Freedom 251 is the cheapest smartphone in the history of technology. It was initially offered for sale in India at a retail price of RS251 which is equivalent to approximately 4 dollars. The company behind this phone is Ringing Bells Private Company.
The phone is marketed as the cheapest phone in the world. The phone has a design similar to that of iPhone 6 with similar rounded edges with a silver rounded button. Questions were raised over the cheap priced phone and lots of critics followed later others claiming that the whole promotion thing was a scam. Interested buyers were supposed to book the phone in advance during the day of launching the total number of registrations was 3701500 quite a number there.
Currently, the bookings of the phone have been closed the reason being the large traffic on the company’s website that resulted to the systems crashing. The company-ringing bells have promised to deliver the phone to those who have booked by June 30th.
Launch of Freedom 251
The phone was launched by the union minister of defense Shri Manohar Parrikar under the initiative Make-In-India at an event in New Delhi. People had trust in booking the phone since the initiative Make-In-India was a program by the government of India.
The company said that the idea of this phone was to grant a greater proportion of the Indian population access to smartphone technology. This claim could receive critics since the company behind the cheapest smartphone is a startup company.
Features of the Freedom 251
One of the best features is that the device comes with dual cameras. The rear camera is 3.2 megapixels bringing out large clear images and a 0.3 MP front camera that facilitates nice Selfies and clear video calls. Clearly Rs. 251 is a nice bargain for this feature.
Freedom 251 does not have disappointing connectivity. The phone is capable of 3g connectivity which facilitates fast internet mobile data connectivity and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. The phone also feature a GPS you can’t ask for more for the Rs.251 budget, in fact, that’s even too much for such a low budget.
The phone comes with 1 GB ram and 8 GB internal storage. Storage is expandable to 32 GB. This solves the issue of storage. With the 1GB ram, processing is very fast since the phone cannot be overloaded with active applications
The freedom 251 phone comes with pre-installed apps for farmers and women safety. This increases the level of safety for women and also reduces the cost of downloading the apps. This makes it friendly and costs effective to the users.
1450mAh battery. Considering it’s a budget of Rs.251 the battery is a good bargain for the phone and would last at least for 12 hours.
Android lollipop- the majority of low-cost smartphones do not come with latest android versions. Ringing bells have come with the solution. Freedom 251 comes with the latest android version that is android lollipop
With the high processing capabilities gave by the 1.3 GHzquad core processors, the phone is very efficient with applications.
Freedom 251: is it real or it is just another scam?
The telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been asked by the Indian Cellular Association (ICA) that doubted the practicality of ringing bell’s cheap smartphone that was announced to retail at Rs.251 to intervene. According to the ICA even at subsidized prices, the selling price of the phone should not be lower than Rs.3500.
According to Narayan Madhavan who wrote in the Hindustan Times, the price of Rs.251 was only possible through deals with advertising agencies and such deals would be possible only if a large number of handsets were being used. On the 20th day of February ringing, bells headquarters were raided by government officials investigating why the product was not certified by the bureau of Indian Standards.
The concept of this phone has been compared to the Ponzi scheme where more people are required to use this device in order to make this venture a major hit. In theory, it is possible to profitably sell the phone at Rs.251 and is, in fact, an easy trick. The clues lie in the business model and services, not in manufacturing cost.
So why the critics
First thing first, lets’s start with the announcement day, well as we all know the phone was launched at an event in New Delhi and the launch was attended by many people including prominent government officials including the minister of defense who was given the privilege to launch the cheapest smartphone in the world.
Well after the launch the first thing that happened is that the attractive phone displayed on the company’s website was swapped to a less attractive one. Anyhow nobody cared furthermore it was only 4 dollars so the design did not matter. But to more keen interested customers this raised some eyebrows and doubts.
So the media received the prototypes of the phone which in time raised more questions instead of building more hype. To those who had booked the phone, the shipped phones turned out to be ADCOM phones with their logo covered with correction fluid. Seriously Ringing Bells you can do better-correction fluid????
Anyway, at a cost 50 dollar, the ADCOM Company which is a Chinese establishment sells their phones on the Indian market. The phone is certainly not made in India it’s a rebranded phone.
Software of Freedom 251
Okay getting to the software, the demo user interface used in the phone was in all ways similar to the one in apple iPhone including all app icons. Therefore, the freedom 251 turns out to be a cheap integration of iPhone and Chinese phone. It’s not and original device.
