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.”

Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.

These cheap laptops will make you wonder why anyone spends more

Looking for a budget notebook for school, work, or play? The best budget laptops, including our top pick -- the Asus ZenBook UX330UA -- will get the job done without digging too deep into your pockets.

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.

Instagram tool accidentally exposes user passwords. Were you affected?

Instagram's Download Your Data tool accidentally exposed the passwords of a small number of users. Here is the explanation on what happened, and how to find out which Instagram accounts were compromised.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?

New iPad Pro’s durability in question after it fails YouTuber’s bend test

The new iPad Pro models failed a bend test that was carried out by popular YouTuber JerryRigEverything. The result raises questions about the durability of the tablets, especially since customers are also reporting bending issues.

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to use it.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

How to choose the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

If you need some extra storage space and your device supports it, then a MicroSD card is an obvious place to start. Here, we look at what to consider and suggest some of the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

Common Kindle Fire problems, and how to fix them

Is your Amazon tablet giving you grief? Is it refusing to behave the way you expect? Take a deep breath -- everything will be fine. Here are some widely reported Kindle Fire problems and a few possible solutions to go with them.