Meet the $4 smartphone which starts shipping next week

The first batch of the Ringing Bells Freedom 251 smartphone is ready to go.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Ringing Bells

Indian company Ringing Bells is gearing up to dispatch the first round of customer handsets, costing less than $4 a pop.

As reported by local publication Indian Express, the Freedom 251 handset will go on sale from 6 July, and the first batch of 200,000 handsets will be delivered to those who previously registered for one of the smartphones, which are being sold for 251 rupees each.

As previously reported by ZDNet, Ringing Bells originally issued a prototype which was actually a Chinese smartphone, with the Adcom brand name covered in white paint -- as well as apps which looked suspiciously like an iPhone's.

After an outcry and demands for refunds, the firm went quiet until a new model was debuted. The new Freedom 251 is reportedly made from cheap Taiwanese parts and sports a 4-inch 960x540 pixel qHD IPS display, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 8 GB storage, 3.2 MP rear camera and runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop.

The mobile device comes pre-loaded with basic Google apps.

See also: What's inside a $4 smartphone?

The specifications are average at best, but at this price bracket, you cannot complain -- especially as each handset is produced at a loss of approximately $2.20.

"We will have a loss, but I am happy that the dream of connecting rural and poor Indians as part of the 'Digital India' and 'Make in India' initiatives has been fulfilled with 'Freedom 251'," Goel said.

Samsung is one of the dominant players in the Indian smartphone market, commanding a share of 26.8 percent -- but as mobile device penetration is estimated to be only 30 percent, there is huge growth potential.

However, according to Trading Economics, the average daily wage in India is 272.19 rupees ($4) -- and so any company which is truly going to rule the market must provide cheap handsets that the average member of the public can afford.

Goel hopes to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask the government to subsidise each phone as part of the Make in India initiative, a scheme launched by the government to entice businesses to bring their manufacturing needs to India.

If the loss incurred by producing these handsets is set aside, the Ringing Bells founder says that manufacturing the parts, as well as assembly, can be shifted to India.

No company can last long running on a loss, but Ringing Bells plans to stay in the black by offering an affordable 32-inch LED television set and other handsets with better specifications -- produced at a profit -- down the line.

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