India

‘World’s cheapest smartphone’ to be launched in India

Published: 7:01 PM, February 17, 2016

NEW DELHI — A little-known Indian company will on Wednesday (Feb 17) launch a smartphone believed to be the cheapest in the world, targeting a market already dominated by low-cost handsets.

Set to be priced at under 500 rupees ($10.30), domestic handset maker Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251 smartphone is about 1 per cent of the price of the latest Apple iPhone.

Ringing Bells was set up in September 2015 and began selling mobile phones via its website a few weeks ago under its Bell brand, a spokeswoman said.

“This is our flagship model and we think it will bring a revolution in the industry,” she told AFP.

Ringing Bells currently imports parts from overseas and assembles them in India but plans to make its phones domestically within a year, the spokeswoman said.

Cheap smartphone handsets, many of them Chinese-made, are readily available in the Indian market but domestic competitors are making inroads, with models selling for less than US$20 (S$28).

India is the world’s second-largest mobile market and notched up its billionth mobile phone subscriber last October, according to the country’s telecoms regulator.

But in poorer Indian states such as Bihar, “teledensity” — the penetration of telephone connections for every hundred people — is as low as 54 per cent, with a stark urban-rural divide. AFP