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Feb 18

Visiting India is always a bittersweet experience for me. I see so many things changing but so many things remain the same. Who can forget the dud Aakash tablet ? And now hot on its heels comes the latest ‘’pretend’ to make in India product, the Freedom 251 phone. The phone launched at a price point of Rs. 251 promises that its the world’s cheapest smartphone. Boasting of 8GB internal memory and 1GB of RAM along with a 1.3 Ghz Quad core processor, the specs are no joke for the price tag. However the phone and its gaffes are super jokes unless the company is able to do some serious explaining.

For one, all icons on the phone are blatant copies of the Apple iPhone, they even copied the Safari icon for their generic browser on their Android 5.1. Most of the other icons such as music are also copies of the iPhone. A news source was quoting company sources as saying that Apple has not copyrighted these icons. Calling bullshit on that ! Even the start interface looks like Apple’s and the home button and rounded edges are also copies of the legendary Apple phone.

The company also plans to setup plants in Noida worth over 250 crores, however there is no indication of how they would actually get this money. With the 4 month delivery promise, it looks like a pyramid scheme at the moment. The Indian govt. also seems to have some shady partnership with this company with the Freedom 251 makers proposing to launch with Govt. bloatware apps like Swach Bharat and Farmer and Women Safety. The company however claims no subsidy if being given to them.

The phone also has the Indian tricolor to further impress upon the fact that its an Indian phone, however the test phones given to some media outlets had Adcom branding whitened out , and the company Adcom is just an importer of IT products. So the more someone questions and digs into this so called cheap smartphone, the more it becomes apparent that its largely a scam and the make in India part is probably just an eyewash to sell more units to those who think having a phone with the tricolor makes them more patriotic. Also the legality of putting the Indian flag on the phone needs to be questioned.

Only time will tell how things unfold, but if you are lucky enough to get this phone for 251, don’t be disillusioned, its not an example of Indian engineering, but more-so of Indian jugaad and trickery. I hope that I am wrong and this is a company with indeed good intentions and a good product, but it seems very unlikely that its the case.

With no products out till now, the following mission statement might evoke a chuckle :

Established in 2015, Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd. is one of the fastest growing smartphone companies in India. We design and produce smart phones to provide a satisfying mobile experience for users, so that their valuable time is spent doing things/tasks they love, instead of figuring out ways to use the phone.

We have a complete in-house product testing set-up in India. With best-in-class features, Freedom251 is the Indian smartphone brand at highly affordable prices. We are an amazing team of smartphone lovers who collaborate seamlessly to exchange technical and qualitative inputs and create quality products, along with testing at several stages to deliver the ultimate customer experience in its category.

We convert consumers’ needs and insights into amazing products using deep requirement analysis and bridging gap by offering products with superior value through high quality and best-in-class features at an affordable price.


Feb 16

Apple Pay on Iphone 6

I love my Fidelity Amex card, its one of the few cards that gives ungazilimited 2% cashback everywhere, all the time and without any annual fee. The cashback is yours as long as you withdraw into a Fidelity finance account.

I was reading an article wherein someone wanted to force FIA Amex to use Apply Pay, now why the hell would you want to do that. Not only is the Iphone not the defacto standard for CC carrying people, its an extra hop and extra money. This money has to come from somewhere. Apple claims that users, developers and merchants don’t need to be worried. So it leads me to believe that banks will be paying the x% extra on each swipe.

Now I am sure Fidelity is not making a lot of money at the 2% cashback they give me, they anticipate future investments into FIA hence they are providing the 2%. The extra estimated .15% makes it a bigger loss making proposition.

So if you love your credit card cashbacks and want to see them continue, lets appeal Apple to drop the fee on Apple Pay, otherwise I for one will not promote Apple Pay and will never use it and I hope you do that too.

Image: Apple Press

Apr 26

If you have not heard of MetroMile, you can be forgiven. Its a new age insurance company with all the glamour of being a silicon valley startup that has started a pay per mile insurance company. You basically pay more if you drive more. Makes sense, doesnt it ?

Before I move onto the gadget itself, a word of caution there. We cannot endorse the insurance company. For some reason, I could not find any review of MetroMile’s insurance products or their claims process. I even scoured their Facebook page, but unlike traditional insurance companies wherein customers are either complaining or praising staff, there was again no mention of peoples’ experiences with this company.

Metronome-device-palm

Now onto the device itself. MetroMile has developed a device which would be used to track vehicle usage. They call it the Metronome. The device fits into the OBD II port of any modern car and is ready for business. Among the things it tracks are the speed of the vehicle at all times, its GPS location and if there are any problems with the engine or not. The device also displays tripwise and average gas consumption. Any other analytics being extracted by MetroMile are not shown to end users.

