The world’s cheapest smartphone at Rs. 251 (less than $4) is here, finally. Its makers, the Noida-based startup Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd, say they have made it possible despite allegations from various quarters that such a phone would not see the light of the day. Even an FIR was lodged against the company.
According to Ringing Bells’ Founder and CEO Mohit Goel, sitting comfortably in his Sector 62 office in Noida, 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.
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 device has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage and supports external memory cards of up to 32GB. No device was, however, given to IANS. Only a photograph was allowed to be taken.
The company has offered an 8-megapixel primary camera with flash, a 3.2-megapixel front camera for selfie and an 1800mAh battery. It runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop).
The phone is available in two colours – 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.
“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,” he said.
The company is also planning to launch a 32-inch high-definition LED television – also called “Freedom” – in the first week of July.
“These will be the cheapest television sets in India and will be available for less than Rs 10,000. Within two days, the delivery would be made and we will sell them online,” Goel said, adding that the company currently has one lakh such pieces in stock.
In comparison, the cost of 32-inch HD LED TV sets normally begins from Rs. 13,000.
Ringing Bells launched “Freedom 251” in February in the presence of veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.
It distributed some “prototypes” of the product to the media which turned out to be handsets from another domestic handset maker Adcom.
However, the company maintained that the device had been developed “with immense support” from the government.
“Our humble beginning to provide a high-tech gadget that will benefit all in the hinterland and bridge the huge gap that clearly exists between the metros and semi-urban/rural areas is in keeping with the government’s initiatives,” Ringing Bells President Ashok Chadha had earlier told IANS.
Doubts were raised over Ringing Bells’ handset after some experts said no phone could be manufactured for less than Rs. 2,000.
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