Royal Mail Plc, operator of Britain’s main postal service, said on Wednesday it had banned the delivery of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphones through its network for safety reasons, making it potentially difficult for many Britons to return the recalled devices.
Samsung recalled about 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s last month after reports some had caught fire due to faulty lithium batteries, and the company said on Tuesday it would stop making the devices after fires were reported in replacement phones.
Royal Mail said the ban also applied to its Parcelforce UK and international courier service.
The company said it would ask customers to detail the contents of their packages to ensure that hazardous items such as faulty lithium batteries were not transported.
After the initial dispatch of 5,000 units, Indian company Ringing Bells on Monday announced it has started deliveries of 65,000 more Freedom 251 smartphone units across many states in India. These include West Bengal, Haryana, Himachal, Bihar, Uttarakhand, New Delhi, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
For those unaware, Ringing Bells announced the Freedom 251 smartphone in February this year, with a shocking price tag of Rs. 251. With that unbelievable price tag, the smartphone received as many as 7 crore registrations.
After much delay, the company managed to dispatch the first batch of 5,000 units last month. The only mode of payment is cash on delivery, and therefore it collects Rs.251 (plus delivery charges of Rs. 40) only once the smartphone is delivered. With the latest batch of 65,000 units, makes the total shipment figures go up to 70,000.
“We started the process of lottery few days back, and now we are dispatching the units to the people. We are elated with the response that we have got for the delivered units. It gives us immense pleasure when we see the satisfied reactions of people who got more than they wished for in terms of quality of our low-cost product,” the company spokesperson said.
The Freedom 251 budget Android smartphone touts a quad-core processor, a 4-inch display, apart from front and back cameras. The company looks to ship the Freedom 251 smartphone to 200,000 registered users at least, and then chalk out the roadmap for further production.
At an event last month, Ringing Bells announced two new budget Android smartphones – Ringing Bells Elegance and Ringing Bells Elegant – as well as four new feature phones, three power banks, and a 31.5-inch HD LED TV.
Ringing Bells, the Noida-based firm that ran into controversy after announcing a Rs. 251 phone five months back, claimed on Thursday it will start shipping the cheapest smartphone ever from Friday.
In February, the company announced the Freedom 251 phone which saw a mad rush of over 70 million people jostling to register but when the prototype was presented to media it turned out to be produced by another manufacturer with its logo covered.
This led to protests from buyers and consequent inquiries by police and tax officials, forcing the company to stop sale of the product and offer refunds to those who had booked the phone.
The Freedom 251 prototype touts a quad-core processor, a 4-inch screen and front and back cameras, priced at an astonishingly low rate of Rs. 251.
Ringing Bells Director Mohit Goel, who had last week stated that his company will soon start shipping 200,000 smartphones to buyers picked by lottery, said on Thursday deliveries will start as early as Friday.
“We will start delivery of 5,000 Freedom 251 phones in the first phase from tomorrow,” he told reporters at an event organised to unveil new models as well as an LED TV priced at Rs. 9,990.
Ringing Bells had last month stated that it will start deliveries for 2 lakh handsets from June 30 initially, then mentioned 10,000 devices will be given to customers in 19 states, and has now brought it down to 5,000 devices.
Goel said the first batch of 5,000 ‘Freedom 251’ devices will be out for delivery from July 8 and buyers will have to pay Rs. 291, including Rs. 40 as delivery charges.
He had previously stated that Ringing Bells faced Rs. 930 loss on each phone, which cost Rs. 1,180 and the parts were imported from Taiwan. He had claimed that Rs. 700-800 will be recovered from app developers and advertisement revenue.
When the phone was announced in February, about 30,000 people paid in advance for booking the phone and over 7 crore people registered for it, which is equivalent to the phones Samsung and Apple sell in an entire year.
Today, Goel claimed that the company is ready to ship 2 lakh units of the smartphone at Rs 251 each, but “only if it gets government support”. He, however, said that Ringing Bells will ship two lakh units to people who registered for it even if the company doesn’t get government support but it will take time.
