The world’s cheapest smartphone has been launched, and yes it is not an iPhone. The Freedom 251 has been launched in India and for R251. At the current exchange rate of 1ZMW = 6.03R the phone will cost you only ZMW41.60. Based on all the information we could find the cost of the device is not subsidised by any carrier. The Freedom 251 is made by the Indian company Ringing Bells, whose stated vision is to bridge the digital divide by empowering people with the latest technology at affordable prices. Ringing Bells was established in 2015 and is an unknown brand the to rest of the world.
The phone has very impressive specifications for the list price:
1.3 GHz Quad core processor
4inch qHD IP display
3.2 MP AF rear camera
0.3 MP front camera
SD Support (upto 32GB)
1450 mAh battery
It is difficult to critique a ZMW42 phone. All the elements of the phone are beyond what we would expect and at a price with the potential to push internet penetration in Zambia from 16% to over 50%. At 1.3GHz the processor is able to start and run most applications we use on a daily basis without being sluggish. With the qHD display at a mere 4inches means the images on it will be super sharp whilst ensuring a satisfactory battery life from the 1450mAh power unit. At 8GB internal storage we are glad they included SD support because the typical applications used on the device will be WhatsApp and Facebook Zero. The Freedom 251 will run Lollipop reducing the need for developers to reach far back into the compatibility archive and keep the user from feeling like they paid for a hand me down handset.
The device is not a most definitely not a looker, and was not expected to be. I did try place an order to see if I could go through the process and own a ZMW42 smartphone but the phone is 4 months away from shipping.
The jury is still out as to whether this is a brilliant marketing campaign, a new way to do a Kickstarter campaign or the smartphone break through Zambia needs.