USD 4 Indian smartphones will ship in last week of June
Ultra-cheap Ringing Bells Freedom 251 Android phone previously thought to be scam will ship in batch of 200000 – but the company will make loss on each handset
The USD 4 Indian phone that some thought might never materialise reportedly does exist, but only because the start-up producing it is making a loss on each one.
The Ringing Bells Freedom 251, initially announced at a price of GBP 5, is apparently set to ship this week to customers who pre-ordered the phone in February for – (USD 3.70 or GBP 2.77). At that price – the one the company originally pledged – it is losing the Indian start-up INR 150 (USD 2.2 or GBP 1.65) on each smartphone.
Ringing Bells founder and chief executive Mohit Goel told the Indian Express: “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.”
The 3G Android 5.1 smartphone has a 4in screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 3.2-megapixel selfie camera, a 1.3GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, with a microSD card slot for adding more.
The company says that it has nearly 200000 Freedom 251s ready to ship, with plansto open up orders again in the near future and ship 200000 handsets a month, although to date no phones have been made available for scrutiny.
Since February, Ringing Bells has faced increasing scepticism. At the launch of the phone the company showed off supposed “prototypes”, which turned out to be smartphones made by another Indian manufacturer with the branding covered.
A government investigation led to a raid of the company’s offices over tax and the lack of certification for the device with the country’s telecoms regulator. Ringing Bells was also accused of cheating and threatened with lawsuits over the rebranding of Adcom smartphones.
Should Ringing Bells be able to ship a working Android smartphone to customers on the 30 June as planned, it will be quite an achievement, although whether a start-up can sustain losing GBP 330000 a month at its planned shipment schedule remains to be seen.
Also Motorola aims for Indian buyers with super-cheap INR 6.999 Moto E and ‘China’s Apple’ Xiaomi banned from selling phones in India.