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Ringing Bells' India-Only Android Phone To Run About $4 ( 72

An anonymous reader writes: Freedom 251 is the name of a new affordable Android smartphone which is going on sale in India. It features an 4-core 1.3 Ghz Processor, with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory, and runs an Android Lollipop 5.1 distribution complete with civilian and government applications for Indian citizens. It is being heavily subsidized to make up for the benefits that it will bring to the people who could never afford a smartphone before. Ars Technica notes that the phone is apparently not carrier-subsidized, but as Pocket Now points out, "[t]he nation's defence minister will be at the launch event, a sign that the government has heavily subsidized the project in line with its developmental prerogatives."
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Ringing Bells' India-Only Android Phone To Run About $4

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @12:00PM (#51527683) Journal
    India is a very class conscious society. When I visit India I use a cheap Nokia-the-indestructable phone for calls when not connected to wi-fi. My nephews and nieces call it "servant-maid's phone" and would not be seen dead using it. They would rather buy a cheap unreliable knock off that has an apple logo on it, rather than a reliable Nokia. This 251Rs phone will be instantly marked as the servant-maid, rickshaw-puller, veggie-hawker, coster-monger phone and most of middle class will eschew it. That is actually good. The government subsidy will actually reach the poor. If the manufacturer delivers a half decent product at that price after taking all the govt funds.
    • How else better to keep tabs on the low class people to make sure they don't try to rise up and overthrow the middle or upper class?
    • Yeah, I don't think Apple has anything to fear from low cost phones in general. Europeans who can't afford to drive a nice car will often splash out on fancy clothes, phones and other sub-$1000 status markers, the iPhone being one of the most popular ones.

    • India is a country that very much wanted communism to win. Yes they are conscious of class and they try to provide goods to the poor but you know what happens you subsidize a phone for $4? They all get purchased and sold aboard for huge profits to those that can purchase them. If the sale price abroad is $50 they will pay the poor $25 to get them subsidized and then sell them abroad.

  • It's a subsidized phone, only it's subsidized by the government.

    Yea, this will end well... Mounds of debt added to the government's obligations, piles of money into the manufacturer's and carrier's pockets. Ah the value of a good lobbyist is vast indeed. Watch the money folks...

    • It's a subsidized phone, only it's subsidized by the government. ... Mounds of debt added to the government's obligations

      In many places, education is subsidized by the government. And costs more than $4. If it increases the GDP or saves money elsewhere, this program could easily pay itself off. Even if not, spending a little to improve the citizen's quality of life is itself a valid function of government.

      • In India where Poverty runs rampant, how does this effort help? Children will still be starving, while manufactures of these subsidized phones will be getting fat. There may be a place and time for a government subsidy for cell phones, but in this case, in India, I'm not so sure it's the right place or the right time.
        • The starving children can make apps and sell them. Problem solved.
        • Please keep in mind that India made it to Mars orbit on the first attempt. Neither the US, Russia, China or Japan can say that - only Europe and India.
          • by Threni ( 635302 )

            People say this sort of thing about anything India does. The US and Russia didn't succeed at first attempt to put people into orbit, get them on the moon safely etc precisely because they were doing it first. They were doing the R&D, putting up the money and the people. India just - essentially - bought a 3d printer, made a rocket and launched it. It's similar to the reason elvis impersonators aren't all as famous or respected as elvis was. Once you've got the technology it's not important whether y

            • So why did China and Japan fail in their first attempts if it's so easy? Also, I never mentioned the moon - just first attempts to get to Mars. The US failed on the first attempt. So did the Russians. So did China. So did Japan.

              Once you've got the technology it's not important whether you then target the moon, venus etc.

              Right - it's plain to see that you don't know what you're talking about. If what you claim were true, how come the US and Russia, which had lots of experience in both earth orbit and earth-luna missions, failed in their first Mars attempts?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Simple, a couple of years ago when I was back in India, I remember the guy sitting in my next seat on bus trip booking a laborer who climbs up the cocunut tree over the mobile phone. Mind you the laborer answered the phone while he was on the very top of the tree. Without the phone he would have waited for another day to get work! The notoriously poor communication facilities, before the wireless became available played a major role in hindering the development. The connectivity has enhanced the economic ac

        • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @01:57PM (#51528601) Journal
          That's a rather short-sighted view. Other countries have shown that providing people in underdeveloped regions with access to information can have a big quality on their quality of life and their income. If you're in a remote region, it helps a lot if you can get up-to-date info on markets, weather, agricultural data, and this can provide medical info, education, and access to governmental services as well. If you're a farmer, this can help protect your crops, improve the yield, and get a better price. If you provide other services you can expand your market (it may be worth travelling to the next village to provide your service, but only if you know that there's someone in the village who actually needs you).
          • Put another way, the money could be used to buy food which will help for a little while OR it could be used to do something that will grow the economy, which helps everybody for a long while.

