Is India’s new $4 smartphone a scam?

Is India’s new $4 smartphone a scam?

Freedom 251 photo by Firstpost / Freedom 251 release photo by AP

As recently as last week, it was announced that a company in India was selling a smartphone at the unbelievable price of $4. Does this sound too good to be true? That’s because it probably is.

The phone is called the Freedom 251 and it is a 3G Android with a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1,450 mAh battery, 4-inch 960 x 540 qHD display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 3.2-megapixel camera. Admittedly these are not astounding specs, they are considering the price of the device: 251 rupees, or US$3.67.

But after selling around 30,000 units, the company that produced the device is being accused of fraud by congressman Pramod Tiwari. And he is not the only one who seems to think this way – another MP, Kirit Somaiya, called the entire thing a Ponzi scam and even asked for the government to investigate the matter further. Even Pankaj Mohindroo, founder and president of the Indian Cellular Association, believes that even if the company where to use the cheapest materials available, a phone like the Freedom 251 would still cost at least $40.

The device has been surrounded by controversy from the start, when the prototype they showed at the launch event turned out to be another company’s phone, a Chinese phone called the Adcom Ikon 4. And this phone did not even look like the photos available on the website, with the company later claiming that this was just to give people an idea of what the actual phone would look like, and that the devices had Adcom branding because they were the ones who provided the screen. Moreover, the company does not even have a factory yet, although they promised to ship the phone by June. Put the government raid on top of that and it seems like this is starting to look like a scam by the minute.

As of recent, the manufacturer, Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd., announced that is is not taking any new orders for this particular device.