In preparation for the launch of 4G services in India early next year, a number of local and foreign handset vendors are introducing low-cost TD-LTE smartphones.
Xiaomi, Lenovo, Microsoft Devices, Xolo and Gionee have released 4G handsets priced at INR8,000-15,000 ($125-235), the Economic Times said. Karbonn, Micromax, Motorola and LG reportedly have announced plans to launch devices at similar prices.
Smartphones from the leading foreign vendors as well as some local makers run on both TD- and FDD-LTE networks but cost twice as much – INR30,000.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, the only operator to have a 4G licence across India, is expected to launch 4G service in some areas in March. The country’s leading player, Bharti Airtel, recently introduced 4G service in 15 cities. Both operate TD-LTE networks on the 2.3GHz band. Less than 300,000 of Airtel’s 212 million mobile connections are 4G.
Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, with FDD-LTE spectrum (1.8GHz), haven’t announced when they will launch 4G. Vodafone said in June it would start 4G trials this year, but that target appears to have been pushed back. Idea said in October that when the ecosystem develops, it will roll out 4G.
Xolo, which is owned by Lava, has plans to release entry-level smartphones in the INR5,000-6,000 price range in the next few months, the Times said.
Prices of 4G handsets have plummeted over the past two to three years. In China, for example, prices have dropped from $500 in 2012 to below $100.
With chipmakers such as Qualcomm and Mediatek planning to release low-cost chips and processors, prices are forecast to drop even lower, which will help drive uptake of 4G in developing markets such as India.