A smartphone costing just $4 starts shipping this week

freedom 251 launch phone

We first heard about Ringing Bells’ ridiculously cheap handset back in February. The idea of an Android smartphone costing a mere $4 left many assuming it came not only without bells and whistles, but also without a display, camera, processor, storage, and all the other things you’d normally associate with such a device.

However, the Freedom 251 phone is apparently a thing, and four months later the Indian company says it’s now ready to start shipping the device to consumers in the country.

So what exactly do you get with a handset that makes a Big Mac meal look pricey? Well, the specs are sure to surprise you. Because it costs $4.

As well as a 4-inch screen with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, the Freedom 251 also offers a quad-core 1.3Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot, and an 1800mAh battery.

It also comes with an 8-megapixel camera, a significant improvement on the 3.2-megapixel shooter announced back in February. Let’s just remind you of that price again: $4.

When Ringing Bells took the wraps off its ultra-cheap handset earlier this year, tech sites around the world immediately began to question its authenticity. Was it a joke? A scam? Or was it really, as it claimed, a genuine smartphone capable of bringing internet access to huge numbers of poorer Indians who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford such a device.

Many were quick to suggest that the total value of the Freedom 251’s parts exceeded the price of the phone, while others pointed out that the device was suspiciously similar to the Adcom Ikon 4, an entry-level Chinese smartphone.

In fact, the phone caused so much doubt that the Indian Cellular Association (ICA) decided to raise its concerns with India’s telecom minister.

Under pressure, Ringing Bells founder and CEO Mohit Goel insisted the phone was the real deal and offered to speak to the authorities if there were any doubts about the device.

Four months on and still very much in business, Ringing Bells will start shipping the device on Thursday. It’s never been made clear how the phone has achieved its low price point, leaving many to assume that the Indian government is helping with costs.

Speaking over the weekend, Goel said, “We learned from our mistakes and decided to go silent till we come out with the product. Now we have a 4-inch, dual-SIM phone ready for delivery. I feel vindicated.”