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Freedom 251: ‘Cheapest Phone in the World’ or a Cheap Trick?

Freedom 251 feeds on Make in India, Startup India and Digital India in just Rs 251.

Updated
Tech News
3 min read
Freedom 251 is a smartphone that costs Rs 251. (Photo:<b>The Quint</b>)

Smartphones were expensive in India. Then the Chinese arrived in with sub-Rs 10,000 smartphones that were as good as a Samsung or an HTC and soon almost everyone could own a smartphone.

Now in 2016, an Indian company has promised to get the cost down to Rs 251 for a smartphone called Freedom 251. That’s less than the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal!

Is Freedom 251 too Good to be True?

The device is a 3G smartphone and has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor backed by 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory. It also supports external memory cards of up to 32GB.

To power Freedom 251, the company has put a 1,450mAh battery and claims to have a service network of 650 centres across India.

The deliveries will be completed by 30 June, the company said in a statement.

Sounds like an amazing achievement right?

Except, the phone already exists!

Just search for ‘Adcom Ikon 4’ on Google and see for yourself. The real Freedom 251 is selling on Flipkart at Rs 4,081.

Adcom Ikon 4 and Freedom 251 are similar phones. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Adcom Ikon 4 and Freedom 251 are similar phones. (Photo: The Quint)

And guess what? Adcom Ikon is a 4G phone, not a 3G one like the Freedom 251. The phone also copies iOS design for apps inside the interface that’s seen on Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Moreover, if you see the images of the Director of Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel with CEO, Dhaarna Goel during the launch event holding the phone, they have neatly hidden the actual branding of the original manufacturer.

Director of Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel with CEO, Dhaarna Goel during the launch event holding Freedom 251. (Photo: PTI)
Director of Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel with CEO, Dhaarna Goel during the launch event holding Freedom 251. (Photo: PTI)

The Freedom 251 is a phone that is rebranded and sold under three Indian schemes. Make in India, Digital India and Startup India.

Ringing Bells, which ‘makes’ the phones was formed only in 2015 and is based out of Noida.

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The smartphone comes with pre-installed apps like Swachh Bharat, Women Safety, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, among others. Which makes us wonder even more.

Is it a new scam in the making?

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Ring(ing)-Bells of Caution

The company claims that it has two manufacturing hubs in Noida and Uttarakhand with an investment of Rs 250-300 crore. They plan to open three more plants to produce the phone with each having a capacity of 5 lakh units a month. That’s 25 lakh Freedom 251’s in a month.

To make it a success story the company and the government will have to work in tandem. Remember all the funding announcements by PM Narendra Modi on Digital India, Startup India and Make in India?

Guess who’s going to pay the difference for making these Rs 251 smartphones?

The company also wants to capture 30 percent of the Indian smartphone market share by the end of 2016. That’s possible with the pricing but the logistics in itself is a huge challenge.

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You can book the phone online right now and the company will start shipping it on 30 June.

Think about it, you’ll be blocking your money for the next four months. Yes, Rs 251 is a small amount but given the amount of bookings it has received so far the zeros are just adding up.

It’s also not a Make in India phone, at best it’s more like a ‘rebranded-in-India’ smartphone.

I’d rather buy a Happy Meal and get a toy, than get the Freedom 251.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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