Smartphones are getting cheaper. However, while the OnePlus 2, the Nexus 5X, and the Moto X Style all offer amazing value for money, they’re still way too expensive for some. Step forward Ringing Bells — yes, that really is the company’s name — a smartphone manufacturer from India, and the Freedom 251 phone (again, that really does seem to be it’s name), that’ll cost about $5.
For that price, you’d be forgiven if you expect very little. However, judging by the specs listed on Ringing Bell’s website, it’s not the utter disaster it could have been. Apparently, the Freedom 251 will have a 4-inch screen with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, a quad-core 1.3Ghz processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a MicroSD card slot. A very ordinary 3.2-megapixel camera is on the rear, and a probably awful VGA cam sits above the screen. It won’t be winning any spec battles, but who cares? It’s $5. Best of all, it’ll run Android 5.1, and not some terrible proprietary OS with no apps.
While we may grin at the concept of a phone that costs $5, in India (and many other countries), it could help millions of people who normally wouldn’t have the financial means to get online. In mid-2015, mobile accounted for 65-percent of India’s Internet traffic, but only 11-percent of the population own a smartphone, meaning there’s huge growth potential, and the smartphone will probably be their device-of-choice.
India is also extremely price and value-conscious. Google’s Android One initiative — where phones cost the equivalent of around $100 were launched to encourage buyers — didn’t have the best start, due to low profit margins and a wealth of competition. It pushed Google to revise its ambitions in 2015, aiming for a $50 cost instead. Looked at that way, a phone that costs 10-percent of even a future Android One phone makes sense.
If you’re wondering how it’s possible to produce and sell a smartphone for so little, it appears Ringing Bells is getting some assistance from several technology schemes run by the Indian government. The Freedom 251 phone will be up for pre-order on February 18.