Ringing Bells Freedom 251 has caused a mania of sorts in India; after all this is a smartphone that costs Rs 251, when the average cost for a smartphone is close to Rs 4000, well for the kind of specs that Freedom 251 is offering.
But the buzz has also raised questions; questions that this is a deal too good to be true and the phone doesn’t really exist. After all, the so called ‘review units’ sent out by Ringing Bells appear to have the markings of Adcom on it, which has been erased by a whitener. Ringing Bells in its defence says, this is a prototype unit and the final smartphone will be different, but that hasn’t quelled doubts.
Here is where things currently stand in this Ringing Bells Freedom 251 madness.
1) The company has stopped taking bookings. Ringing Bells claims to have gotten over 6 lakh hits per minute, and over 6 crore orders and says that it won’t be taking any more bookings in this so-called phase 1 of the launch. It is also promising all deliveries will be done by April, although some users claim they have gotten no proof that their order has been confirmed.
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2) Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked Department of Electronics and IT Secretary (Deity) Aruna Sharma to look into the scheme of Ringing Bells offering a smartphone for just Rs 251.
“The minister has received a representation from Kirit Somaiya and mobile phone manufacturers where they have expressed doubt about the veracity of this venture,” a Telecom Ministry source told PTI. He added that the minister has asked the Deity secretary to go into the whole issue and if need be, cooperation will be sought from states to find out more about the company. Read more here.
3) Protests outside the Ringing Bells office in Noida. Reports say that frustrated customers have turned up outside the office of Ringing Bells and have been demanding that the company hand over the smartphone right now. Times of India has more on that here.
4) The mobile phone industry body ICA too has raised some red flags over Freedom 251. “We have checked with all operators in the industry, and no one has admitted to having been in any kind of bundling deal or partnership with them. I will only say consumers should stay cautious. More than consumers, it may hurt businessmen in small towns if the promise made by the company fails,” ICA National President Pankaj Mohindroo said.
5) With questions being raised over the promised price of Rs 251 for a 3G smartphone by new entrant Ringing Bells, the Telecom Ministry has found that a device with such specifications would cost about Rs 2,300. “The Ministry has analysed the issue and it feels that such a device can be manufactured for about Rs 2,300,” sources told PTI. However, they refused to say if any action will be taken against the company in the matter.
With several questions being raised about the authenticity of the company, and more so about how it has gone for this pricing, we’ll have to wait and see how this saga around Freedom 251 plays out. For now, the ministry appears to be looking into the matter, although that doesn’t mean some action will be taken.
As for those who’ve managed to place orders for delivery, the company says it will only take payments from the Payment gateway after it submits proof of delivery.