Yes, the Freedom 251 smartphone at Rs 251 is awesome, but thank you!

Since yesterday, a lot's been spoken about the Freedom 251. It's been quite a rage online over the past two days. What we knew about the device was that it was going to be a sub Rs. 500 device. But this morning, double spread ads across leading newspapers in India confirmed that the device was going to be sold at the price of a cheap screenguard for an Apple iPhone.


Since yesterday, a lot's been spoken and written about the Freedom 251.

It's been quite a rage online over the past two days. What we knew about the device was that it was going to be a sub-Rs 500 device. Yesterday morning, double spread ads across leading newspapers in India confirmed that the device was going to be sold at the price of a cheap screenguard for an Apple iPhone.

Has it succeeded in eliciting consumer interest? 'Yes' is an understatement. 'Absurd' is more likely how you'd describe the attention it enjoyed since morning. The last time something like this happened with a product announcement was the Tata Nano. What has happened to it since then, makes us contain our excitement around the Freedom 251 smartphone. To understand whether or not it is judicious to invest Rs 251 in a device, you’d need to understand what makes a smartphone a necessity.

A frequent comment by users when asked why they need a phone is, ‘I just want a device to make phone calls, should have decent battery, and be able to text and message and stuff like that.’ In reality though, the ‘smart’ phone is expected to have a decent camera. That's why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and several other online services are so popular. It's all about the photos, and the effects and the promptness of typing and handling rich media that determines overall experience. For others, it's the ability to search through tons of emails to enhance productivity.

One way of circumventing it is to have a ultra high-speed network with powerful cloud computing potential. The other way, is to have a powerful device with great specifications. Falling back on the Tata Nano example, it's more like the Maruti Alto which continued to enjoy dominance in the market, while still being costlier than the Tata Nano.

Remember the pouting and the obsession with selfies? So a smartphone with 3.2MP primary camera and a 0.3MP front camera is bound to disappoint. I remember using a Sony Ericsson K750i in 2005. It was a state of the art device back then. At least I loved carrying it around because it ticked off all the checkboxes for me to indulge in. So if I have to spend Rs 251, I might just put that money in an additional memory card. It's amusing that the memory card supported by the device would cost far more than the smartphone itself.

The key takeaway from the Tata Nano story is that India is value-conscious more than it is price-conscious. So what we’ve witnessed this morning is the surge of interest around the fact that a smartphone would be available at Rs 251. Soon this wave would cease. Because it won’t allow you to do stuff you expect from your device. In my opinion, I don't think Ringing Bells wants its product to be called the world's 'cheapest' smartphone.

But then, to be fair to the company, Ringing Bells, of which little is known, it is aimed at a specific segment of users. To get a fair idea of who those users are, a look at the preinstalled apps would help – Fisherman, Farmer, Swachh Bharat. The marketing folks are clearly reading it through SEC C to E. More than affordability, it’s about how music and video clips for quick listening is more important to a vast majority of those users.

I'm probably in the minority to stay away from the Freedom 251, because there certainly isn't dearth of interest in the smartphone.

But should you get your hands on a Freedom 251? Find out below:

 

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