We’ve seen a surge in launch of affordable 4G phones in India, thanks to Reliance JioPhone. In most cases, smartphone makers have partnered with telecom operators in the country to offer exclusive benefits to users. For example, Micromax partnered with Vodafone to unveil Bharat 2 Ultra 4G VoLTE smartphone. Meanwhile, Karbonn collaborated with Airtel to announce A40 Indian 4G-VoLTE smartphone in India.
Among a few things that separate JioPhone from other similar offerings is that it only works with a Reliance Jio SIM card. JioPhone, Karbonn A40 India, and Bharat 2 Ultra come with an effective price-tag, which means people will have to pay a higher amount initially (Rs 0 in case of JioPhone), a part of which will be refundable over a period of three years.
Another unique thing about JioPhone is that it needs to be returned to the company (in a working condition) after 36 months in order to get a refund. On the other hand users won’t have to give Karbonn A40 India, or Bharat 2 Ultra back to the company to get their deposit back.
So, what’s the deal with refund when it comes to other handsets? Though Karbonn A40 Indian and Micromax Bharat 2 Ultra might be unlocked, why is it not a good idea to use these handsets with other service providers? We find out:
While Micromax, and Karbonn have explicitly said that their phones can be used with SIM cards from other telecom operators as well, and not just their partners; it is not advisable to do so (at least for three years), as it makes users ineligible for the refund amount.
To give context, Karbonn A40 Indian is priced effectively at Rs 1,399 but users will have to pay Rs 2,899 upfront to buy the device as they will get the Rs 1,500 as cashback within a period of 36 months. It is important to note that people will get the deposit back only if they recharge with one of Airtel’s recharge vouchers.
Karbonn is giving users an option to recharge with Airtel’s Rs 169 plan every month for three years or worth at least Rs 6,000 in 36 months (worth Rs 3,000 in the first 18 months and with the same amount within the next 18 months). According to the company, Rs 500 will be credited to user’s Airtel Payments Bank account after 18 months and the rest Rs 1,000 after completion of three years.
Essentially, Karbonn A40 Indian will cost Rs 2,899 for people who choose to go with networks other than Airtel given they’ll not be eligible for refund.
In case of Reliance JioPhone, it is priced effectively at Rs 0. However, the company is asking users to pay a refundable deposit of Rs 1,500 upfront. Users will get the entire amount back after three years if they return the JioPhone in a working condition. Another condition for refund is that users will have to recharge with at least Rs 1,500 per annum, every year for the period of three years to get a refund.
Reliance Jio has listed a couple of recharge packs for JioPhone users, which includes a Rs 153 monthly plan, as well as Rs 24 and Rs 54 sachet packs. They offer 500MB 4G data per day along with unlimited voice calls and SMS. Validity for Rs 153, Rs 24, and Rs 54 plans are 28 days, one day, and a week respectively.
Coming to Micromax Bharat 2 Ultra, it is priced effectively at Rs 999, and people need to pay Rs 2,899 upfront to purchase the phone. Users will get Rs 1,900 back after a period of three years if they do a Vodafone recharge of Rs 150 or more per month for 36 months. This means, people will be eligible for refund only if they use Bharat 2 Ultra with a Vodafone SIM card for at least three years.
While Rs 900 will be credited to user’s Vodafone M-Pesa wallet after the first 18 months, the rest Rs 1,000 will be given on completion of 36 months.
This means that Karbonn A40 Indian and Micromax Bharat Ultra 2 smartphones need to be used with Airtel and Vodafone SIM cards respectively if users want to get a refund. For those who use the devices with other SIM cards, the cost for for the two handsets go up to Rs 2,899 each.