In my opinion, a legit company would post its contact details on its website for ringing bells, it a whole different case they have not put any of their contacts in their website. Instead, they have a contact form and the website is sort of amateurish. Considering that the company was only heard during the launch suggesting that it’s a new company, ringing bells should have established themselves first rather than launching not unique products
The time frame for delivery is 4 months. So place your cash to a new website with no contacts hoping to see your product in 4 months. One must be very patient with their money to actually wait for that long for a concept phone.
And it is very unlikely for an e-commerce marketplace to ask for money yet no contact details are available for the company. In my opinion, the company should have partnered with already established e-commerce companies like amazon, eBay, Julia, among many other and sell their product through them as they establish their own marketplace.
Why Freedom 251 have low cost
To understand the fuzz this company had created, after launching this device the company’s website recorded that it received over 600000 hits per second as compared to the well-known Google that receives 40000 requests per second.
According to analysts, it is impossible to manufacture smartphones and sell at such a low cost. Well unless your business objective to generate loss there is no risk of gaining profit. S.N. Rai the founder of Lava mobiles told BusinessLine that in reality this phone was impossible because mobile components such as memory cards, chipset, and batteries even cost more than the price quoted for that phone. He also stated that he worried about the security of the money belonging to the buyers who had already booked.
According to Mr. Gogia, chief analyst at greyhound research said that selling of smartphones depends on at least two factors; pricing and experience. The freedom 251 lacked any of these factors. He suspected that there was some arrangement at the government level since the handsets were loaded with “Make in India” apps.
After seeking answers from the Ringing Bells Company, it turned out that the phone was indeed from ADCOM and that it was used as a demo phone to gauge the reception of the audience. It was reported that the phone would have features similar to the ADCOM phone only that the external appearance will change to another design in the final version. As for the software used on the phone, the company’s CEO stated that they had plans to change the user interface to a custom design of their own.
Ringing bell also responded as to why they released a prototype and stated that when they design a concept they produce a prototype for the purposes of demonstration. Then they test how the product will be accepted by the targeted audience and once the prototype is accepted they take it to their design facilities where they design the chipset and the mold and decide on the other features like buttons, color, camera, and screen quality.
A concern was raised that the ringing bells company’s phone was not registered with the BIS but the CEO responded to the issue and said that the application was being filled at the moment and hoped to have the certification before they start delivering the ordered pieces.The CEO also said that they were registered with the Google android developers and even showed proof.
The aim of Ringing Bells
Ringing bells concept of the freedom 251 to many sounds too good to be true leaving many customers wondering what the catch is or what the company is aiming at the end of the day. According to ringing bell’s president Mr. Chaddha, Rs.2500 is the cost of manufacturing the phone. This is according to the president of Ringing Bells.
So this leaves the question how he plans to recover the remaining 2249 and probably his profit that is if his business model aims for a profit. According to him, this amount will be recovered through taking some measures such as economies of scale, innovative marketing, reduction of duties and establishing an e-commerce marketplace.
He hopes that buying using Indian made materials will help save at least 13%duty. He also added that selling the phones online will save costs incurred on large distribution networks.Mr. Chaddha rejected the claims that the production of the device had been subsidized by the government. He also said that the phones will be manufactured in 2 processing plants that will be set up using capital in the form of debt and equity.
The fact that freedom 251 is in its early stages of conception, will the promised devices be delivered in the span of time promised? How is the business model of the company expected to work? This whole thing of freedom 251 is starting to look as a sham or as the Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya described it “a Ponzi bogus company scam”.
60 million Indians had already registered for the phone on the second day of launching forcing the company to stop accepting new registrations. They reported that they had not anticipated that high interest in the device and only hoped for a smaller order. They allegedly plan to fulfill the first 30000 orders and later continue with their campaign after delivering the devices to the various customers.
The telecommunication ministry of India has received pressure from other companies to investigate Ringing Bell credentials and the reason behind this unbelievable price. It’s suggested that the minimum production cost per unit even in china is not less than 30 dollars, therefore, the ministry is under pressure and ambitious to take a closer look at this offer.
According to the principles of business with such a business model, one thing is certainly clear- the future of freedom 251 is unclear. It’s still a concept smartphone and chances of it seeing a market launch any day are slim.
For now, one would be better of spending money on a well-established brand other than spending money- however little to a concept phone. The phone sounds too good to be true. It’s important to remember the old adage that says “when a deal is too good to think twice”
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