There’s a smartphone priced less than $4 in India. The Freedom 251, launched by Ringing Bells, costs less than a micro SD memory card that goes into it.
Ringing Bells, a relatively unknown name in the fiercely competitive smartphone market, has launched Freedom 251, a smartphone that costs just Rs. 251 or just $3.5, per current exchange rates. While the price does seem too low to break even, the company does have plans to make a profit.
Considering the hardware, the Freedom 251 is by no means a slouch, however, neither does it offer powerful internals that will help you breeze through your apps. Nonetheless, the smartphone does sport decent enough components, processing power, and battery life to execute everyday tasks with relative ease. While the company previously made big waves by announcing the imminent launch of a smartphone that would be priced under Rs. 500 ($7.3), it stunned the world with a model that is priced at just $3.5.
Launched this week, the Freedom 251 boasts a 1.3GHz quad-core processor. Moreover, the phone has 1 GB memory, allowing it to run Android Lollipop. The combination can potentially offer decent, if not spectacular, multi-tasking. For storage needs, the smartphone packs 8 GB of internal memory that can be expanded with an optional 32 GB micros SD card through a memory expansion slot. The phone chugs along on with a 1450mAh removable battery, which powers a four-inch 540×960 pixel display.
Interestingly, the phone priced at less than $4 also comes with dual camera setup. A 3.2-megapixel camera sits at the back, while the front-facing camera is merely 0.3 megapixels, which might be barely enough for a simple selfie. Conflicting reports claim that unlike popular Android phones in India, the Freedom 251 can accommodate a single SIM card, but it does boast 3G capability. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM. As against a plethora of sensors on modern-day smartphones, the Freedom 251 from Ringing Bells has a single proximity sensor, which might only help to control the screen during a phone call.
The Freedom 251 is being touted as the world’s most affordable smartphone in the world, and rightly so. However, Indian media outlet IBN Live, managed to dig a little deeper and investigate how the smartphone was priced way below a memory card and many cases the accessories that come bundled with a smartphone.
Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha revealed just how the company has successfully offered a smartphone at Rs. 251. The Freedom 251 is essentially a rebranded version of the Adcom Ikon 4. A quick price comparison across the internet will indicate the smartphone sells for around $60 (Rs. 4000), which is quite common as far as entry-level phones are concerned. However, a close inspection and cost analysis of the components of Ikon 4 reveals, the phone houses components that collectively cost the company about $38.
How does Ringing Bells offer the Freedom 251 at one-tenth of the normal selling price? Considering the price of components and the intense need to enter the Indian market, the company could have chosen to offer the smartphone anywhere between $40 and $60.
This is where Chadha and his team became creative and sought out ways to cut the price. By taking advantage of the country’s newly-launched “Make In India” initiative, which promotes indigenous production against imports, the price came down by around 14 percent. The team claims they can save another $8 through economies of scale and then will avoid expensive marketing and promotions, which would reduce the price by another $7.
Despite the conservative approach, there’s still a huge gap to be covered, which Ringing Bells will cover through a marketplace for vendors, who will pay the company to set up on the device. The benefits will be extended to the customer through price reduction, thereby hopefully arriving at the price-point that the company has announced.
[Photo by Saurabh Das/AP Images]