The company also unveiled four new feature phones in the range of Rs. 699-999 and two budget Android smartphones thatare priced between Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,499.
It also unveiled three power banks, and a 31.5-inch HD LED TV priced at Rs 9,900 that will be launched on August 15.
Freedom 251 units will finally start shipping on Friday, the controversial manufacturer of the Rs. 251 smartphone said in New Delhi on Thursday. At the event, Ringing Bells also announced two new budget Android smartphones – Ringing Bells Elegance and Ringing Bells Elegant – as well as four new feature phones, three power banks, and a HD TV.
The company reiterated that Freedom 251 deliveries will begin on Friday with 5,000 units that will ship out to customers chosen by lucky draws. ‘Based on feedback from these customers’, Ringing Bells will decide the fate of the millions of others who’d pre-ordered the Rs. 251 smartphone, the company said.
As for Elegance and Elegant, the two new phones announced by Ringing Bells, they come with a 5-inch 720p display and are powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor alongside 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage, expandable by another 32GB via a microSD slot. Both smartphones run Android 6.0 out of the box, and come with an 8-megapixel rear camera, as well as a 3.2-megapixel front shooter. Connectivity options on the two phones include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM.
While the Rs. 4,499 Ringing Bells Elegance comes with 4G connectivity (with VoLTE support) and a 2800mAh battery, the Ringing Bells Elegance, carrying a price tag of Rs. 3,999, is a 3G phone powered by a 2500mAh battery.
Both phones are listed on Ringing Bells’ website but there’s no word yet on how and when they will become available.
At the event, the company also announced four new feature phones: Ringing Bells Hit (Rs. 699), Ringing Bells King (Rs. 899), Ringing Bells Boss (Rs. 999), and Ringing Bells Raja (Rs. 1,099). Three power banks – RB Power (4000mAh, Rs. 399), RB Power Plus (5500mAh, Rs. 499), RB Smart (8000mAh, Rs. 699) – are now listed on the company’s website as well.
Ringing Bells has also announced a 31.5-inch HD LED TV priced at Rs. 9,900 that will be launched on August 15. Pre-order and other details will be shared at a later date.
Noida-based startup Ringing Bells has now announced that the company will begin delivering the Freedom 251 smartphone from July 8. The company says delivery will be made only to 5,000 customers, and they will be charged Rs. 40 – more than 15 percent of the cost of the phone – for delivery.
Adding the delivery charges, the total cost of the smartphone goes up to Rs. 291. After delivering 5,000 handsets, CEO Mohit Goel told IANS that he ‘will wait’ for customer feedback. He even claims to be ‘ready with 500 service centres pan-India to address people’s queries’. Goel has even written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for government support. He says if the government is willing to dole out Rs. 50,000 crore from its Digital India funds, he can ensure that 750 million people in India can own a smartphone at Rs 251.
Ringing Bells has delayed the delivery of the Freedom 251 smartphone multiple times now. The initial delivery commencement date was at June 30, but that got delayed to July 6. The deliveries didn’t pan out as scheduled the second time either, and now 5,000 units are expected to be shipped on July 8. The company is expected to provide these final shipment details at the event in New Delhi on Thursday. Goel also claims that the company is bearing a loss of Rs. 180 – Rs. 270 per smartphone, as it imported parts from Taiwan, but hopes to make it up in volume sales. Goel also claims to generate revenue by creating as many as 100 new apps, and sell it for Rs. 1 to Rs. 3 to its Freedom 251 users.
The company’s official website is also down currently, with a message that claims to ‘unveil’ a new website on Thursday.
Ringing Bell’s CEO Mohit Goel had earlier said the company is ready with 2 lakh units of the Freedom 251 smartphone. The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, and features a 4-inch display. It is powered by a quad-core 1.3GHz processor paired with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage (expandable to 32GB). It sports an 8-megapixel primary camera with flash, a 3.2-megapixel selfie camera, and a 1,800 mAh battery. It is available in Black, and White colour options, and comes with all basic Google apps.
