Vodafone, which is offering the iconic Apple iPhone in India along with Airtel, has tied up with Axis Bank and Barclays to offer the phone on six or 12 equated monthly installments (EMIs) for customers who may find the Rs 31,000 to Rs 36,000 price tag too steep.
Talks are also in the final stages with ICICI Bank and an agreement is expected to be signed in a few days.
The caveat is that customers have to buy the iPhone on the credit cards of one of these banks. The interest rate on the EMI, however, will be significantly lower than standard creditcard charges.
Industry sources said talks with one of the country's largest credit card companies Citibank were not successful.
For Vodafone, the phone will be available through 250 stores in 50 cities across India. Apple stores will also stock the product.
In Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, customers who have paid Rs 10,000 advance will be invited to pick up their phones at midnight. Executives said the company has received bookings from over 2,000 customers.
Airtel, however, said it has had over 200,000 pre-registrations. It will launch the phone in more than 65 cities beginning tomorrow. To woo more customers it will also offer 500 MB of downloads free of cost for a year apart from some other value-added services.
Sanjay Kapoor, Bharti Airtel president for mobility, said it had no immediate plans for an EMI scheme though they are looking at some options.
The iPhone in India is much more steeply priced than that in the US, where it costs $199 (around Rs 8,300) plus a yearly charge of $99 (Rs 4,200), principally because service providers are subsidising the handset.
"In the US you have lock-in contracts with a phone that does not work in India as there is lack of accountability," said Kapoor. "We will not make any money on this product it is just to give the customer the best experience."