freedom 251 smartphone

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As far as the Freedom 251 smartphone , aka the world’s cheapest android smartphone, goes, this question had to be asked: was the whole thing a cheap and uncomplicated scam? Scam is a word not thrown lightly here. And my prayer is, let it be true. But a smartphone costing less than $5 must have an angle the world is yet to figure out.

freedom 251 smartphone

The freedom 251 smartphone was launched with specs that were jaw dropping because of the price. Its features include a 4 inch IPS display, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of internal storage, 1GB RAM and microSD card slot that can handle an extra 64 GB of storage. All to cost less than what it would take to buy a good pair of jeans. None of the phones in our series on  smartphones under $100 comes remotely close to this.

But even before a single freedom 251 smartphone has being shipped, the promoters of the phone, Ringing Bells are making tons of money from the publicity generated by the phone. When the phone was launched last month, the website crashed after traffic to the site went haywire. This traffic to the website continued for several more days after. And that is where Ringing Bells started cashing in. This sort of traffic is an advertiser’s dream. Many companies started paying good money to advertise their products there. Even if the money from adverts is not that much, it is still size-able considering that nothing is being sold yet. Just a promise of a cheap smartphone come June this year.

freedom 251 smartphone
Freedom 251 website showing ads, March 7th

And based on that promised, thousands have being booking for the phone. Initially, Ringing Bells collected money from people who booked. But the smartphone vendor reversed the decision to make it cash on delivery. They promised to refund all those who sent money for a pre-order. The statement on their website reads:

Dear customer,

In furthering our services to you, we, at Ringing Bells have decided to offer ‘Cash on Delivery’ terms vs the previous offer of via ‘Payment Gateway”!!

By this, you, our esteemed customer, will be required to make payment only when the phone is delivered to your.

We ate in the process of compiling the emails and issuing these to the first Lacs registrations very soon.

We express our sincere gratitude for your kind supporting look forward to your continued patronage.
Assuring you of our best intentions.

Freedom 251 Team.”

Is this one way Ringing Bells is trying to limit damages in case it can’t deliver the phone at that price? Only time would tell. All we know now is the fact that knowledgeable people in the smartphone business claim it is impossible to sell the Freedom 251 at that price, because the cost of the cheapest materials needed to make the phone are even more than $4.

freedom 251 smartphone
Freedom 251 website today; without ads

Aside the economics, there is the issue of the the design. Apart from the advertised phone looking like a badly cloned iPhone 4, people who already got the phone saw a really  poor attempt to re-brand the Adcom Ikon 4, a cheap Chinese smartphone that retails at between $50 and $60. This leads back to the economics of the freedom 251. If Adcom’s Ikon 4 sells at lets say, $55, how can Ringing Bells break even by selling the same phone at just $4? Is somebody heavily subsidizing the phone? If not, I don’t see how the company can survive with that kind of outlay.

For now, the waiting game continues. Only time would unravel if the whole thing was a publicity stunt used to separate advertisers from their money; or if there really is a 4 inch, Lollipop Android smartphone called freedom 251.

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