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Now, own an iPhone for Rs 3,000

You can get an iPhone for free! No, this isn't one of those scams that abound on the Internet. We are talking about the new schemes that are being launched by telecom firms to push up smartphone usage. More importantly, these will help you get one of the costliest phones in India for around half its price, or even free in some cases.

There are various other phones that can be snapped up at high discounts, like Huawei's ID 280, which is being offered by Idea at half its price, while MTS is giving the HTC Pulse for virtually nothing.

The catch is that you have to stay with the telecom network for a fixed period of time. Such schemes are referred to as reverse subsidy options.

This new business model is the exact opposite of the one in the West, where carriers offer subsidised handsets to customers, along with specific plans, for an extended period of up to three years. Some carriers also charge a hefty fee if these contracts are cancelled before the due date.

For instance, AT&T charges $199.99 (Rs 10,550) for iPhone 4S, but customers have to commit to a minimum of $15 (Rs 791) and $20 (Rs 1,055) for monthly data and messaging plans, respectively, for two years.

However, this model is not sustainable in India due to various reasons-the carriers have to pay a revenue share on bundled handsets, contracts cannot be enforced as they are not legal, and recovery of phones or getting the money back from the consumer is not easy because subsidised phones are not linked to customers' bank accounts or credit rating. Here, the conditions favour consumers, setting them free of any liability.

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