Indian smartphone manufacturer Ringing Bells is set to unveil the world’s cheapest smartphone, Freedom 251. It’s name reflects the fact that it will cost consumers just 251 Indian Rupees or $3.67 using current currency calculations.
A $4 smartphone can’t offer much can it?
With the unveiling today, the Freedom 251 will hit the markets tomorrow and offer the world’s second most populous country access to the Internet at a ridiculous price.
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Open the box, and owners will be treated to a phone running the Android Lollipop 5.1 operating system and will be powered by a 1.3 Ghz quad-core processor. The phone will feature a 3.,2 megapixel camera, a one-year warranty and full access to the Google Store to download apps until you’ve filled the 8GB of storage the phone “boasts.” Lollipop itself needs about 5GB of this space. For a $4 smartphone, it comes as a bit of a shock that is has support for a microSD card to expand the memory by up to 32GB.
The phone will offer 3G service from a dual-SIM setup and feature a 4-inch 960×540 pixel display. In addition to the rear camera, the phone will have a 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera and the whole thing will rely on a 1,450mAh battery
Subsidies make it possible
I can’t be alone in thinking that that is quite a bit on offer for under $4. It’s believed that in order to sell the phone at this price that it must be heavily subsidized by the Indian government with reports linking it to the Modi government’s “Make in India” program. This speculation comes from the fact that the phone is being sold with two preinstalled apps that are also projects of the Modi administration.
“What we know as of now is that the phone is being heavily subsidised,” Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, a consultancy firm, told Quartz recently. “As of now, the cheapest smartphone in India costs $28 and looking at the component prices, this phone certainly is being subsidised by the Narendra Modi government.”
Freedom 251 will “empower citizens, even in the remotest rural and semi-urban centres of India, with the latest in digital technology at incredible affordable prices and cascade knowledge, news and current issues so that all experience the confidence of inclusive growth and equal opportunity,” Ringing Bells says on its website.