Ringing Bells' $4 Freedom 251 Android Smartphone With 4-inch Display And 1.3GHz SoC Ships June 30th

There's been a lot of skepticism over whether a startup called Ringing Bells could deliver on its promise to build the world's least expensive smartphone, but not only does the firm say it's achieved that goal with the Freedom 251, it says the handset is nearly ready to ship. When it does, it will cost consumers in India just 251 Indian rupees, which is less than $4 in U.S. currency.

The name of the handset is based on the price in rupees, in case that wasn't obvious. It will start shipping on June 30, 2016, the first batch of which will contain 200,000 Freedom 251 phones. Once those are shipped out, Ringing Bells will open registration a second time for consumers who want to buy the handset but might have missed out with the first shipment.

Freedom 251

That quantity is far less than Ringing Bells originally planned. Originally Ringing Bells hoped to ship 2.5 million Freedom 251 handsets before the end of June but demand was so high that its online payment system came crashing down.

"We learned from our mistakes and decided to go silent till we come out with the product. Now we have a 4-inch, dual-SIM phone ready for delivery. I feel vindicated," Freedom 251 founder and CEO Mohit Goel told The Indian Express.

Goel claims he's losing between 140 to 150 rupees per unit but thinks he'll turn a profit by bumping up volumes. He also says that despite the loss in revenue, he's "happy that the dream of connecting rural and poor Indians as part of the 'Digital India' and 'Make in India' initiatives has been fulfilled with Freedom 251."

So, what does a sub-$4 smartphone consist of? The Freedom 251 has a 4-inch display powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. There's also 8GB of internal storage that's expandable via microSD, an 8-megapixel rear shooter, a 3.2-megapixel front-facing camera, a 1,800 mAh battery, and Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Now the waiting game begins.