            I'm generally against government subsidies but if this is done correctly I believe it will have a large impact on the economy by giving folks access to information and connectivity that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. It's hard to say what all will come of it but it seems like a worthwhile experiment.

        • In India where Poverty runs rampant, how does this effort help? Children will still be starving, while manufactures of these subsidized phones will be getting fat. There may be a place and time for a government subsidy for cell phones, but in this case, in India, I'm not so sure it's the right place or the right time.

          The kind of generation upon generation endemic poverty exists because of lack of access, lack of communication, lack of transport, lack of awareness of employment options, lack of information. Take a subsistence farmer or a contract farmer for example. He is completely dependent on rain and weather conditions to get a reasonably successful crop that will give his family just about enough calories to last the rest of the year, and a little bit of money for other survival needs. One bad crop, one bad season m

  • 1. Buy a bunch of these phones
    2. Sell them abroad on eBay for $10-15
    3. That's really it
    4. Profit!

    • Maybe they are locked to Indian networks and also are only 2G. You can get a $15 Android phone on Amazon right now. Also you should be more sensitive and not call women "broads" or try to sell them on eBay. They don't like it.
      • Specs here [] indicate it has 3G (42Mbps) on bands 900 and 2100 used throughout Asia and Europe. Since it's not being sold by an Indian telecom, I would guess that it's unlocked, but I'm sure we'll get an answer to that question soon.
    • The world already has $10 Android phones. That said, this probably has better specs than most of them with 1GB RAM, an IPS display and dual SIM slots. Combine that with the fact that for a poor person in India, making $1 for an hour of work is incentive enough, and I'm sure we'll see these on eBay in the near future.
  • Well done, India (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now what about providing the 500+ million Indian citizens with basic services, like electricity, running water and sewage? If you want to be regarded as a modern country, it is high time for you to do that. Anyone can have nuclear weapons, if that's what they really want.

    • Those things require magnitudes more money, and require a much bigger tax base of people working at nontrivial jobs.

      This is accomplished by building factories and other things, which requires not having to give 10% kickbacks to half a dozen officials.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And you think the Indian Government isn't doing any of it? Just last week, there came an article on the Indian Government providing electricity to as many as 253 villages in every week.

      And if you feel that isn't enough - stop complaining, start helping out.

    • You mean a modern country like the USA? I hear they are doing a great job of providing clean water, and reliable utilities, and I'm sure there are a bunch of AT&T customers in Florida that would love to tell you about the quality of phone service that they no longer have available, since it was too expensive for the private telco to maintain. After all, it's easy to show 13% growth in the short-term while you still have assets to sell and people to fire.

    • Basic communication, e.i voice, text and email is arguably as important as those things that you list.

    • Now what about providing the 500+ million Indian citizens with basic services, like electricity, running water and sewage?

      If there's one thing India already has an abundance of, it's sewage.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      India is a work in progress in many areas, but feeding the economic engine so you can have more skilled workers - yes, no matter what you might think of outsourced Indian developers and helpdesks they're skilled for India - paying taxes so they can build out more schools, power, water, sanitation etc. might be more productive in the long run. These are not the spoilt brats of the western world, if you give them the chance to learn many will work hard to improve their life. A phone is a pretty damn cheap too

    • India has a problem with birth rates. Poverty is endemic when everyone is having 7 kids. Think of all the wealth China has built up. Now imagine 30 years from now when the one child policy begins having massive impacts to the population. The lifetime wealth of 8 people will be consolidating to a single person. Even if those people are poor the consolidation will be substantial.

      China has dragged about a billion people out of poverty and then population implosion will turn that value into substantially more f

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Time to update your priors. India has a birth rate of 2.3 per family, and it has been decreasing for quite some time.

  • Start the countdown to an official Indian Android app store, and further to that store having horrible adware and malware issues.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten