A phone too cheap to be taken seriously?

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Freedom 251 — claimed to be the world’s cheapest smartphone, became the top trending topic not only on Twitter and social media, but offline as well because of its price point. As the Noida-based company Ringing Bells’ venture created a flutter, with claims of 7.35 crore registrations, Metrolife decoded what fuelled the interest of the people despite media reports claiming it to be a “scam”.

When Alpika Joyner

Charan’s fiancé tried booking for the smartphone on the company’s website, the site crashed, much like others who tried. “Obviously, it is cheap.

A latest android, fast speed internet-enabled smartphone at Rs 251 is out of anybody’s imagination. That is why, I wanted to buy it. Unfortunately, at the payment gateway, the site crashed,” says the 28-year-old.

Given the huge interest in the ultra-low cost smartphone, people like Charan showed genuine interest in buying it. “Though there have been reports claiming otherwise, personally, I feel that it could be true. They might just end up delivering the phones on time,” she says.  

While Charan had asked her fiancé to buy it for her as a “backup phone”, there were some who wanted to check the credibility of the offer, and there were some others who simply wanted to “have fun”.

As a systems engineer with Infosys, Shivangi Pathak’s first reaction to the new offering was full of “curiosity”. “My friends and I tried the online booking only to check how far the website is technically sound. It was visible within the few seconds. If you are expecting a million sales, you can’t have a website that crashes with an expected amount of traffic,” the 24-year-old mentions. Touting it to be very similar to Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Days’ sale, she is apprehensive about the quality and delivery of phones — the first phase of which is scheduled to take place before June 30, this year. She says, “As of now they haven’t even set up one manufacturing plant. I don’t think it is going anywhere.”

However, the brain behind the venture, Mohit Kumar Goel has claimed to set up 20 manufacturing units across the country, with the first one being in the pipeline and maintaining that he will not be importing China-made phones to deliver on his promises.

The social media had already started trolling Goel, and “funny memes and satires” on the maker and his device flooded the internet. For instance, ‘Airtel 4G girl booked all phones yesterday only’ reads Bhaskar Singh’s (@Bhaskarsinet) tweet while Vineesh Kumar (@Vine244) mentions, ‘To book the #Freedom251, I think we need to enter the address
251 times’.

After reading some of these viral messages, Anshuman Sinha decided to order. “My interest was at its peak the moment these funny memes appeared. So, I tried the booking and I booked after trying multiple times,” says Sinha. Meanwhile, a spoof website freedom651.com promises to deliver Rs 651 smartphone in 40 years via drones from “Doesn't Ring Bells Pvt Ltd”.

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