The device is mandatory to be placed by all their insurance customers. But worry not, even if you are not a customer you can signup to test out their device. They will send a free unit to you and you can have access to a large variety of reports. I received my device within a week of ordering, it took me 10 minutes to install it into my 2014 Toyota Corolla. After collecting data for a few days, here is what we think of the device.

Continue reading »


Jan 17

With the launch of the overhyped Nexus One , Google have entered the hotly contested mobile phone domain , but is it worth it to buy a Nexus one phone ? Also is it worth it to buy it in the US and import it into India ? The Nexus One has been dubbed as a superphone in many circles but does that justify its price ?

Currently Amazon.com lists the Nexus one phones starting at 680 USD or 31000 Indian Rupees. Add around 3-4 thousand to that and you get the Indian Grey market price of around 35000 rupees for an Unlocked Google Nexus One phone.

Google Nexus one phone in India

Before going into the viability of getting a Google Nexus One imported into India or for that matter asking a relative to bring it, we look at some of its features.

The Google Nexus One runs on the Android operating system, not a lot of Indian smartphones run on Android, heck not a lot of any kind of smart phones run on the Google Android operating system and the Nexus One Google hopes will change all that.

One of the USPs of the Nexus One is said to be its voice command feature for searches and normal phone operation etc. Ok, lets reverse a little, my Nokia Symbian phone does that too and I loaded the Google Symbian app on it a few days ago and it also has voice recognition.

The Google Nexus One boasts of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1 Ghz processor, now thats a lot of computing power for a phone. The touchscreen is  480 by 800 pixel and has a diagonal width of 3.7-inches. The phone has a AMOLED display which people are claiming is out of this world.

The phone has a 5 MegaPixel camera and has a LED flash. The phone features no hardware keyboard like the Iphone which its supposed to kill. The no hardware thing is a turnoff for me. I love the QWERTY on my Nokia E-series phone.

Overall, the Nexus One is one mean performance machine with good parts and excellent performance, but the price is a little out of reach for most people. I would much rather buy a laptop than this, but to each his own, Indian fanboys of the Google Nexus One will surely order one for them. Teardown by Isuppli pegged the cost to manufacture a Google Nexus One at 175 USD.

Its strange how company after company keeps ignoring India as a launch market for smartphones. First it was Apple with its delayed Iphone launches in India and now its Google. Even HTC waits a lot before bringing its obsolete world models into India it seems.


Aug 27

Fans of Apple in India arent happy, well the majority arent, i admit Bhaichung Bhutia looked happy with his Iphone. Apple’s announcement of the Iphone in India turned out to be a huge whimper due to the exhortative pricing strategy employed by Apple with Airtel and Vodafone. Lets admit it, we knew the price wasnt going to be the US price os $199 or 8000 rupees. We were pegging it at 13k-18k rupees which would sort of even justify some of the hype but what was the result is truly a gameplan lost.

We have scores of emails from prospective buyers telling Apple to keep the Iphone with themselves, most cant evven think about spending >30k on a mobile device with a shitty 2 MP camera, no video recording and a 3G USP which isnt even functional yet.

Forums are full of people hitting back at the hype, people are telling Airtel agents to goto hell and stop promoting their iBoxes as iPhones. Iphone fanatics who were certain to purchase the phone have dumped it, quite frankly as they cant afford it.

So who would go for a Nokia N96, Nokia N95 instead of the Iphone ? , the smart money says anyone with a decent amount of brain and anyone who isnt a Steve Jobs obsessed fanboy.

So unless you want to show off your Iphone by pinching a photo to zoom in and zoom out, give the Iphone 3G India a HUGE miss. There is a price drop around the corner for this overpriced piece of junk. Or better, get a laptop instead.


Aug 16

Well you got to give it to Bharti Teleservices, they seem to have beaten Vodafone on the launch date, with Vodafone yet to announce a launch date for the Iphone, Airtel has already announced on its website that its going to launch the Iphone on the 22nd of August and pricing information will be available in due time on the site. I have already signed for the prebooking, but am yet to get any information on the launch  price etc. The only information is available on their website and nowhere else.

So called tech sites like Techtree had claimed a lot of inside sources in Vodafone about the launches (LOL !) , we never had any inside source, only followed developments on websites and hence we weren’t wrong.

It is surprising that Vodafone which had got into an agreement with Apple before Airtel wont get to have the first mover advantage for the Iphone. For the Indian Iphone fan : Exciting times ahead :P