When the iPhone 5S and 5C was launched in India earlier this month, we got a taste of the contract system. Surprisingly, I felt positive about what I saw, but there was something lacking in both offers from Airtel and Reliance.
Let's get Airtel out of the way first. They're selling the 16GB iPhone 5S at a full price of Rs 53k and are offering a 5 per cent cashback to Citi Bank credit card holders over six months, T&C applied.
Then they'll offer up to a 50 per cent discount on what appears to be their standard tariff plans... which aren't really the most sensible. If you want 1GB of 3G data, you'll be shelling out 800 bucks per month, with 1,400 calls and 500 SMSes free.
That amounts to about Rs 60k in the first year, assuming you don't exceed the free call and data limits, and don't pay by EMI (otherwise you pay interest as well).
Frankly, I'm not excited. Now the really cool plan is from Reliance. This is the proper contract stuff, which I look at with a negative attitude.
It works like this: The 16GB version of the iPhone 5S (and the 5C too) are available without down payment. You pay a monthly EMI of Rs 3k (Reliance execs will look at this and shout “Rs 2,999 ONLY“ at the paper, but really?) for the 5S over a period of two years. But the cool thing is that this includes rentals.
Tariffs, you ask? Unlimited local and STD call and 3G data. So you won't have to pay a separate monthly bill, unless you make ISD calls or roam internationally.
TRAI has capped SMS use at 3,000 per month, but this is still 5x the amount you can send with Airtel’s most expensive plan. Assuming you’re going for the 16GB iPhone 5S on Reliance, you’ll be paying about Rs 72k over a period of two years, or (comparatively to Airtel) just Rs 36k per year.
After your contract period is over, you’ll pay Rs 1,500 per month and continue unlimited usage.
The phone won’t be locked to the SIM or vice versa, so you could easily switch carriers — but you’d still have to pay Reliance for the contract period.
The catch is that Reliance’s network coverage is nothing to write home about. Airtel has a “sad” deal on the phone, and Reliance has “sad” network coverage. If Reliance’s offer is tempting, check out the coverage maps online....