The Indian handset market will soon see unsubsidized 4G feature phones selling at Rs 1500, courtesy Chinese chipmaker Spreadtrum Communications, which is currently powering Lava's first 4G VoLTE feature phone. According to an ET report, the chipmaker is working on bringing down starting prices by at least half from the current levels
Spreadtrum has reportedly started concept promotions to its handset partners to make Rs 1,500 4G feature phone viable in the market.
Only Lava's 4G VoLTE feature phone is commercially available in the market at above Rs 3000, while another home-bred handset brand Micromax is planning to soon bring its version of 4G VoLTE feature phone, called Bharat 1, at Rs 2000.
The 4G feature phone category is set to get a major push from 4G entrant Reliance Jio, which reportedly has a plan to launch devices at as low as Rs 999. The telecom operator is working with Lava and a number of Chinese players to launch ultra-low-cost feature phones in India to significantly expand its customer base by tapping the potential in the rural areas of the country. Notably, Spreadtrum is already working with Reliance Industries and has so far powered its affordable LYF Flame 5 smartphone.
Recently, US-based chipmaker Qualcomm said that it was working with various Indian and multinational handset brands to bring 4G feature phones to the Indian market. It recently launched its new mobile platform or chipset, 205 Mobile Platform which will push the entry-level 4G VoLTE feature phone ecosystem in India. The chipset is available to OEMs and ODMs with devices expected to reach consumers in the second quarter of 2017, the company had said.
“The market has completely shifted from 3G to 4G in the last six months and with a disruptive technology, vendors should attune their go-to-market strategies,” Spreadtrum executive was quoted as saying. He added that LTE feature phones offering additional value should be packaged in a more attractive way and targeted to be sold in tier III locations and rural areas in tandem with growing data market.
In India, the feature phone-to-smartphone conversion has stalled mainly due to few use cases for consumers besides comparatively higher prices of data and devices.