A little-known company in India is making waves after announcing that it will sell an Android 5.1 Lollipop smartphone for less than $4 (or, more precisely, 251 rupees). The Freedom 251, from Ringing Bells, sounds almost too good to be true. Is that because it is?
A presale for the Freedom 251 starts tomorrow, February 18th, at 6 a.m., and closes on February 21st at 8 p.m. (no clarification of which time zone this pertains to is given, but it's most likely IST (Indian Standard Time)).
The whole thing sounds super fishy, especially when you take into account that Ringing Bells marketed a 4G smartphone earlier in the year for $44, but haven't seemed to deliver any of those handsets yet. Factor in that Ringing Bells has only existed as a company for a scant five months, and it sounds even dicier.
Furthermore, a trial model of the handset given to the Hindustan Times turned out to be an ADCOM handset, with the ADCOM logo obscured by whiteout. When asked by the Hindustan Times, ADCOM replied that it has "no idea that our branding is being used on the Freedom 251." That's real reassuring.
The preview version of the Freedom 251 also contained app icons that were pretty much exact copies of iPhone icons. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's also a good way to get your ass sued. Then again, Apple hasn't had much luck going after imitators in China, so their hands may be tied as long as this device retails only in India.
As if that wasn't enough, the handset is being launched at a high-profile ceremony expected to be attended by several top Indian government officials—including defense minister Manohar Parrikar—as part of the "Make in India" program designed to spur production in the country. But it sounds like Ringing Bells is just cobbling the Freedom 251 together from preexisting parts, and... I just don't even know anymore. This whole thing sounds insane.
If you want to take a chance with the phone, at least it's only $4 (actually, $3.67 at current exchange rates), and there's also probably going to be shipping costs involved, assuming this thing ever ships. Those shipping costs are likely to be much more than the phone itself.
The handset has pretty good specs for such a low price. The Freedom 251 is advertised as having a 4-inch display with a resolution of 960x540 pixels. It has a 3.2 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 0.3 megapixel selfie cam. The device has 1 GB RAM running on an "unknown" 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 8 GB internal storage, and a microSD slot to add more.
So, is the Freedom 251 worth your hard-earned four bucks? I certainly wouldn't bother with the presale. If Ringing Bells actually makes good on Freedom 251 deliveries, this could serve as a good backup, or you could take it on vacation.
But as your primary phone? As ridiculous as this might sound, you might want to save the $4 and put it toward something a little more reliable, like your morning coffee.