Telecom operators in India are no longer getting blind-sided by Reliance Jio's peculiar moves. The new telco managed to disrupt the industry with affordable 4G and voice plans, which forced the incumbents to follow its lead. It also forayed into hardware to provide affordable devices to access its inexpensive internet on mobile.

After collaborating with Karbonn to bring ultra-cheap Android-powered A40 Indian smartphone with attractive 4G bundle, Airtel is now partnering with Celkon to empower its affordable smartphone solution in the country. In a direct blow to JioPhone, Airtel is offering its 4G smartphones as a way to win over customers.

The new smartphone is a part of Airtel's "Mera Pehla Smartphone" initiative. Airtel and Celkon's smartphone has similar benefits as the Karbonn A40 India. The telco is offering the new handset, dubbed as Celkon Smart 4G, for an effective price of Rs 1,349 whereas the actual price of the handset is around Rs 3,500.

Bharti Airtel

What's the catch?

Although buyers will have to pay Rs 2,849 towards the Celkon Smart 4G as a down payment, Airtel promises to refund Rs 1,500 after 3 years. The only condition is that the buyer regularly recharges for Rs 169 per month. Doing so for 18 months will give a cash refund of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will be refunded after 36 months, ET Telecom reported.

Buyers also have some flexibility. If the Rs 169 plan is not favourable for Celkon Smart 4G, users can go for any other recharge or any denomination and validity. In order to claim the cash refund, recharges must be worth Rs 3,000 within the first 18 months and another Rs 3,000 over the following 18 months.

Celkon Smart 4G
Celkon Smart 4GFacebook/Celkon

"We are pleased to partner with Celkon in our endeavour to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and build an 'open ecosystem' of low cost devices. Celkon has strong brand affinity and deep distribution in southern Indian markets, and our partnership will enable us to serve a large set of customers with this affordable smartphone proposition," Raj Pudipeddi, director of Consumer Business & CMO at Airtel, said in a statement.

Celkon Smart 4G – Specs

Celkon Smart 4G comes with a 4-inch FWVGA display, a quad-core processor, 1GBR AM, 8GB expandable storage, 4G VoLTE support with dual SIM card slots, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There's Android Marshmallow on board and the handset comes pre-loaded with apps like Wynk Music, Airtel TV and My Airtel. There's a 3.2MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front snapper and a 1,500mAh battery.

Celkon Smart 4G
Celkon Smart 4GCelkon Facebook


Besides JioPhone, Celkon and Airtel partnership competes against Vodafone's partnership with Lava and Intex, and BSNL's partnership with Lava and Micromax. It seems the telecom industry has taken the affordable hardware requirement quite seriously to make India digital.