The company is also expected to unveil an HD LED TV for less than Rs. 10,000. There is also a separate new range of smartphones that is going to be launched at the event. Of course, this is subject to the company keeping its word, and its track record of doing that so far is sketchy at best.
As consumers wait to see the cheapest smartphone (less than $4) at its scheduled launch in the capital on Thursday, its Noida-based makers have made another pitch for the government’s support to make their loss-making venture “work for millions” who don’t own such a phone.
According to Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd CEO Mohit Goel, he initially faced Rs. 930 loss on each handset that cost him Rs. 1,180 and for which parts were imported from Taiwan.
“I recovered Rs. 700-800 from app developers and revenue generated through advertisements on Freedom 251 website. After selling the device for Rs. 251 (cash on delivery), the total loss per handset is expected to be in the range of Rs. 180-270,” Goel told IANS.
The first batch of 5,000 ‘Freedom 251’ devices will finally be out for delivery from July 8 and the receiver will have to pay Rs. 291 (including Rs. 40 as delivery charge) to get the unit, says Goel.
“In order to digitally-empower every Indian, if I can get government support under the Digital India programme, I can ensure timely delivery of ‘Freedom 251’ phone to all citizens at the same price,” Goel said on the eve of the launch event.
In a letter written to the Prime Minister’s Office dated June 28 asking for a meeting with Narendra Modi, Ringing Bells said: “We have brought ‘Freedom 251’ which we offer on ‘Cash on Delivery’ terms but we have a gap between the BOM (Bill of Materials) and the Selling Price. We, therefore, humble request government support to actualise the objective to cascade the availability and usage of smartphones all through the far reaches of our great nation”.
Goel’s ambition is huge. He says if the government is willing to dole out Rs. 50,000 crores, he can ensure that 750 million of India’s population would become part of digital India by owning a smartphone at Rs. 251.
Bringing some modesty into the equation about the enormity of his demand, Goel says that the government need not give his company the money but can get it manufactured by another vendor.
“The government can make the phone – under our Freedom brand – from some other vendor. I have no objection to it. To make such phone for every Indian citizen, the government needs to allocate funds from its Digital India initiative,” he said.
Having learnt his lessens from the controversial February launch when Ringing Bells invited senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, this time, Goel wants to play safe and is not inviting any politician for the launch.
“I want to keep this event controversy-free. I have proved that a smartphone is actually possible in this kind of investment. But to fulfill a mammoth handset order that runs in crores, we badly need government’s support,” he added.
To generate more revenue, he plans to go to iCloud (cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple) and begin a software called “WhiteCloud”.
“The aim is to make and provide at least 100 new apps online to ‘Freedom 251′ owners and charge them bare minimum – to the tune of Re. 1 to Rs. 3 per app – to generate revenue,” he said.
After delivering 5,000 phones in the first batch, Goel says he will wait for customers’ feedback. “I am ready with 500 service centres pan-India to address people’s queries,” he claimed.
The company will also showcase a 32-inch high-definition LED television – also called “Freedom” – at the launch event.
“These will be the cheapest television sets in India and will be available for less than Rs 10,000. Online registration for the TV sets will be open from July 25 with delivery to be made from August 1,” Goel said, claiming that the company currently has one lakh such pieces in stock.
In comparison, the price of a 32-inch HD LED TV sets normally begins from Rs. 13,000 in online markets.
In an earlier interview to IANS, Goel had also claimed that they are ready with nearly two lakh ‘Freedom 251’ handsets.
The company had in mid-February this year planned to deliver 25 lakh handsets before June 30. However, it received over seven crore registrations before its payment gateway crashed within three days.
The 3G device has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory and supports external memory cards of up to 32GB.
The company has offered an 8MP primary camera with flash, a 3.2MP front camera and a 1,800 mAh battery. It runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop).
The phone would be available in two colours – black and white.
The device displays the Indian Tricolour when you switch it on. It will incorporate all the basic Google apps in the handset, according to Goel.