Consider this before buying the Freedom 251 smartphone

By Team Digit | Published on 19 Feb 2016
Consider this before buying the Freedom 251 smartphone
HIGHLIGHTS

The Freedom 251 smartphone by Ringing Bells has succeeded in creating viral interest around the ridiculous pricing. We try to deduce how was it made possible.

From 2014 to today, India has managed to make cheap alternatives in two of the most important topics of discussion. The first, of course, is the most inexpensive Mars mission back in 2014 (that cost less than footballer Angel Di Maria's transfer fee from Real Madrid to Manchester United), and the second is the world’s cheapest smartphone, launched just a few days ago. Here’s where things get tricky: While we actually achieved the Mars mission, no questions asked, the Freedom 251 has been shrouded in mystery/controversy ever since its launch. So, while you may be interested in the phone, here are some things you really need to be aware of.

Their office was empty on the day the phone launched
On the day the phone was launched, India Today went to the Freedom 251 office, hoping to get some more info about the company and its device. To their dismay, the company’s office was completely empty. “When we reached the office, the guard was busy fending off a deluge of visitors. After all, a lot of people were interested in knowing more about Ringing Bell. But all were stopped at the gate. Reason: There was no one inside the Ringing Bell office, even on the day that you can call is probably the company's most important day, writes Sahil Mohan Gupta, from India Today.

There’s a cover up
Quite literally so. It turns out, the Freedom 251 smartphone is actually made by a company called Adcom, which is known for rebranded Chinese phones. What’s more, Ringing Bells has actually used whitener to hide Adcom's name from customers. Now, hiding the name isn’t really the issue, but how it is hidden, is. Could they really not even afford to rebrand the phone properly? It just reeks of unprofessionalism, and is a major reason to mistrust the company.

How can a phone cost Rs. 251?
Ben Wood, an analyst from CCS Insight, told CNET that it’s just impossible to sell a phone at the price Ringing Bells is trying to. According to him, it’s just enough to put a box around it and ship it. Ashok Chadha, President, Ringing Bells, explained in an interview with IBN Live, saying that the company will pass 13.8 percent of the duty protection for being a Make In India company, to the customer. This amounts to about Rs. 450. It will also be saving from marketing and selling costs, in order to achieve sales through economies of scale, eventually. There’s still a pretty huge gap that remains between the original cost of the phone and its selling price, though. According to Chadha himself, such a phone should ideally sell at around Rs. 2500.

Weird error on website
Reddit India'€™s tweet shows that someone tried to order half the phone, and the website gave out a pricing of Rs. 125.5 for it. Umm...really?

In addition, the company'€™s website crashed quite fast on the day of registrations, which, as usual, raised a lot of commotion all over social media.

Not many are trusting it
Pankaj Mahindroo, President, Indian Cellular Association, told the Indian Express that there is no way for a phone to be priced at this. Even Sunit Singh Tulli, CEO, Datawind, which is known for its low cost devices (and the infamous Aakash tablet), found it difficult to believe that such a cost is possible. The cheapest phone that Datawind sells, is one that costs Rs. 2,000 and is a 2G device.

Analyst Ben Wood also told CNET that it even if the phone was subsidised by the government, it is unlikely that the Indian government would bring the price down by this much. The ICA (mentioned above) has actually also written to IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, to launch an investigation on the company.

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