The good news is that the phone is reportedly a lot better than you’d expect a device that costs just 251 rupees (or about $4) to be.
The less good news is that the phone actually costs more than 251 rupees to make: Ringing Bells is losing Rs 150 ($2.22) per phone, and the company is hoping it can get a government subsidy to make up the difference.
A subsidy isn’t guaranteed though, so right now the company is losing money on every phone it sells. That might help explain why only 5,000 units are expected to be delivered on July 8th, despite reports that millions of people had registered for information about the phone and tens of thousands of people had placed orders.
If you’ve done the math you might think that this $4 phone actually costs around $6 to produce… but it actually costs about three times as much. It’s just that Ringing Bells says part of the phone’s price is subsidized by advertisements and revenue from app developers. With an actual cost of closer to Rs 1180 ($17.50) the phone is still pretty cheap… but part of the reason it’s so cheap is that it’s loaded with bloatware.
The phone features a 4 inch, 960 x 540 pixel IPS display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and an SD card slot.
It has a 1,450 mAh battery, dual SIM card slots with support for 2G and 3G networks, a 3.2MP rear camera and a 0.3MP front camera. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop.
It’s not a great phone, and it’s unclear if Ringing Bells will ever be able to turn a profit on a phone this cheap. But at least it’s real, and that’s something we weren’t particularly sure of before: when Ringing Bells first announced the Freedom 251, they simply slapped their name on an existing phone from a different manufacturer.