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Freedom 251

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Freedom 251
BrandRinging Bells
ManufacturerRinging Bells Private Limited
SeriesFreedom series
Compatible networks2.5G, 3G, HSUPA
First releasedFebruary 18, 2016; 3 years ago (2016-02-18)
Availability by regionIndia
Form factorSlate
Mass130 g
Operating systemAndroid 5.1 Lollipop
CPU1.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor
MemoryGB RAM
Removable storageUp to 32 GB MicroSD
Battery1450 mAh Lithium-ion battery
Data inputsTouchscreen, Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
Display102 mm (4.0 in) qHD IPS Display (960x540 pixels)
Rear camera3.2 megapixel
Front camera0.3 megapixel
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, DLNA, UMA
OtherWi-Fi Hot Spot, FM radio
WebsiteRinging Bells (defunct)

The Freedom 251 is a smartphone that was initially offered for sale in India at the promotional price of ₹251 (the equivalent of $3.76 as of 29 October 2016). It is being sold by Ringing Bells Private Limited and is marketed as the world's cheapest smartphone.

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya has stated that the phone is bogus and the promotion is a Ponzi scheme. He filed a complaint which led to a first information report (FIR) being registered against Ringing Bells Director Mohit Goel and company president Ashok Chaddha under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Information Technology Act. However, the Allahabad High Court stayed the FIR as premature.[1][2]


The promotional price was offered for a limited time only to online bookings between 18 and 21 February 2016. Traffic was so high on the website that it crashed on the first day. The company says that the regular price will be about ₹500 (US$7.47 as of 31 August 2016).[3]

The company planned to sell 5 million phones by June 2016. At the point its website crashed, it had taken bookings for only 30,000 at the Rs 251 price.[4] By the time bookings closed, Ringing Bells claimed they had taken bookings worth Rs 17.5 million (over US$261,000 as of August 2016).[5]

Money refund[edit]

Ringing Bells had promised to provide refunds to 30,000 customers who pre-booked the Freedom 251 on the first day of the sale. The company stated that the refunds should have reached customers during the first week of March 2016.[6]

The company has said that negative speculation around the Rs 251 smartphone has led them to take the step, and that customers who have booked the phone will now pay only after the smartphone is delivered to them.[7]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

The Indian Cellular Association (ICA) has doubted that a smartphone can realistically be sold at a price as low as Rs 251 and have asked the Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, to intervene. According to the ICA, even with a subsidized sale, the selling price should not be less than Rs 3,500 (US$52.28 as of 31 August 2016). The ICA also complained that senior members of the government had been present at the product launch.[8]

The prototype showcased and handed out to media at the time of launch were rebadged Adcom devices, for which Adcom threatened to sue Ringing Bells. But units circulated later were totally different from the original prototype.[9]

According to Narayanan Madhavan writing in the Hindustan Times, a price of Rs 251 is possible only through deals with advertising partners. Such deals would only be possible once a very large number of handsets were in use.[10]

On 20 February 2016, the offices of Ringing Bells were raided by government officials investigating why the product does not have a Bureau of Indian Standards certification.[11]

Some commentators indicate that the Freedom 251 sale is a scam.[12] The phone looks like a Chinese phone where the original brand label was covered with whitener. The icons shown on screen shots are copied from Apple's iPhone. There are also reports that many people ordered the phone but did not even receive a confirmation email. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya described Ringing Bells as "a Ponzi bogus company scam". He has requested that the Telecom Ministry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and various other ministries investigate the company.[13] As a result of these concerns, the payment gateway facilitator PayUBiz decided to withhold payment to Ringing Bells until the items were dispatched.[5]

The Telecom Ministry after conducting an internal assessment on the phone found that it could not be offered for less than Rs. 2,300 - 2,400 ($34.36-$35.85 USD as of 31 August 2016).[14]

Ringing Bells has also been accused of fraud and non-payment of dues by its customer services provider Cyfuture. [15] [16] [17]

Goel was later arrested by Indian authorities over the aforementioned fraud allegations, after the owner of Ghaziabad-based Ayam Enterprises filed an FIR alleging that Ringing Bells “defrauded” it of Rs. 16 lakh.[18][19][20]

Currently as per recent update the domain has been expired and Godaddy has auctioned it. The new owner has converted it into a Tech blog.[21]


Ringing Bells says it had delivered 5,000 units of Freedom 251 by 9 July 2016, and claimed to be delivering another 65,000 units to customers.[22][23]


  1. ^ "FIR against 'Freedom 251' makers premature: High court - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  2. ^ Mittal, Priyanka (2016-04-08). "Allahabad HC extends relief to Freedom 251". Retrieved 2016-10-15. External link in |newspaper= (help)
  3. ^ "Freedom 251: India's cheapest Android smartphone launched at Rs 251" The Indian Express, 18 February 2016.
  4. ^ Debashis Sarkar, "Freedom 251 site crashed after 30,000 bookings; to launch Bells SIM card", The Times of India, 19 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b Tech Desk, "Ringing Bells Freedom 251 now has cash on delivery option", Indian Express, 26 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Freedom 251 Maker Says Pre-Booking Money to Be Refunded This Week". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  7. ^ "Freedom 251: Ringing Bells says pre-booking money will be refunded". Retrieved 2016-03-01. External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ "Freedom 251: Mobile industry raises concerns", The Times of India, 18 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Gadgets 360: Freedom 251 First Impressions ", NDTV.
  10. ^ Narayanan Madhavan, "A Rs 251 phone is possible, but its chances are tough. Here's why", Hindustan Times, 20 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Income Tax department raids Ringing Bells' Noida office in connection with Freedom 251 Smartphone", Miscw. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Here's Why The Freedom 251 Might Be The Scammiest Scam Of 2016".
  13. ^ ANI, "Freedom 251 is a ponzi scam: BJP MP Kirit Somaiya", The Indian Express, 20 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Telecom ministry assessment doubtful about Freedom 251 : News, News - India Today".
  15. ^ "Noida-based BPO Cyfuture files police complaint against Ringing Bells". The Economic Times.
  16. ^ "Freedom 251-maker Ringing Bells now accused of cheating and fraud by its customer service provider". IBNLive.
  17. ^ "Freedom 251-maker Ringing Bells accused of fraud by its customer service provider".
  18. ^ "Mohit Goel, director of company that made Freedom 251 phones, detained for fraud". Hindustan Times. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  19. ^ Vatsa, Aditi (25 February 2017). "'Cheapest phone' maker Mohit Goel is Class VIII fail: Cops". The Indian Express. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Freedom 251 Smartphone maker gets bail in fraud case". Freedom 251 Info.
  21. ^ "New Freedom 251 About Us". Freedom 251.
  22. ^ "Ringing Bells has actually shipped 5000 Freedom 251 devices, but critics need not apologise – Tech2". Tech2. 2016-07-11. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  23. ^ "Freedom 251: Ringing Bells To Deliver 65,000 More Rs 251 Phones". News18. 2016-08-02. Retrieved 2016-10-15.