Back in February, Indian smartphone maker Ringing Bells nearly broke the internet when they opened up pre-orders for their $3.64 Lollipop-running handset. However, it turned out that these devices, called the Freedom 251, were actually not-so-cleverly disguised Adcom Ikon 4 smartphones with honest-to-God Wite-Out covering up the branding. This raised some pretty interesting questions, considering the Ikon 4 is a Chinese device with a $54 price tag. Now Ringing Bells is under official police investigation.
The alleged offenses the company is being investigated for fall under Section 420 of IPC and the IT Act, which is to say, cheating. Competitors attest that it’s impossible to manufacture a smartphone at the ridiculously low price the Freedom 251 is selling for. Although Adcom doesn’t appear to have made any legal moves in the matter yet, the Chinese smartphone maker reported that they were unaware that their brand and products were being used in this way and that they were looking into the matter.
Named in the First Information Report filed by police are Ringing Bells owner Mohit Goel and company president Ashok Chadda. Police have asked the company to submit documents that demonstrate how their devices can be sold at such low prices without violating the law. Ringing Bells says they are ready to cooperate with police and are taking the stance that they have nothing to hide.
“I do maintain that we will deliver the most-affordable quality products to our customers through our various range of smartphones, including the Freedom 251,” said Goel in a statement. He then went on to explain (in a very unexplaining way) that the Freedom 251 can be priced under $4 due to “innovative e-commerce cross promotions.” He also reassured those who pre-ordered the device that deliveries will be completed as promised by June 30, 2016.
What do you think of the Freedom 251 and its brief but already-checkered history? What’s the real story behind this device? Let us know your best theory in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned to Android Authority for all the latest mobile reporting.