Ringing Bells

Indian Smartphone Selling for $3.67. That Ring a Bell?

Feb. 17, 2016
The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 is selling for just 251 rupees, or about $3.67. Will it bring a real revolution? Or will the low prices remain on the other side of the world?

NEW DELHI — A little-known Indian company is launching a smartphone believed to be the cheapest in the world, targeting a market already dominated by low-cost handsets. 

Set to be priced at just 251 rupees ($3.67), domestic handset maker Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251 smartphone is less than 1% of the price of the latest Apple iPhone.   

Ringing Bells was set up in September 2015 and began selling mobile phones via its website a few weeks ago under its Bell brand, a spokeswoman said, adding that, “we think it will bring a revolution in the industry.”

Ringing Bells currently imports parts from overseas and assembles them in India, but plans to make its phones domestically within a year, the spokeswoman said. 

Cheap smartphone handsets, many of them Chinese-made, are readily available in the Indian market, but domestic competitors are making inroads, with models selling for less than $20. 

India is the world’s second-largest mobile market and notched its billionth mobile phone subscriber in October, according to the country’s telecoms regulator.

But in poorer Indian states such as Bihar, “teledensity” — the penetration of telephone connections for every hundred people — is as low as 54%, with a stark urban-rural divide. 

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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