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Freedom 251's Creator Ringing Bells Comes Under Scrutiny After Controversy

Discussion in 'Tech News World' started by Alexa, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. Alexa

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    It all began with the announcement of the world’s cheapest smartphone - the $4 Freedom 251 made in India. The company behind the project - Ringing Bells - received a huge coverage in the media and received beyond positive backup from users around the world.

    The first odd thing to happen was the change of the design shortly after the announcement. Few people noticed this, but it happened - Ringing Bells swapped the picture of the Freedom 251 on their website from a good-looking phone with thin bezels to a more generic 4" brick with rather thick bezels and just a single central key.

    But hey, this thing is supposed to cost $4, so nobody cared how the phone looks like.

    Recently, media representatives received prototypes of the phone, which raised more questions instead of building more hype. The shipped phones turned out to be Adcom phones with their logos covered by simple correction fluid. Adcom is a Chinese company and the model Ringing Bells has sent to its partners Adcom is selling for about $50 on the Indian market. and it's certainly not the Made in India phone, which they promised.

    What was even more disturbing was the phone’s software - the UI used icons entirely identical to the Apple’s iOS default icons.

    Finally, fellow journalists sought out Ringing Bells HQ for some questions, but the offices turned out to be empty.

    The company's CEO took some time to give answers to some of those pressing questions, but we aren’t sure if these responses are not raising further questions.

    It turns out Ringing Bells indeed used an Adcom phone as a demo unit in an attempt to gauge the reception by the audience. The Freedom 251 smartphone will supposedly use the same specs, though the external design will differ in the final version.

    The same goes for the pre-installed software - it may look like iOS now, but Ringing Bells has designers, which are working on a custom UI and it will be different in the final product.

    The Adcom phones Ringing Bells gave to the media were just mere prototypes of what the phone may look like and what it may run on. It wasn’t anything final, the idea was to gather impressions and decide how to proceed later on - a move, which raises an eyebrow.

    While all this sounds reasonable, it raises new questions - is the Freedom 251 just a concept then? It seems the company has no clue how the final phone will look like, what launcher it will feature, and where it will be made - India or China.

    The Ringing Bells CEO promised they are a registered Android Partner, although the company is not on the list. They have not submitted a phone for certification within the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), yet they are already selling it online. It looks like they are selling a concept, which is not even approved by the Indian authorities yet.

    For just two days the company received more than 60 million registrations and has since stopped accepting any new ones. Ringing Bells didn’t anticipate such an interest, and it is yet to fulfill the first 30,000 orders made. Once those are completed, Ringing Bells promises to take more.

    Meanwhile Indian companies have asked the Telecom Ministry to check the Ringing Bells credentials. The company would certainly come under scrutiny.

    Long story short - Ringing Bells isn’t certain how the final Freedom 251 will look like, what launcher it will utilize, or when it will be ready. No matter how we look at this, the Freedom 251 seems more like a concept phone, which may or may not make it to the market anytime soon.

    Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3 (incl. images)
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