Freedom 251 review: At Rs 251, Ringing Bells manages to surprise

Ringing Bells' Freedom 251 might come cheap at Rs 251, but the phone packs quite a few surprises.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Written by Hansa Verma | Updated: August 15, 2016 10:24 am
freedom 251, freedom, freedom 251 review, freedom 251 mobile, india, freedom 251 news, freedom 251 smartphone, freedom 251 booking, freedom 251 order online, ringing bells, ringing bells freedom 251 booking, cheapest phone, cheapest smartphone, smartphones, technology, technology news Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251 review: It looks way more expensive than the Rs 251 price tag and comes with quite a few surprises.

Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251, the world’s cheapest smartphone, was first announced in February. The company has come a long way since then, and this Rs 251 phone is just one of the devices in its portfolio which now includes a Freedom 9900 TV at Rs 9,990. Even though Ringing Bells started deliveries of Freedom 251 a while back, the smartphone is still quite difficult to get hold of. However, we have been lucky enough to get a review unit.

Freedom 251 came in a proper box with tri-colour design and Ringing Bells logo on it, which is impressive given the company had Adcom units for display at the launch event. The back of the box has specifications of Freedom 251. On paper, the smartphone features a 4-inch qHD IPS display, 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory. The internal memory is expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. It is a 3G-enabled dual-SIM smartphone that supports 2 micro SIM cards. It runs Android Lollipop 5.1 and is backed by 1,450 mAh battery. The primary camera is 3.2MP and the front camera is 0.3MP. You’ll also get a pair of cheap earphones and a charger in the box. I spent a week with the world’s cheapest smartphone and here’s what I think.

First up, Freedom 251 looks way more expensive than its price in terms of design. The smartphone has a plastic body and a removable back. We got black review unit, which looks decent. There’s round edges and a textured plastic back which provides for a good grip. The Freedom 251 logo is at the bottom of back cover, power key on the right and volume keys on left. The micro USB charging port and headphone jack is at the top.

freedom 251, freedom, freedom 251 review, freedom 251 mobile, india, freedom 251 news, freedom 251 smartphone, freedom 251 booking, freedom 251 order online, ringing bells, ringing bells freedom 251 booking, cheapest phone, cheapest smartphone, smartphones, technology, technology news Freedom 251 came in a proper box with tri-colour design and Ringing Bells logo on it, which is impressive given the company had Adcom units for display at the launch event.

I am not very fond of smartphones with smaller screen sizes. Typing on a 4-inch smartphone, using the camera and browsing on a small screen still bothers me. But considering this is a Rs 251 smartphone, I kept my prejudices aside during the review period. It took me a few days before to get used to the small screen, and I think it is quite comfortable to use.

The display looks washed out. The viewing angles are not so great. The display will neither delight you, nor disappoint you. It is next to impossible to look at the screen in bright light or click pictures outdoors. Since there’s no smartphone in the market I can compare Freedom 251 to, I’d say the display is quite decent for its price. And as a patriotic add-on, the Indian flag will greet you every time you switch on the device.

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There are quite a few things that I found weird while using Freedom 251. First up, the smartphone connects as a pen drive, where your system asks you to scan it or continue without scanning. Next, Freedom is spelt wrong everywhere in the phone. It’s FREEDDM instead of FREEDOM when you go to Settings or About phone menu. Also, the smartphone has this annoying habit of going back to Hindi as its default language every time you restart or reboot it. The micro USB charging port is on top of the smartphone, which I found a bit uncomfortable to use.

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Now, the Freedom 251 did come with quite a few apps pre-installed like Google Chrome and Play Store; but we couldn’t find those apps promised by company CEO Mohit Goel at the launch event of Freedom TV. Goel had said Ringing Bells has partnered with Hike Messenger and a few others to bring apps to the smartphone. However, it’s a good thing they didn’t. I’m saying this because the performance of Freedom 251 drastically deteriorated after I downloaded a few apps on it.

Like any user in India, WhatsApp was the first thing I downloaded on Freedom 251.The normal Facebook app obviously refused to work on the smartphone and I downloaded Facebook Lite which worked fine. Using Facebook messenger too wasn’t much of a problem. Surprisingly, I could even edit a picture on Prisma on Freedom 251. But here’s the problem – the apps made Freedom 251 annoying to the extent that I just wanted to throw it away at one point. The smartphone became extremely slow and there were visible lags in opening even the most basic apps. The phone started behaving normally as I deleted a few and kept a few. My issue here is that even if the company is providing an expandable memory, it’s not much of a use.

freedom 251, freedom, freedom 251 review, freedom 251 mobile, india, freedom 251 news, freedom 251 smartphone, freedom 251 booking, freedom 251 order online, ringing bells, ringing bells freedom 251 booking, cheapest phone, cheapest smartphone, smartphones, technology, technology news Coming to the camera, I’d give full marks to the company for doing a good job here. (Image resized for web) freedom 251, freedom, freedom 251 review, freedom 251 mobile, india, freedom 251 news, freedom 251 smartphone, freedom 251 booking, freedom 251 order online, ringing bells, ringing bells freedom 251 booking, cheapest phone, cheapest smartphone, smartphones, technology, technology news Surprisingly, I could even edit a picture on Prisma on Freedom 251.

Coming to the camera, I’d give full marks to the company for doing a good job here. Yes, you’ll have a difficult time focusing and the pictures will look grainy and a bit blurred. But remember, we’re talking about a Rs 251 smartphone and by that standards, the results are surely impressive. Very basic, but Ringing Bells at least put a camera and a flash there, which can be appreciated. The front camera is fine too.

