The Freedom 251 may be the world’s cheapest smart phone but the device released by Noida-based Ringing Bells is riddled with problems, including a possible copyright infringement of Apple’s iconic iPhone, HT has found.
The phone – that buyers can purchase for Rs 251 from the company’s website from Thursday -- was launched at a high-profile function attended by senior BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi and Madhya Pradesh legislator Omprakash Sakhlecha in Delhi at 7pm.
Ringing Bells has called the phone “India’s most affordable smartphone” in full-page newspaper ads, pitching it as a huge push for the government’s Make in India and Digital India initiative.
But when HT got its hands on a Freedom 251 unit, it had multiple problems.
A Ringing Bells spokesperson refused to answer any of HT’s questions stating they have not actually seen the phone.
Most built-in app icons on the Freedom 251 are a direct copy of icons on Apple’s iPhone. Take a look at the screenshot below for a side-by-side comparison of the icons on the Freedom 251 and the iPhone. Even the web browser app is a rip-off of Apple’s Safari browser that only exists on iPhones, iPads, and the Mac.
The phone doesn’t look anything like Freedom 251’s photos on Ringing Bell’s website. Here’s a side-by-side comparison. The model we received looks closer to an iPhone, complete with a round home button.
MADE IN INDIA?
The front of the Freedom 251 is emblazoned with a shiny brand name that says Adcom. In the phone that was sent to HT, this logo was covered up with whitener.
A quick Google search revealed Adcom is a New Delhi-based importer of IT products. This particular model is listed on multiple e-commerce websites including Gadgets360, Amazon, Snapdeal and Shopclues for approximately Rs. 4,000.
When HT got in touch with Adcom, the company’s marketing head denied any knowledge of Adcom’s logo being used on the device. “We have no idea that our branding is being used on the Freedom 251,” Adcom’s marketing head Deepanjali Arora told HT. “We will look into this.”
The phone’s official website says Freedom 251 will be pre-loaded with the Swachh Bharat app, a women’s safety app, and YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook, among others.
However, the model that HT received did not have any apps pre-loaded.
“These apps will be there in the version of the phone that we actually sell,” a Ringing Bell spokesperson told Hindustan Times. “This is just a preview version of the phone that we’re giving to media to try out.”