New Delhi, Feb 19: World's cheapest "Made In India" smartphone-- "Freedom 251", priced at Rs 251 only, developed by a Noida-based start up-- Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd, took the world by surprise, on Wednesday, Feb 17.
The pre-order bookings for the cheapest smartphones began from 6 am on February 18 till 8 pm on February 21, leading to crashing of website within hours! The company is also charging a shipping charge of Rs 40 and claims that the smartphone will be delivered by June 30 from the date of booking.
But there's a catch! The company has already mired into controversy like copyright infringements for the alleged copying of Apple iPhone icon design and appearance.
What BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has to say on Freedom 251 credentials?
The Telecom Ministry is believed to have sought clarification from Ringing Bells for marketing its 'Freedom251' mobile phone without BIS certification and have asked UP government to check its credentials, as per BJP MP Kirit Somaiya.
"#Freedom251 Telecom Ministry called clarification for marketing without BIS certifications & also asked UP Govt to check Bonafide of Company," Somaiya tweeted.
The BJP MP has approached telecom ministry, telecom regulator Trai, Consumer Ministry, SEBI, Corporate Ministry Finance Ministry, RBI and state governments to check various concerns that he has on company offering mobile phone for Rs 251-- which is the world's cheapest.
"#FREEDOM 251 mobile set @ 251 #TRAI Chairman & Telecom Ministry assured me appropriate step Buyer must check twice," said in another tweet.
No comments were received from the Telecom Ministry on query related to Somaiya's Tweet.
Somaiya as well as industry has not found the proposition convincing.
"From the response I read of Shri Ashok Chadha of Ringing Bells that how much cost will be saved due to import/local assembling/ online marketing... far from convincing," Somaiya said in a letter attached to his tweet.
ICA raises red flag on Freedom 251
Mobile phone industry body Indian Cellular Association (ICA) too has raised red flag on offering of the company.
"We have checked with all operators in the industry and no one has admitted to have been in any kind of bundling deal or partnership with them. I will only say consumer should stay cautious. More than consumers, it may hurt businessmen in small towns if the promise made by the company fails," ICA National President Pankaj Mohindroo said.
Ringing Bells clarification
Meanwhile, Ringing Bells' President Ashok Chaddha said manufacturing cost of the phone is about Rs 2,500, which will be recovered through a series of measures like economies of scale, innovative marketing, reduction in duties and creating an e-commerce marketplace.
"By going for Made in India components, we can save on the 13.8 per cent duty. Also, we will be selling online first and thus save the costs incurred on large distribution network," he said.
Chaddha also rejected speculations of the handset being subsidised by the government.
"The phone will be manufactured in Noida and Uttaranchal. Two plants will be set up for Rs 250 crore each with a capacity of 5 lakh phones. The money will come in the form of debt and equity (1.5:1)," he said.
Chaddha added the equity is being met by the promoter family of the company that is "engaged in agri-commodities business" in Uttar Pradesh but declined to give further information.
Some of the prominent features of Freedom 251 are:
- Android 5.1 operating system
- 4-inch qHD IPS display
- 3.2-megapixel primary
- 0.3-megapixel front camera
- 3G connectivity
- 1.3GHz quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal memory
- Supports external memory cards of up to 32GB.
- 1,450mAh battery
- Service network of 650 centres across India.
- Pre-installed apps like Swachh Bharat, Women Safety, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc
BJP's veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi unveiled the smartphone at Delhi's Nehru Park. "Freedom 251" smartphone has been developed "with immense support" from the government, the company has said.
India's most affordable smartphone is said to be very helpful to farmers, fishermen and and women from rural areas who can use this technology to empower their lives.
(With agency inputs)