The $4 Freedom 251 is the most talked about smartphone in India right now, but we’re not sure if ‘Cutemohit’ is still pleased about this. Since the recent unveiling of this Rs 251 mobile phone by Ringing Bells, reports about the dubious claims made by the company’s owner Mohit Goel, have been emerging.
The unbelievably low price of the Freedom 251 mobile phone was initially thought to be a result of subsidies from the Indian government. But BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, has stated on Facebook that Ringing Bells is a bogus company which was only formed on 16 September 2015. Its product is not subsidized, registered or ratified by any government body.
In the interest of citizens who might be taken in by the scam, the politician has asked TRAI (India’s telecom regulatory authority) chairman RS Sharma and DoT to investigate the matter. Of course, there’s no need to look far to tell Freedom 251 is a scam or not. You can start with Goel’s emetic Facebook profile.
As for Ringing Bells, it describes itself as one among the ‘fastest growing smartphone company in India,’ despite the fact no one had heard of the brand until news of the Freedom 251 scam broke the internet. It’s supposed to be an Android phone with a 4-inch IPS display, 1GB RAM, up to 40GB memory and a quad core processor to boot.
Customers can book the Freedom 251 phone right away for Rs 291, Rs 40 going towards shipping charges. The pre-booking page is slow to load and requires multiple refreshes to get going. Deliveries will apparently be fulfilled by June. Goel insists that the ultra-low price of the Freedom 251 is tied to economies of scale. But this sort of competitive advantage can hardly be reaped by a small new mobile brand.
Meanwhile, a few Freedom 251 reviews have revealed all you need to know about the so-called Freedom 251 scam. Livemint who got their hands on a Freedom 251 unit shared shocking photos of the smartphone. The smartphone is said to have arrived in some basic packaging with a pair of headphones and a charger. The area above the handset’s screen had the Adcom logo hidden under whitener or white paint.
The back panel has India’s national flag on it. The tricolor allegedly started showing some wear and tear before it could even be tested. The first Freedom 251 review unit received by Livemint failed to get switched on. Ringing Bells’ shady product appears to be nothing but the re-branded Chinese Adcom Ikon 4 which itself costs at least Rs 2,500. So what’s happening here? Are scrapped models of the Ikon 4 phone being sold as the Freedom 251? In spite of this, people still seem to be keen on booking it.
Ringing Bells stands to earn a cartload of cash thanks to the widespread consumer interest in it. And Rs 251 may be a small enough sum for would-be buyers to let go of instead of pursuing in court, should the company fail to deliver. Adding to the brand’s untrustworthy image is a report by India Today who attempted to visit its Noida office, but was turned away by a security guard who couldn’t tell them how many people worked there.
There’s little evidence to prove that the Freedom 251 is backed by PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India or Digital India initiatives, even though Defense Minister Manohar Parrikkar attended its launch. You’d think Goel would pack it up by now, considering the publicity his company has garnered. But TOI says there are plans to launch a SIM card called Bells too. We’re tracking this story as it unfolds. So stay tuned for more.