The world’s cheapest smartphone, costing all of Rs 251 ($5), was launched in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The Ringing Bells Freedom 251, a 3G smartphone with specifications similar to entry level smartphones priced around Rs 4,000, was launched by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar, who the company had said would launch the phone, could not make it due to a “cabinet meeting,” according to the event’s organisers.
While bookings for the phone will start tomorrow and go on till February 22, the Noida-based company expects says it will finish all deliveries by 30th June.
Ringing Bells is selling Freedom 251 via a special website called http://www.freedom251.com and says all deliveries will take 4 months to complete. Ringing Bells is charging Rs 40 extra for deliveries, so the total cost of the smartphone is Rs 291.
The smartphone with a 4-inch WVGA resolution display, features a 1.3 Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB total storage space and a 3.2 megapixel camera on the back. It will have 0.3 megapixel camera on the front and has a 1450 mAh battery.
Bookings for the Freedom 251 will start from Thursday 18 February from 6.00 am in the morning and will close on 21 February at 8.00 pm. This is dual-SIM 3G capable phone. Customers have however reported that the website kept crashing, and they were unable to complete payment for the Freedom 251 smartphone.
Asked to explain the pricing, company President of Ringing Bells Ashok Chadha said they were not subsidised by the government, and would benefit from economies of scale. “By going for Made in India components, we can save on the 13.8 per cent, also we will be selling online first and thus save the costs incurred on large distribution networks,” said Chadha.
Ringing Bells’ President says that they want to capture nearly 30 per cent of the smartphone market by the end of the year. The company has set up two pilot plants in Noida and Uttarakhand and claims to have a capacity of 5 lakh phones on these lines. Ringing Bells says that they are looking at an investment of Rs 230-250 crores on these plants.
Sunit Singh Tuli, the CEO of Datawind which produces the $35 Akash tablet for the government a few years back, told indianexpress.com that a 3G device with the specs offered has a base manufacturing cost almost 8X higher than what’s being offered.
“So, we’re interested in learning of how they’ve achieved this, including all the licensing fees etc. We hope this is not a small marketing promotion, and is broadly available to the 100 crore Indians that need such affordable technology,” he said. Tuli added that if they can deliver on quality the phone will become a serious challenge to the entire smartphone industry.
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