The Jio phone was the talk of the town when it was launched last week, and would be the cause of trepidation for both telecom operators and phone makers. The device is the first -branded phone, and – unsurprisingly – works only on the Jio telecom network. This way, the -backed company is cutting out the two biggest parties in the process. But Airtel doesn’t seem to be taking this lying down, and has a plan to counter the , a plan that does not involve excluding handset makers the way Jio has.

In the investor call after announcing its Q1 results for fiscal 2018, MD and CEO Gopal Vittal said the country’s largest operator is not interested in manufacturing phones and maintaining inventory. Instead, it plans to join hands with 4G feature phone manufacturers and offer bundled plans for the devices. Airtel has also announced ; Jio is presently the only network in the country. Airtel already offers bundled plans for certain smartphones, so this strategy will be an extension of an existing one.

is currently the in the market (JioPhone will ), but , and are as well. Other smaller brands may start manufacturing such handsets as well, depending on the demand and the costs involved.

Jio is expected to sell 100 million units of the Jio phone within a year, but the device will be . A bundled offer with partner vendor will give Airtel the same kind of exclusivity, and the option to preload its apps on the handset. However, most of the feature phones in the market are dual SIM, a function 4G feature phones are also expected to retain. It is also expected all of them will work on 4G VoLTE networks, such as Jio’s.

The Jio Phone looks awesome but is there any catch? We discussed that on our weekly technology podcast Orbital, which you can subscribe to via or or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.

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