In a bid to counter Reliance Jio’s feature phone, telecom operator Idea Cellular has announced that it will build cheapest ever 4G smartphone. However, the telecom operator, which has merged with Vodafone India to form the country’s biggest telecom network, has made it clear that it will not subsidise the handsets.

“The practical solution that we are working on is to work with the handset industry and work with them to be able to bring down cost of handsets by bringing down the bill of material, so that the gap of the announced price of Jio feature phone versus a smartphone can be brought down to reasonable levels,” Idea Managing Director Himanshu Kapania told analysts.

Kapania said that the handset would be priced around Rs 2,500 and will offer the users the choice to select between 2G and 4G networks while allowing them to use the applications of their choice. Furthermore, the company would do extensive market research of the features that can be used to cut down the price of the device.

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Kapania believes that the 4G handset would not only affect the telecom operators but also the handset makers. “With the launch of a 4G feature phone, not only the existing telecom operators will get affected, it will add a big threat to the handset suppliers,” he said while adding that it could possibly wipe out the 2G phones from the market.

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Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani had unveiled a 4G LTE-enabled feature phone in Mumbai last week. The device comes with an effective pricing of Rs 0. However, interested buyers will have to make a security deposit of Rs 1,500 at the time of purchase, that will be fully refundable at the end of 3 years.

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