The Crazy Story of the Freedom 251: The World’s Cheapest Smartphone

Eli Moore, Entertainment Editor

It seems like you can’t walk fifty feet without running into a smartphone. And middle school is a definite hotbed for it. At lunch, people are crowded around their screens, watching each other play some silly games or viewing a “comical” video.

But things are different in certain parts of the world. As it may strike you, smartphones are expensive. It’s not uncommon for phones to go past 1,000 dollars in price. But two years ago, an Indian company know by Ringing Bells tried to fix that: they released a four-dollar smartphone.

Crazy, right? It seems like nirvana for any person who doesn’t want to sell their kidneys for a phone. But, with all things that seem too good to be true, it most likely is.


The Story


Let’s set the scene: India, 2016. It’s been an interesting year for the country, with the economy slowly going up and the population still increasing. But a small minority of people have a smartphone.

Then, February rolls around, and a bombshell is dropped. A small company known as Ringing Bells was going to release a smartphone that cost 251 Indian rupees, or about 4 U.S. dollars.

The media, willing to suckle this for all its worth, made it viral. People were sharing this around Twitter, and over 30,000 people were pre-ordering the smartphone off of the website.

Launch day rolls around, and nobody is getting their smartphone. A day passes, then a week, and still no word from Ringing Bells. Eventually, there was a leak.

It turns out that Ringing Bells was just re-branding a different device, shipped from a Chinese firm known as Adcom.

Here’s the kicker: the few smartphones that were given to reporters had White-Out over the top of the phone. The reporters scratched it off, and saw the Adcom label, clear as day.

Now, let me get this straight: THEY USED WHITE-OUT TO COVER THE ADCOM LOGO.


Eventually, the CEO of Ringing Bells was arrested. As a matter of fact, the whole company was shut down.

Upon further inspection, Adcom’s phone was called the Ikon 4, and retailed for 40 USD in China. Here’s also some of the specifications of the Freedom 251/Ikon 4 compared to the iPhone XR. Why this phone? To highlight how terrible in quality the Freedom 251 is. And yes, I know it’s a bit unfair, but whatever.


iPhone XR Freedom 251
Selfie Camera: 8 Megapixels (8 million pixels in a photo) Selfie Camera: 0.3 Megapixels (300,000 pixels in a photo)
Main Camera: 12 Megapixels Main Camera: 3.2 Megapixels
Memory: up to 256 gigabytes Memory: 8 gigabytes
Usage Time: 25 hours Usage Time: 7 Hours 15 Minutes


And to the people who want to buy the Freedom 251: you can’t. It is unavailable in practically all online stores.

What is the meaning behind all this? Well, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.