$4 smartphone Freedom 251 receives 50 million registrations, to ship 2.5 million units

by: John DyeFebruary 20, 2016
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Photo by Gadgets 360

Photo by Gadgets 360

Although we’re still scratching our heads over the puzzling contradictions of Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251, the Indian company reports that they have received almost 50 million registrations since pre-ordering went live earlier this week. Ringing Bells wasn’t quite ready for such a large demand, but they will be shipping the 2.5 million devices they have at the ready on a first come, first serve basis. The company hopes to start this batch of deliveries by April 10th at the latest, and the run should be completed by the end of June.

Freedom-251-Front-newSee also: The $4 smartphone Freedom 251 will run Lollipop (update)44

The Freedom 251 rocked the internet when it was first unveiled, with the site having to shut down due to overwhelming traffic. The smartphone that cost less than a cup of Starbucks coffee made headlines all across the tech world, and reporters rushed to get their hands on the surprisingly well-specced device as soon as possible. Which is when things got a little… weird.

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Early receivers of the “preview version” of the device were puzzled to find a glop of Wite-Out smeared across the front of their new hyper-inexpensive smartphone. Scraping the Wite-Out away revealed that the device was actually the Adcom Ikon 4 in a (very poor) disguise. Adcom has reported that they were unaware that their branding or products were being used this way and that they are looking into the matter. Since the Adcom Ikon 4 is a $54 device, speculation abounds as to how Ringing Bells is making any money off this rodeo. Some have suggested that the device may come loaded with spyware that could be useful for data harvesting.

Photo by Gadgets 360See also: That $4 smartphone is sketchy as hell214

While it’s difficult to be disappointed by something you only threw $4 at, reviewers were also let down to discover that the Freedom 251 looked nothing like what Ringing Bells had advertised on their website. Images on the page have since been altered to more accurately depict the device’s appearance.

Photo by Vishal Mathur

Photo by Vishal Mathur

Perhaps most mysterious of all is the fact that many of the device’s icons have been robbed wholesale from the iPhone. The stock browser, for instance, is represented on the home screen by the Safari icon. Why the company would risk possible copyright infringement accusations for the sake of homescreen icons is anyone’s guess.

Ringing Bells says that the devices seen by reviewers were just “preview versions” of the device, and that the real Freedom 251 won’t be quite so mysterious. Adding to the controversy, the Indian Cellular Association is appealing the telecom ministry and insisting that the government investigate Ringing Bells. They claim that selling a smartphone this cheap simply isn’t possible.

What are your thoughts on the puzzling Freedom 251? Some kind of bizarre scam, or the perfect solution for low-income, entry-level smartphone users? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Moto G4 Plus -9Next: Best cheap Android phones (January 2016)409
  • Fabian Taveras

    Smh. Don’t even know where to begin. This company is already dead.

  • Justin Ko

    Not worth the risk

  • TechnoVore

    Congratulations Ringing Bells , you just played yourself.

  • charlie Jason

    Probably cheaper than the speakers on my 6P.

  • charlie Jason

    By the way, there are so many ads causing so much lag on AA that this site should be used as the premie benchmark software for every phone reviewer from now on.
    Screw Antutu or 3DMark.

    • Ivelin Ognyanov

      Thanks God for adaway/adblock. :D

    • sahand

      :D adblock rocks

      • Loop Sandoval

        Lol, your profile pic is perfect for your comment!

      • flye

        Ublock origin rock harder.

        • TheDude

          Adguard

    • John

      In deed, jesus Christ, even my Nexus 6 and current 6P lag on this site in every browser.

  • Goldfish

    I’m selling some beach front property in Arizona for $3. People will believe anything, it a sucker born every minute.

    • saksham

      apparently the phone is distributed by the government and one could sue the company if all this was fake

      • Didn’t the government deny any involvement?

        • saksham

          why would it contain govt related bloatware apps then ?

          • Because that is probably a lie and the whole thing seems to be a scam? Or I guess they could just put in government APKs in their ROM.

          • saksham

            nah the governments name is BJP its the ruling party of india i saw an image posted on fb in which there is the logo of their party beside the ad of the phone

          • Paddy

            Not true. The govt has not approved or is directly associated with this in any way.

  • Hans Pedersen

    1. Take $10 millions worth of pre-orders for an offer too good to be true
    2. Spend a million of that on bribing some official to get away with it
    3. ???
    4. PROFIT!!!

    • It was all about counting the number of fools that are on the internet.

  • Don’t tell me that its all hype was to actually count the number of fools that are on INTERNET. Pre-Order? I just took a look of the source-code of their web-page and honestly looks like a kid has written the code of the site. Its a scam just like “Shardha”. Any Indian will know what “Shardha” was.

    • saksham

      idk what shardha is .. enlighten me

  • SaRPeR

    It isn’t possible to build a smartphone below $4. Even the screen costs more than $4.

    • Android Developer

      Isn’t the screen one of the most expensive parts?

      • Guest123

        Probably using one of those glass screen protector as the screen, which probably already cost 50c. More interested is what kinda SoC or battery they are using.

  • TheDude

    If they got 50 million orders…. that’s 200 million usd in their pocket.

    Now all they have to do is escape somewhere and live their lives covered in gold.

  • couldnthinkaone

    Man, if this is a scam(and it probably is), some Nigerian is going to be living life “high on the hog”, or water buffalo, as the case may be…

  • jordyecruzp

    You get what you pay for lol