The controversial world’s cheapest $5 Freedom 251 smartphone ready to be shipped on June 30
Finally, the world’s cheapest smartphone at Rs. 251 (less than $4) will see the light of the day. Its makers, the Noida-based start-up Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd claim to have close to 2 lakh units of the phone ready for shipping. And if that’s not enough, the smartphone company is also planning to launch an affordable LED TV.
Indian smartphone maker Ringing Bells shook the entire tech world in February this year by announcing the world’s cheapest phone, Freedom 251 exclusively at a price of Rs. 251 (which is less than $4). They invited everyone to make registrations for grabbing the smartphone at an inexpensive price. However, their online payment model didn’t work as expected and there were many bugs in their website.
Also, Ringing Bells’ claim to be a part of Indian Government’s ‘Make In India’ program was found to be false. The cloud of suspicion hanging around this device further intensified when the prototype devices sent to the media were found to be disguised Adcom phones. The Android icons of the Freedom 251 also seemed borrowed from the iOS. To add to the company’s miseries, it came under the scanner of the Indian Government, which even investigated into this company. Even an FIR was lodged against the company. Finally, Ringing Bells decided to refund the money to its potential buyers and switch to a cash-on-delivery model.
Despite all the hiccups and accusations, the company has announced that it will be shipping the handsets starting June 30.
According to Ringing Bells’ Founder and CEO Mohit Goel, the company has been able to keep its promise to consumers.
“We are ready with nearly two lakh ‘Freedom 251’ handsets. We will start delivery from June 30,” Goel told IANS, adding that once he is done with this first phase of delivery (of two lakh phones), he will open registration again for those who wish to buy the handset.
The company had in mid-February this year planned to deliver 25 lakh handsets before June 30. However, it received over seven crore registrations before its payment gateway crashed within three days.
“We learned from our mistakes and decided to go silent till we come out with the product. Now we have a 4-inch, dual-SIM phone ready for delivery. I feel vindicated,” he said in one breath. “Our devices are completely ‘Make in India’ and were manufactured at our Haridwar-based manufacturing unit. We plan to sell two lakh devices every month.”
According to Goel, he is facing a loss of Rs. 140 – Rs. 150 per unit, but hopes to make profit on volumes. “We will have a loss, but I am happy that the dream of connecting rural and poor Indians as part of the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ initiatives has been fulfilled with ‘Freedom 251’,” Goel said.
The 3G smartphone features a 4-inch display and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. It comes with an 8GB of in-built memory and supports external memory cards of up to 32GB. It sports an 8-megapixel rear camera along with a 3.2-megapixel front-facing shooter camera. The Freedom 251 packs a 1,800 mAh battery and runs on Android Lollipop 5.1. Ringing Bells have also ditched the iOS icons in favor of Android-themed ones.
The phone will be available in two color variants, black and white with centrally aligned rear camera and branding on the back panel. It has a speaker just alongside the branding.
The device displays the Indian Tricolour when you switch it on. The company has incorporated all the basic Google apps in the handset.
Goel also announced the launch of an affordable television set. “The company is also planning to launch a 32-inch high-definition LED television — also called ‘Freedom’. These will be the cheapest television sets in India and will be available for less than ?10,000. Within two days, the delivery would be made and we will sell them online. We have 1 lakh units in stock,” Goel said.
In comparison, the cost of 32-inch HD LED TV sets normally begins from Rs. 13,000.
Whether Ringing Bells succeeds in making the world’s cheapest smartphone against all odds, will only be known after they deliver the Freedom 251 smartphone units to all the customers as promised by the end of this month.