$4 iPhone clone is world’s cheapest smartphone

The Freedom 251 doesn't look like this in the flesh. Photo: Ringing Bells

The Freedom 251 doesn’t look like this in the flesh. Photo: Ringing Bells

Android has long been the best platform for smartphone buyers on a budget, and now entry to Google’s ecosystem is even more affordable.

Indian handset maker Ringing Bells just launched the new Freedom 251, an ultra affordable device that looks a lot like an iPhone, priced at 251 rupees — or about $3.67.

Founded just last year, Ringing Bells already claims to be one of the fastest-growing smartphone makers in India. It made a name for itself recently by announcing the most affordable handset with 4G priced at Rs. 2,999 ($30).

Its latest offering makes that look expensive.

You don’t get a lot of smartphone for under $4, but you do get a smartphone nonetheless. The Freedom 251 offers a 4-inch 960×560 display, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity.

There’s also a 3.2-megapixel camera on its back, a 0.3-megapixel camera on its front, a 1,450mAh battery, and Android 5.1 Lollipop that comes with a number of popular apps — including Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube — pre-installed.

The Freedom 251 is clearly designed to look like an iPhone — albeit a very cheap one. It’s like an iPhone 6s made out of plastic with much bigger bezels. Ringing Bells has even ripped off many of Apple’s iOS icons, without even bothering to alter them.

The picture above doesn’t look anything like the real Freedom 251, by the way. It was probably created to throw Apple’s lawyers off the scent. The hands-on photo below from NDTV’s Gadgets 360 gives you a more accurate look at the device — and there are more on its website.

The actual Freedom 251. Photo: NDTV/Gadgets 360

The actual Freedom 251. Photo: NDTV/Gadgets 360

The Freedom 251 hopes to take advantage of India’s fast-developing smartphone market. Sales there are expected to overtake those of the U.S. soon, at which point, India will become the second-largest smartphone market in the world, behind China.

A number of other manufactures have been looking to take advantage of this, with Xiaomi and Lenovo planning to set up manufacturing plants locally. Apple is also investing $25 million into a new development center there.

Some reports have claimed Foxconn, which assembles the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices, is also planning to spend $5 billion on new Indian facilities.

The Freedom 251 will be available to order on February 18 at 6 a.m. local time. We’ll have to wait and see whether a smartphone priced under $4 is actually worth buying, but it certainly looks promising right now.