The future of the $4 smartphone might not look as bright as you might imagine

ringing bells 4 dollar smartphone freedom 251
Cast in doubt the moment it was announced in February, Ringing Bells’ $4 unicorn of a smartphone that is the Freedom 251 finally started shipping to customers. Moving forward, however, the future of the Freedom 251 seems to be nebulous at best.

Even though Ringing Bells promised to deliver 200,000 Freedom 251 units to customers, a company representative said that it needs help from the Indian government to make those deliveries.

“We may deliver more units if we get help or we may not deliver at all in the upcoming months,” the representative told Indian Express. “We are only focusing on the giving away of devices now.”

Furthermore, Ringing Bells co-founder and CEO Mohit Goel sent an open letter to India’s Prime Minister, asking for a total of $7.4 billion in financial support. According to the letter, the Freedom 251 is offered on “Cash on Delivery” terms. However, there is a gap between how much the phone costs to make and how much Ringing Bells sells the phone for. As such, not only will the money to go subsidizing Ringing Bells’ efforts, but ensure that every Indian will get the Freedom 251, said Goel.

Each Freedom 251 costs $20 to make, but thanks to partnerships Ringing Bells makes with software companies in order to have their apps pre-installed on the phone, the company loses $2 for each phone sold, reports CNET.

Goel made the assurance that Ringing Bells will continue to make Freedom 251 units even without assistance from the Indian government. We cannot help but wonder the validity of such a statement when the company also announced a total of six new phones, an HDTV, and power banks — a move that can be seen as a way to keep Ringing Bells afloat.

Out of the six phones, four of them are feature phones while the remaining two, the Elegance and the Elegant, are much smarter. The Elegance features a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 resolution display, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, a 2,800mAh battery, and 4G LTE. Meanwhile, the Elegant also features the same display, processor, and RAM, but steps down to 3G and a 2,500mAh battery. The Elegance and Elegant will be sold for $67 and $60, respectively.

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