India's $4 smartphone will start shipping later this week
Earlier this year, India’s Ringing Bells caused quite a stir when it announced that it would be coming out with a smartphone for the equivalent of $4 (₹251). After allegations of fraud, which led to an investigation by the government, the company is finally ready to ship the handset. Ringing Bells founder and CEO Mohit Goel has announced that over 200,000 units of the Freedom 251 will start going out to pre-ordered customers from June 30.
In an interview with Indian Express, the executive said:
We are ready with nearly two lakh ‘Freedom 251’ handsets. We will start delivery from June 30.
The 200,000 units will be the first batch of units, with more along the way. Before its website crashed, the company took in a staggering 70 million registrations:
We learned from our mistakes and decided to go silent till we come out with the product. Now we have a 4-inch, dual-SIM phone ready for delivery. I feel vindicated.
The phone itself offers a 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, 1.3GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, microSD slot, 3.2MP camera, 0.3MP front shooter, 3G, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 1450mAh battery, along with Android 5.1 Lollipop.
While India counts several great budget phones, making a handset for $4 is extremely challenging. Goel said that the company will initially make a loss of ₹150 ($2.20) on each unit, but with enough demand, it is looking to become profitable in the future:
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’.
Our devices are completely ‘Make in India’ and were manufactured at our Haridwar-based manufacturing unit. We plan to sell two lakh devices every month.