Apple's iPhone 4 finally comes to India

Apple's iPhone 4 made its debut in India on Friday, nearly a year after the updated model of the handset was launched in the United States, amid growing demand for smartphones.

Two Indian mobile firms launched the iPhone 4 using a pricing scheme that permits customers to recover the cost of the smartphone in monthly credits over a two-year period.

Indian mobile phone company Aircel is charging 34,500 rupees ($764) for the iPhone 4 with a 16 GB capacity and 40,900 rupees for the 32 GB version.

Market leader Bharti Airtel, which already sells earlier models of the iPhone, has a similar scheme for the iPhone 4, which boasts a better quality screen and greater battery life than earlier versions.

India, which has the fastest-growing mobile market, has more than 800 million cellular subscribers in the country where high-speed third-generation (3G) mobile networks, offering high speed data transfer capabilities, now are being rolled out.

But smartphones represent only five percent of Indian handset sales.

Mobile firms making smartphones see India as a market with vast potential with the new 3G services increasing consumer demand for the devices.

Aircel director Sandip Das, whose company is one of India's newer players, said in a statement he expected strong demand for the iPhone 4 thanks to the "robust rollout" of 3G services.

3G services will "drive the next wave of growth in the country's telecom industry," added Atul Bindal, Bharti Airtel president of mobile services.

CyberMedia Research has forecast overall sales of smartphones will total nearly 12 million in India in 2011, nearly double last year's number.