A little-known smartphone company called Ringing Bells has launched the world's cheapest smartphone priced at ₹251 ($4) in India, astonishing observers. It has been pointed out that typically a smartphone cover would cost more than that.
So little is known about the promoters of the project that there is an air of incredulity around it. Promoters could not explain how the company was being funded or how it was being able to offer such a low price during a launch event in Noida on Wednesday with senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi in attendance.
This morning, police had to control crowds that thronged the company's office in Noida, thinking they can buy the device directly from their office.
The phone, according to the specs provided on the company website, has an 8 GB internal memory with an option to expand it up to 32 GB via MicroSD card. Freedom 251, launched at an event in Delhi yesterday in the presence of BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, will be 3G-enabled and run on Android 5.1. The company claims a one-year warranty and 650 service centres across India.
Ringing Bells has a dedicated website for the smartphone. The website suggests that Freedom 251 smartphone will have a 4-inch qHD IPS display. The phone will be powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and it will run on a 1 GB RAM. It has 3.2 MP rear camera and 0.3 MP front camera.
The promoters said the project is part of the 'Make In India' programme. It is unclear if it is subsidised directly by a government programme. It will come pre-loaded with government apps such as Swacch Bharat, Women Saftey, Farmer, Fisherman, among others. It will also have WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube installed in the phone.
Twitter user @hiteshrajbhagat posted images that suggest that the phone might look different from the renders on the website. It will have headphones included in the in the package and there will be an Indian flag on the back.
The website of the phone-maker crashed this morning when it opened for pre-orders, further heightening suspicions about the company's model and ability to pull it off.
There have been a lot of attempts in the past to make technology affordable and cheap. Most notably, Aakash Tablet a.k.a Datawind Ubislate, which was launched in 2011 at ₹2500. The tablet was even promoted by Government of India for students. The company is still making tablets that cost under ₹4000.