freedom-251-controveryYesterday we reported on the launch of the Freedom 251 smartphone in India, a phone that did not blow us away with its specs, but rather its price in which its company, Ringing Bells, was selling the phone at a mere $4. Now the question is, how on earth could they get the phone so cheap?

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Turns out that even ahead of the phone’s launch, it has run into a fair bit of controversy and has raised some suspicions. For starters, India’s mobile industry body Indian Cellular Association wrote to the government’s telecom minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, to ask as to how the company is able to price it so low, when they have estimated that even after subsidies, the phone should not be able to dip below $51.

According to the letter, “For your kind information, the bill of material value for a product like this when sourced from the cheapest supply chain cost approximately Rs 2,700 ($40). And this, when translated into retail price after addition of applicable duties, taxes and with distribution and retail margins would be at least Rs 4,100 ($60) while the product is being sold at Rs 251.”

It has also been pointed out that there are no obvious carrier subsidies and that India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar was supposed to be present at launch, but was mysteriously absent. Price concerns aside, there are other issues that has led to many a raised eyebrow. For example in the photo above, it clearly shows the phone sporting icons ripped directly from iOS.

Secondly, it has also been pointed out that the device that was being demoed appeared to be a Chinese-branded smartphone with its name covered in white out. Now it is unclear if this phone is the result of a poor launch, or if there could be something more nefarious, but either way we have to admit, at $4 we are a bit skeptical – wouldn’t you be?

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