The battery lasts for 2-3 hours on heavy usage and 4-5 hours on normal usage, which is great. In the GeekBench 3 battery test, Freedom 251 gave a battery runtime of 3 hours and 21 minutes from 100 per cent to 0 per cent. The smartphone clearly can’t be used for multi-tasking, but is meant for the most basic things like calling, messaging and browsing to read.

The speaker in Freedom 251 is pretty loud at its highest volume. The sound quality isn’t great but you can be sure of it reaching every nook and corner of a small room. Same goes for the headphones that come along with the smartphone. The call quality is decent and by decent I mean acceptable. I could make out what the other person is saying but there’s always noise. Basically, the call quality lacks clarity.

And a surprise

freedom 251, freedom, freedom 251 review, freedom 251 mobile, india, freedom 251 news, freedom 251 smartphone, freedom 251 booking, freedom 251 order online, ringing bells, ringing bells freedom 251 booking, cheapest phone, cheapest smartphone, smartphones, technology, technology news The specifications written on the Freedom 251 box are not even slightly in line with what we got from Antutu benchmark testing.

The most surprising part for me, however, was when I ran Antutu benchmark on it. Yes, I deleted all apps I had earlier downloaded to make space for Antutu. And guess what, the specifications written on the box are not even slightly in line with what we got from benchmark testing. For starters, the benchmark shows the screen’s pixel resolution to be 800x480p, whereas qHD display should ideally have a pixel resolution of 960x540p. Next up is the rear camera, which the company claims is 3.2MP but the Antutu shows it to be 1.9MP. The front camera is the same as that given on the box – 0.3MP. The processor, according to Antutu is a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6580M and internal storage stands at 4GB, which is in conflict with printed specifications.

Verdict

The question of whether to buy the smartphone or not does not arise as it isn’t available. But if you ask me, this isn’t a bad deal at Rs 251 if your needs are restricted to calling. There’s not much of a use case for Freedom 251 and this certainly won’t empower every Indian citizen as the company claims. The joy lies in holding a Rs 251 smartphone in your hands to see it actually exists. More than making calls and using the Internet occasionally, the smartphone won’t be of much use. Think of it as a disposable smartphone that one can buy in an emergency or something for the children to play with.

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First Published on: August 15, 2016 8:28 am
  1. S
    Sanjib das
    Dec 24, 2016 at 9:18 am
    Lumding
    Reply
    1. P
      Priyanka.p
      Dec 1, 2016 at 5:13 am
      Nice mobile....
      Reply
      1. V
        Venna.Chandra Shekar
        Dec 23, 2016 at 11:22 pm
        Rise college ongole lt;br/gt;VALLURU vi lt;br/gt;ongole lt;br/gt;523002
        Reply
        1. N
          Nageswara Rao Alapati
          Aug 17, 2016 at 3:01 pm
          I AM ALREDY BOOKING WHEN IS COMING PLEASE TELL ME
          Reply
          1. B
            Biswojit Pati
            Aug 18, 2016 at 11:15 am
            I am already book ring bell mobile please send me...
            Reply
            1. I
              Imtiyaz Ahmad
              Aug 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm
              Nice mobile U perfect
              Reply
              1. I
                Imtiyaz Ahmad
                Aug 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm
                SUPELA Market SUPELA BHILAI Durg chhattishgarhlt;br/gt;Pin. 490023
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jagannath sitaram
                  Sep 28, 2016 at 1:07 am
                  Good handset
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    junapudi ravi
                    Aug 17, 2016 at 1:20 pm
                    when is coming ringing bell mobile pleae tell me
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      kashan siddiqui
                      Oct 27, 2016 at 12:40 am
                      I ordered this mobile
                      Reply
                      1. K
                        kashan siddiqui
                        Oct 27, 2016 at 12:38 am
                        Nice mobile
                        Reply
                        1. K
                          kashan siddiqui
                          Oct 27, 2016 at 12:38 am
                          Ples sir ek mujhe dedo
                          Reply
                          1. K
                            kashan siddiqui
                            Oct 27, 2016 at 12:38 am
                            Sir me ye set lena chahata hu me bhot gareeb ghar se hu meri okaat mehnge mobile chalane ki nhi hai
                            Reply
                            1. L
                              Laxman Khandalkar
                              Aug 19, 2016 at 2:35 am
                              I am already book ring bell mobile please send me...
                              Reply
                              1. J
                                Jalaj Jha
                                Aug 16, 2016 at 5:11 am
                                Just Curious : If Noida based firm Ringing Bells can make and sell Smartphones for Rs.251, then why it sells basic phone for Rs.699 onwards?
                                Reply
                                1. P
                                  Pravinchandra P.Thakkar
                                  Aug 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm
                                  I ordered for freedom 251 mobile. But not received yet. Pls. Send orders
                                  Reply
                                  1. R
                                    ramu
                                    Aug 16, 2016 at 8:09 am
                                    teri maka
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      shyam
                                      Aug 21, 2016 at 9:35 am
                                      I have not got my ordered mobile freedom 251 yet
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Sonu kumar
                                        Aug 15, 2016 at 8:18 am
                                        It is very good
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Sonu kumar
                                          Aug 15, 2016 at 8:19 am
                                          Wazirpur mode
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Vinod Saini
                                            Aug 15, 2016 at 5:33 pm
                                            Job mane joyti Che
                                            Reply
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