Namotel promoter Madhava Reddy at a press conference in Bengaluru on Tuesday reportedly marketed the world's cheapest smartphone, the Namotel Achhe Din, for just Rs. 99.
Priced at Rs. 2,999, the 3G-enabled smartphone will reportedly be made available for bookings between May 17 and May 25 at its special launch price. However, the exact booking process is not clear. You need to sign up for a service called BeMyBanker to proceed with the booking, and also to provide details about your Aadhaar and your photograph, but BeMyBanker's website is not loading at present.
It is available on a cash-on-delivery basis *with "nominal delivery charges." The company's website adds, "This model is limited and it is applicable only for India and who holds Aadhar Identity." The number of units available has not been announced, or precise delivery dates.
The company website lists four other smartphones as well, ranging from Rs. 1,999 for the 4G LTE-enabled Aazadi to Rs. 1,99,999 for the VVIP luxury smartphone.
As per a PTI report in the Financial Express, Reddy claimed that at its launch price, the Namotel Achhe Din is the "world's cheapest phone with a 4-inch display". Other specifications include Android 5.1 Lollipop, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and 1GB RAM.
While a smartphone is shown alongside the Namotel Achhe Din listing on the company website, the listing also says, "Pictures shown in the website is for illustration purposes only," casting some doubt on the credibility of the company and product.
Not much is known about Namotel at this point, and it appears to be a Bengaluru-headquartered startup that began operations in 2016. The company on its 'About Us' page claims it was established under the auspices of the 'Make in India' campaign. It also claims to have offices in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Chennai, and adds, "We aim to create [a] new business model with sustained profitability and high sales growth since the very first year of operations. Namotel will be on the path of an ambitious journey to becoming India's first consumer brand, empowering people with quality innovative products."
This is of course not the first ultra-low priced smartphone with seemingly incredible specifications being marketed in India. The Docoss X1 was the latest example. The smartphone segment saw a buzz in February when Ringing Bells launched its Freedom 251 smartphone at just Rs. 251. The smartphone made headlines for a few weeks, and caught attention of the entire world. Freedom 251 from Noida-based startup Ringing Bells however soon lost its sheen.
The smartphone was surrounded by controversies that even lead to an FIR registered against the makers. The biggest highlight of the smartphone was its pricing rather than any specifications under the hood. The company received close to 60 million registrations in few days but after taking initial bookings for the handset, the Freedom 251 makers announced pre-booking money to be refunded to users and also confirmed that it would take cash on delivery, upon delivery. The first orders will supposedly be delivered in June.
Later, another India-based brand - mPhone - made headlines about its range of smartphones, offering great specifications at good prices. Unlike with Ringing Bells, the controversy surrounding the makers of the mPhone 'Mango' smartphones was due to the financial state of the proprietors, who were reportedly arrested at the launch of the brand in India for bank fraud.