The 4G VoLTE enabled feature phone from Reliance Jio named JioPhone is expected to be available for purchase from Thursday (24th August) this week. Though the handset is a great bargain, it comes with its own share of drawbacks.
First of all, a JioPhone user will be able to use only a Jio SIM card. Most Indians would prefer to have the option to port to another network whenever necessary. It is this Indian affinity for choice which led to prepaid connections gaining popularity over post-paid connections in the country.
Also, we'd rather own our devices than buy them on contracts. Reimbursement of security deposit of Rs.1500 after 3 years by Jio, is in effect similar to the contract system commonly followed by network operators abroad.
Further, the JioPhone doesn't support Whatsapp and it is not clear yet whether the app can ever be used on the phone. As Whatsapp is an essential app for communication in today's times, a major reason why existing feature phone users want to move to a data based plan is access to the app.
So, what are the options available for a customer who wants to buy a feature phone with 4G compatibility? Here's a list of phones which you may consider instead of the JioPhone:
The Intex Turbo Plus 4G was launched earlier this month and is expected to hit the market towards the end of the month. This handset will allow connectivity through not just 4G but also 3G and 2G bands. A major specialty of this phone is that a 2 MP rear shooter and a 0.3 MP VGA selfie camera have been included in it. This means the photos taken with the primary camera will be of decent quality, while the front camera will give you access to video calling function over 4G bands. The Turbo Plus 4G has been competitively priced at Rs. 1,999.
The Lava 4G Connect M1 is India's first 4G enabled feature phone. Just like the Intex Turbo Plus 4G, this phone too lets you connect to 2G networks. Moreover, this handset has dual SIM facility, which is a feature deemed necessary by most of the mobile users in India. At a price of Rs. 3000, the Lava 4G Connect M1 is overpriced for a feature phone as smartphones too are available at this price.
3. Proposed Idea 4G Feature Phone
Idea Cellular recently announced that it is developing a 4G feature phone to combat the JioPhone. While the device will be priced higher than the JioPhone (around Rs. 2500), it will provide many advantages like dual SIM usage, 2G voice-calling capability, Whatsapp messenger, and freedom to choose telecom operators.
4. Micromax Bharat 1
The Micromax Bharat 1 4G feature phone is expected to cost Rs. 2000. Not much information is available about the specifications of the device except that it won't be having a front camera (hence no video calling), its battery capacity will be 1500 mAh, and that it will have two SIM slots.
Also see: Jio Phone: Features Overview And Pre-booking Details
5. Airtel Bundled Phones
Airtel has decided not to manufacture phones and instead will offer bundled plans with 4G feature phones made by handset manufacturers. This move by Airtel will hopefully lead to the market being flooded with devices having diverse sets of specifications, thereby increasing the choices available to consumers.