At long last, Reliance Jio’s sister company Reliance Retail has launched four new LYF phones starting at just Rs 2,999 in its ‘Flame’ series.
These phones sound too good to be true, given that 4G handsets currently cost at least Rs 4,000 or more.
But are they? Or should someone looking for a cheap smartphone opt for the LYF Flame 2, 3, 4 or 6?
The answer, in most cases, is a no, but would depend on your usage habits.
USE CASE SCENARIO
The main factor to keep in mind, when selecting a smartphone is to have a good idea of what you want from them.
Some people, especially those from the older generation, use their smartphones like they would their featurephones — primarily for calling and messaging. If you are one of these, then the new 2,999 rupee offers from Reliance LYF makes a lot of sense and you can indeed go for these handsets.
FREE JIO DATA OFFER
The second category of users who should go for the new phones are the data seekers who are not interested in using the phone after the free data offer from Reliance Jio gets exhausted.
As part of its preview offer, Reliance Jio is giving unlimited free Internet and voice calls for 90 days with these models, and if you intend to make use of the free data and calls, then there is not doubt about whether you should go for these devices or not.
You must, because at Rs 2,999, the price does not even cover the cost of the unlimited 4G data and calling facility that you are getting. The hardware is practically free.
Going by present 4G tariff, you can get only around 24 GB of 4G data for Rs 2,999 even if you choose the cheapest wireless provider.
In comparison, under Jio’s unlimited offer given free with these handsets, you can consume hundreds of GBs of 4G data without running into any sort of throttling or blocking.
In other words, for Rs 2,999, you are getting data and voice services worth Rs 10,000 or more.
Besides, the phones have enough power to serve as decent Wifi hotspots. Third-party 4G hotspot devices cost Rs 3,000 or more, and that too without battery backup.
The third category of users — to which most people will belong — are those who want both: They are attracted by the unlimited data and voice offer, but want to keep the phone as a backup or main device when the data offer ends.
Do the phones make sense for them? Let’s put it this way — if you can add another Rs 600 and go for the Flame 2, you certainly won’t regret it.
The Rs 2,999 LYF Flames are meant primarily for feature-phone customers who are not interested in trying out various apps.
As such, these handsets come with just half a GB of RAM. This promises to be a major pain point for anyone who tries to use the device for things other than messaging and voice calls.
Let us explain why.
The Flame series runs on Android 5.1 and the operating system itself uses about 400-420 MB of RAM.
WhatsApp uses 30-40 MB of RAM and and the Facebook app uses around 60-80 MB. Without extra RAM, new apps would not launch, or the device will kill running applications.
In other words, just having WhatsApp and Facebook installed and running would seriously slowdown your phone if you try to launch more apps. And most people will have at least WhatsApp running in the background.
On the positive side, the SC9830A chipsets found inside the devices are decent performers. The chipset is also found in the InFocus M430, which is priced at Rs 5,500 in India, and comes with 2 GB of RAM.
Despite that, the InFocus M430 has generated a huge number of reviews saying the phone is very laggy etc.. Just imagine what having only 25% of that RAM would do.
So, what is the solution?
The ideal solution would have been to have at least 1 GB of RAM. But unfortunately, you cannot add RAM on smartphones as you do on a PC.
The next best thing? Buy the Flame 2. It gives you all the benefits of the new Flame phones — including free 4G data, calls etc — but also offers a (slightly) more powerful chipset and 1 GB of RAM.
The Flame 2 comes with the MTK 6735M in place of the Spreadtrum SC9830A. It has 8 GB of internal storage instead of 4 GB of three of the Rs 2,999 models, and costs just Rs 600 more.
So, the question arises, why did Reliance launch the Rs 2,999 models at all?
The answer is something we’ve already touched up on — to target those who use their phones primarily for making calls and SMS, plus one more app — perhaps WhatsApp.