It’s been months in coming, but finally it looks like dual-mode (or world-mode) GSM-CDMA Android phones are here with the Gionee F103.
UPDATE: The model launched in India has CDMA facility turned off. However, HTC has launched the Desire 728g CDMA-GSM mobile phone — based on MediaTek MT6753 — in India at Rs 17,000.
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Gionee has also launched the Marathon M5 5-inch phone with ultra-big battery and CDMA support on Flipkart. The price is Rs 17,999.
The MRP of the phone is Rs 10,399, while its availability price is around Rs 9,700.
Reviews of the phone seem to indicate that one of the SIM slots does support CDMA. See the video below for details.
Of course, the dual-mode capability is not something unique to Gionee, but attributable to the chipset contained in the F103 – MediaTek MT6735.
The MT6735 and the MT6753 were announced last year as MediaTek’s first Worldmode chipsets.
CDMA-GSM Android handsets are called Worldmode because the CDMA standard is very popular in North America, while the GSM standard dominates in Europe and Asia. There is also a standard called TD-SCDMA which is popular in China, and is also supported by this chipset.
Popularization of such chipset solutions can breathe a new breath of life into ailing CDMA business of operators like Reliance Communications, MTS and Tata DoCoMo in India.
These operators have been hit by high smartphone costs. A CDMA-based 4G LTE handset costs about double of what their counterparts on the GSM technology costs in India.
This is largely because global phonemakers prefer not to make/market two versions of their handsets in India, especially given that you can address 80% of the market with the GSM-only version.
However, with the MT6735 and the MT6753 chipsets, that problem has largely been addressed.
Right now, most of the 4G smartphones in India come with either Qualcomm chips or MediaTek’s GSM+4G chips – MT6732, MT6752 or MT6795 (Helios).
The new chipsets, MT6735 and MT6753 are the ‘Worldmode’ (or CDMA supporting) equivalents of MT6732 and MT6752.
Going forward, according to industry experts, all chipsets will come with Worldmode enabled, and the distinction between CDMA Android phones and GSM Android phones will cease to exist.
“By offering a unified mobile platform, MediaTek is enabling its customers to develop on the MT6735 and sell mobile devices globally, thereby creating significant R&D cost savings and economies of scale in manufacturing,” according to the Taiwanese chipmaker.
Let’s go back to Gionee F103, the first smartphone in India to offer Worldmode. The device is somewhat similar to phones like Lenovo A6000 Plus, Yu Yuphoria and so on. The F103 comes with a 5-inch, 720p display, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal memory, 5+8 MP cameras, 2.4 Ah battery and Android 5.
The phone sports very thin bezels on the side for a bezelless appearance.
The Gionee F103 went on sale in China for 799 Yuan (Rs 8173) earlier this month.) Given that Gionee does not sell online, the price in India will be higher at around Rs 9,999.
Gionee is one of the few handset makers that don’t sell online. Selling online helps companies keep dealer margins low and reduce prices by as much as 35-40% in case of high-end phones and by 20% or so for mid-range ones.