Apparently, it was no fluke, and we’re wishing something like this would come to the Philippines soon enough.
Four months after saying it would release a device that will cost only 251 rupees (about P173), Indian start-up Ringing Bells reveals it is ready to deliver the first batch of the world’s cheapest smartphone — 200,000 units of them — starting June 30.
Obviously, the Freedom 251 does not come with a spec sheet that will make you sit up and take notice. The 3G phone only has 1GB of RAM; 8GB of ROM, which you can extend using an external memory card of up to 32GB; a 1,800mAh battery; a quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz; a 4-inch 960 x 540 screen; Android Lollipop; and 8-megapixel rear and 3.2-megapixel front cameras. But hey, the device is a steal — THIS MUCH of a steal — for its price.
Ringing Bells founder and CEO Mohit Goel admits each Freedom 251 unit is being sold at a loss of 140 to 150 rupees (approximately P100). However, they are banking on volume to make up for it.
Which is likely. When the company opened registration of interest in mid-February, over 70 million people registered before its payment system crashed after three days.
Let’s say the company has worked out the kinks in the system and can accommodate those 70 million registrations. Multiply the number by 251 rupees, and you get 17.5 billion rupees in total sales. Multiply 150 rupees by 70 million this time. That’s 10.5 billion rupees in losses. That’s a potential profit of 7 billion rupees. Ringing Bells earns and still helps bridge the digital divide in India in keeping with the country’s Make in India and Digital India programs, and more Indians get access to an affordable smartphone.
If that is not a win-win situation, we don’t know what is.
My take: We had reviewed phones that went kaput on us after only a week of using them. Please, for the love of all things digital and holy, let the Freedom 251 be not one of them. Imagine what a game changer it would be if it is not a scam.
I would be happy to try it and live with the consequences.
My partner Ramon Lopez’s take: If someone came up to me with a brand-new smartphone that costs about the same as a two-piece fried chicken meal and a large cup of soda, I would be quick to dismiss the offer and call the authorities. But considering the phone comes from a supposedly well-meaning company with bigger plans, I might be willing to give it a chance. All I stand to lose is a fatty, unhealthy lunch, right?
The specs are decent, enough for all the basic functions you expect from a smartphone. Not to mention, they’re way better than those of a feature phone. It’s running the world’s most popular mobile operating system, too, meaning all the apps I use regularly are just a tap away.
TL;DR version: I would be happy to try it and live with the consequences.
Note from the publisher: This is my first post after more than a year. During my self-imposed hiatus here, I headed OPPO Philippines’ digital marketing team. It’s great to be back. Let’s revive this site, shall we? For tips, comments, and whatnots, contact me on Twitter.
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