Unless you have not been following the news, you know that Freedom 251 is a smartphone that is being sold for an earth shattering Rs. 251 by a little-known company called ‘Ringing Bells’. Despite all the hype, it is not yet clear if the company will be able to deliver what it is claiming to provide. Bookings for the phone have started and the onslaught of traffic has crippled the website.
As with every new offering, there are doubts if the company is genuine or not. What if the company fails to deliver the phones after taking the payment? However, there are two reasons why this is not likely a scam.
Firstly, reputable political leaders have launched this product. Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi launched the phone in New Delhi. Defense Minister of India Manohar Parrikar was also expected to attend the launch function. However he was not able to attend it. It is in the interest of the company to live up to its promises.
Secondly, the owners of the company are listed and readily accessible. All the founders of the company have come out in the open in the advertisements posted in the newspapers.
However, there are many more reasons why the whole thing looks suspicious.
The sample phone sent to Hindustan Times turned out to be a shabby rebranded phone from a company called Adcom with the logo masked using whitener. Adcom is a Delhi based company which imports Chinese electronics. Strangely, when the newspaper contacted the marketing manager of Adcom, he denied that their brand is being used on Freedom 251. The original phone was launched two years back. There is a possibility that Ringing Bells is now selling old stocks.
Ringing Bells has announced that the phone will carry apps such as Swatch Bharat, Women Safety App, etc. However, the phone sent for review did not carry any of these apps. In fact the phone received by Hindustan Times didn’t look anything like the pictures shown in the advertisements.
The icons of the phone look exactly like those of the iPhone. Since most of Apple’s stuff is protected by patents and copyright, there may also be intellectual property issues with the phone. When the company was contacted about this, the newspaper did not receive any response.
The most suspicious thing about the phone is its pricing. It is not understood how the company can sell smart phones for this price and still stay profitable. Further, it is also not known if the government is subsidizing the phone. Even individual components of the phone cannot be manufactured for this price.
It is also not clear how the phone complies with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. No information has been provided about the location of the factory where the phone is been manufactured or assembled.
Whether or not the phone and the company are genuine – this only time will tell. We will have to wait until June 30 when the the first batch of the phones.