Ringing Bells, a Noida-based technology firm, recently launched the Freedom 251 smartphone. Termed as the world's cheapest smartphone, the Freedom 251 will be made available to customers at a price of just Rs. 251, courtesy special subsidized programs from the Indian government.
No spokesperson from the firm was available for a comment after repeated attempts by GizBot to contact them. Initial photos of the Freedom 251 suggest a striking resemblance to the iPhone 4 smartphone. In fact, Pranav Dixit at HT also suggests that it is a rebranded smartphone, originally sold by Adcom, a New Delhi-based importer of technology products.
A simple online search shows that the Freedom 251 is almost definitely a rebranded variant of the Adcom's Ikon 4 smartphone, currently selling at a price tag of more than Rs. 4,000 on most major portals including Snapdeal and Amazon. If these assumptions are correct, this launch might put the whole 'Make In India' campaign under scrutiny.
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We weren't able to get any quotes from the representatives at Adcom as their sales team simply refused a connection with Ringing Bells regarding this smartphone launch.
A big competitor for Ringing Bells - in terms of providing super affordable devices - is Datawind, the company that came out with the Akash tablet back in 2011.
Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO Datawind, said,
"We wish best of luck to Ringing Bells and are positive that they will reach the targets that they wish to achieve, alongside the support of the Indian government. We, at Datawind, are always in support of companies providing subsidized technology products to the people. It helps promote the awareness of a better, digital India."
Datawind has been slammed for not fulfilling delivery timelines for Akash tablet in the past. On that point, Mr. Tuli said that their company entered the Indian market at a time when the annual demand for tablets was just 2.5 lakhs. They received an order of 40 lakh units within months, leading to a messed up logistics situation. Despite that, they still maintain that Datawind is still selling the $35 tablet in India and US via retail stores.
He also remained skeptical about Ringing Bells' promise of fulfilling Indian consumer demand and said,
"We hope this smartphone launch is not a marketing ploy and actual units of the Freedom 251 are sold in large quantities to the nation's consumers. Timelines will remain an issue for them as well and we can just wait and watch if they have the right resources to manage it."