Bharat-1 comes preloaded with the BHIM UPI payments app and BSNL’s wallet app. Buyers of the handset become eligible for a low-priced tariff plan of ₹97 from BSNL.
Responding to cutthroat competition in India’s telecom market, BSNL and Micromax joined hands to launch Bharat-1, priced at ₹2,200. The feature phone offers unlimited voice calls and unlimited data at a price of ₹97.
As a comeback to Reliance’s JioPhone and the recently-launched Karbonn A40 in partnership with Airtel, home-grown handset manufacturer Micromax and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited have jointly launched Bharat-1. The new device will be available for purchase in retail stores from Friday, October 20.
Also Read: Data pack wars continue – Vodaforne vs Airtel vs Jio vs BSNL
Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma highlighted that there are more than 500 million people in India who are “still Internet unconnected” and that BSNL’s vast network across the country would help connect this section of the population.
Desh Ka 4G Phone
Being pitched as “desh ka 4G phone”, Bharat-1 is a feature phone with fairly strong specifications. It is dual-SIM handset, with provision for 4G VoLTE. The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon and a 2000mAh battery. It has 512MB of RAM and internal storage of 4GB that can be extended up to 32 GB with a microSD card.
The phone has a 2.4-inch QVGA display, a VGA camera in front and a 2 MP back camera. It supports 22 local languages and offers access to 100 live TV channels as well as a wide selection of songs and videos.
What You Really Get
Bharat-1 comes preloaded with the BHIM UPI payments app and BSNL’s wallet app. Buyers of the handset become eligible for a low-priced tariff plan of ₹97 from BSNL. The plan offers unlimited voice calls, both local and STD, as well as unlimited high-speed data. Unlike JioPhone, the Bharat-1 feature phone can be used with any SIM card, and is not restricted to the BSNL SIM.
Cost to Customer
Sharma mentioned that the effective cost of Bharat-1 would eventually be lower than Reliance’s JioPhone. This stems from the difference in the tariff plan being offered. While Bharat-1 comes with a ₹97 tariff plan, the minimum JioPhone recharge is ₹153.
The effective cost of Bharat-1 in the first year is ₹3,364 (Rs2,200 for the handset + 12 months of ₹97). This is only marginally higher than the effective cost of owning a JioPhone for a year, of ₹3,336.
After two years of using the phone, a Bharat-1 customer would have incurred a cost of ₹4,528, while a JioPhone customer would end up incurring a much higher cost of ₹5,172. After three years of usage, the difference widens. Bharat-1 will cost customers ₹5,692 versus JioPhone’s ₹6,008.
Competition Seems Tough and Unrelenting
BSNL has been in the midst of a ruthless data war. Meanwhile, Micromax has been reeling under pressure from Chinese smartphone makers who have flooded the Indian market with low-cost options over the past couple of years. Micromax, which has seen its market share shrink consistently over the last two years, is looking to regain its lost glory with Bharat-1.
Although Bharat-1 makes a strong case, JioPhone is pitched as being free, with the customer paying only the monthly tariff plan. Also, Bharat-1 is a feature phone and has to compete with Karbonn A40, a 4G-enabled smartphone launched earlier this month. The Karbonn-Airtel partnership offers the handset at ₹1,399 and the monthly pack at ₹169.