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Aircel offering cheapest iPhone for Rs 9,999, but not without a catch

If you have always wanted to own an iPhone but could not afford the hefty price tag, here is some good news. Telecom operator Aircel is now offering the iPhone 3GS (yes, we know it is pretty outdated by now but the Apple brand never loses its charm) for Rs 9,999. But there is a catch. The price tag comes with a contract and a buyer has to pay an additional Rs 3,000 to Aircel, which means it will cost you a total of Rs 12,999.

However, for this additional Rs 3,000 paid to the telco, Aircel will provide bundled data plans for 6 or 12 months, depending on whether it offers 3G services in that specific circle.

In the circles where Aircel is offering 3G services, one is entitled to unlimited 3G data usage (at speed of up to 3.6 Mbps) for 12 months. But the 'fair usage policy' still applies, which means after you have used 2 GB of data, the download speed will be reduced to up to 128 Kbps.

But in the circles where the telco only offers 2G services, users will get 16.5 hours of free calling (both local and national), 2,500 free SMSes (again local and national) and unlimited 2G data for 6 months (see table for more).

Once the contract ends, users in 2G circles will be automatically migrated to the 'Simple Value 499' plan while those in 3G circles will be migrated to the '399 Smart PI' plan.

The lowest available price we can find for the iPhone 3GS without a contact happens to be Rs 18,960 on Buyatbrands.com while Airtel is also selling the unlocked device for Rs 20,908. So, even if you pay a total of Rs 12,999, you are still paying 30 per cent less than the market price. Plus, there will be free data usage in 3G circles and free data + free calling minutes + free SMSes in 2G circles.

All in all, it's a good deal, but before opting for a purchase, ask yourself a few questions:

The iPhone 3GS will most probably be discontinued once Apple launches iPhone 5 in October this year. Are you okay with an obsolete model?

It is a three-year-old device and hence won't be able to make use of some of the important features of iOS 6, the latest operating system update from Apple also due to be released along with the iPhone 5. Does that work for you?

It does not have a front-facing camera, no HD recording, no Face-time, no retina display and definitely no SIRI. Can you live with that?

If the answers to most of these questions are 'yes', you can go for it.

Also, here's a flashback at the specs to keep things in perspective.

The iPhone 3GS has a 3.5 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display (320×480 pixel resolution) and 163 pixel per inch density, and runs on iPhone OS 3 (upgradable to iOS 5.1). It is powered by a 600MHz Cortex-A8 processor, has 256 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory (non-expandable). This one features a 3 MP auto-focus rear camera that can record VGA videos at 30 frames per second but no front-facing camera. On the connectivity front, it has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G.

It also comes with A-GPS support but there is no card slot and no FM radio. The smartphone in black measures 115 mm x 62.1 mm x 12.3 mm and weighs 135 gm. Apple claims that its battery provides up to 12 hours of talk time and 300 hours of standby time.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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