Inline with the announcement that the telecom operator made during its last earnings call, Idea Cellular has launched self-branded, low cost Android smartphones in its effort to drive 3G usage. The two handsets, Idea Blade and Idea ID 280, will be available across all major Indian cities and will be bundled with a 3G data and mobile TV package, effectively bringing the cost of the handsets close to feature phones. While the Idea Blade will be available at an MRP of Rs 7992, the ID 280 has been priced at Rs 5850.

According to the company, it will offer a special 3G data package worth Rs 3500, if the customer chooses to pay Rs 259 in addition to the handset cost, making the effective price as low as Rs 2609. The package will include free subscription to Idea TV for 3 months, 1 GB of data download per month for 3 months, 3G Double Dhamaka benefits for 6 months, and Talktime of Rs 25 and will be available for both prepaid and postpaid users.


Handset specs: The smartphones are based on Android 2.2 and also sport a 3.2 MP Camera, Touchscreen (3.5” & 2.8” Screen size), GPS Navigation software, FM radio and MP3 Player, WiFi, Bluetooth, Social Media Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Operamini web browser, and pre-loaded Google and Youtube, besides acces to Idea TV. The handset devices can also operate as a Wi-Fi router. According to, the handsets are essentially rebranded versions of the ZTE Blade, which also sells as Dell XCD 35 and Huawei Ideos X1. Sanjay Bafna of TelecomTalk tweeted that the phones will be SIM unlocked, which means that users will be able to use the phone on other networks.

Handsets to promote 3G adoption? : Previously, Vodafone and MTS had launched low priced Android smartphones in a bid to increase smartphone penetration in the Indian market and promote data usage. However, after the launch buzz, we’ve not really seen these companies aggressively marketing these products. Vodafone instead preferred to promote their low-cost Facebook feature phone. Also, most of these phones are rebranded versions of handsets produced by Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers. Producing in large volumes helps in bringing down the cost, but we wonder if these phones actually offer a quality smartphone experience, specially with apps like games or video streaming utilities not delivering a stutter free performance on low-end Android phones. Also, the question here is, does everyone who uses data need a smart phone?

Idea is offering a promotional 3G data pack with an additional cost for 3G usage, which is a good move, however what happens to the user after the expiration of the bundled benefits? With the existing 3G tariffs it’s difficult that users would continue with the same plans. Although, if you notice, telcos have extended double data benefits on 3G plans beyond Diwali, which is a good sign.

Do you feel that Idea would be able to drive 3G adoption, just by launching cheaper smart phones?

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