Monday, 26 Jun 2017   Bangla Version

Hands on with India's £3 smartphone

By News Desk

Published : 2016-07-19 00:22:15

 220

SYLHET, TUESDAY, 19 JULY, 2016:: Getting your hands on the world's "cheapest smartphone" is not easy.

Freedom 251 is an Android phone advertised by the Indian company Ringing Bells at 251 rupees (£2.77).

In the hand, it feels somewhat like Apple's iPhone 5.

And, surprisingly for its price, its specifications are quite impressive:

    camera on both front and back
    4in (10.2cm) wide
    1GB Ram
    8GB internal storage, expandable to 32GB
    quad-core processor providing more processing power when necessary but making less use of its battery at other times

There are two models, one black, one white.As I handle the handset, it seems to work like a basic smartphone.

But it is hard to really test its capabilities, as it has very few applications, covering only basic tasks, such as:

    calculator
    music player
    web browser
    email

At the demo, the company told me the final model would be made available for scrutiny only after 30 June. Later, on Tuesday afternoon, it said that date had been delayed until 7 July.

Some people are worried.

Questions are being asked about whether the company will be able to deliver the millions of handsets it says it can.

One member of the Indian parliament, Kirit Somaiya, has even suggested a "huge scam" is being perpetrated, while the head of the Indian Cellular Association has said the sale seemed to be "a joke or a scam".

Mohit Goel, the founder and chief executive of Ringing Bells, denies the allegations of fraud.His family has been in the dry fruits business for decades, and he says it was a desire to be part of the digital India dream that drove him to the idea of a cheap handset.

There is no denying the demand for such a product.

India is the world's second-largest mobile phone market, with one billion subscribers - many have joined those ranks thanks to other low-cost - but not this low - smartphones.

But is the Freedom 251 too good to be true?

I first managed to get my hands on one of the handsets when the company first launched the product, in February this year.

More than 70 million people had registered online, and the company's website had crashed.

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