A formerly unknown Indian company, Ringing Bells, recently announced that it was releasing the world’s cheapest smartphone. There has been huge demand following the announcement of Freedom 251, a 3G smartphone that will cost 251 rupees — less than $4 USD. With 8GB storage, front and back cameras, as well as slots for a memory card and two SIM cards, the Freedom 251 should be a big deal.


India is the world’s second largest mobile market, but the possibilities of this smartphone are endless. Consider the horizons that will be broadened by the introduction of a cheap smartphone into the market. There is already a huge market for low cost feature phones, in India and beyond. However, the Freedom 251 is not without its skeptics.


Ringing Bells’ founder Mohit Goel claims the phone will be made locally, although prototypes shown to journalists appeared to be made in China. Apparently, the prototypes of the Freedom 251 had painted over brand names on them. The brand seen, Adcom Ikon, is an importer of technology products based in Delhi and claims no association with Ringing Bells.


Considering how cheap it is, the phone’s price is far lower than its cost. So far, it is not clear what way the Freedom 251 is subsidized, if at all. Indian authorities are also probing into Ringing Bell and their claim, with Indian Cellular Association reportedly writing that it is not possible to sell a phone at such a low price. Meanwhile, probes into the company’s financials have apparently begun. To top this up, it has been suggested that Ringing Bells does not have a government-issued certification. With all this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that Freedom 251 has been denounced as a scam.


In response to negative publicity, Ringing Bells started refunding money to customers who had pre-ordered the Freedom 251 when booking opened. It now offers a payment on delivery option with delivery expected to start in April.


Should the Freedom 251 be as solid as Ringing Bells claims, it could spell the beginning of a mobile revolution. More smartphones in the hands of people who could previously not afford them will mean a more equal access to the internet.


What do you think of the world’s cheapest smartphone? Will Freedom 251 be a success? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta