalment of Rs. 1,000).
As for the Airtel phones' availability, the new Karbonn 4G phones will be available via Amazon India starting next week. Taking a dig at Reliance, Airtel notes, "The ownership of the smartphone is completely with the customer and there is no need to return the device to Airtel/Karbonn at any point to claim the cash benefit."
Both the Airtel phones come with identical specifications such as 4-inch WVGA display, run on Android 7.0 Nougat, pack 1GB of RAM, 8GB inbuilt storage, dual-SIM support, and 4G with VoLTE support. Talking about the differences, the A1 Indian is powered by a 1.1GHz quad-core processor and packs a 1500mAh battery while the A41 Power has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and packs 2300mAh battery. The former sports 3.2-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera, and the latter a 2-megapixel rear and a 0.3-megapixel front camera.