“The Elegant and Elegance are quintessentially entry-level offerings, and don’t have any USP unlike their sibling, the Freedom 251”
It doesn’t take a genius to understand Ringing Bells’ Guerrilla marketing strategy – trying to ride on the popularity of its cheap smartphone, the Freedom 251 (hands on) – to sell its other devices. While only a few people will be able to get their hands on the Rs 251 phone, the company wants to entice consumers with its other offerings, including an HD LED TV, two smartphones and four feature phones. While the 32-inch LED TV was out of our sight as soon as the launch event got over, we were able to check out the new Android-based phones – Elegant and Elegance. Here’s how we will sum up our brief experience with them.
Not just their names, the new smartphones from Ringing Bells also share a lot of hardware specifications. Their price tags are also quite similar – the Elegant will set you back by Rs 3,990, while the Elegance costs Rs 4,490.
Both the smartphones are built around 5-inch displays, and hence remain compact. They nestle in the hands well, and we were easily able to reach corners with a single hand. The Ringing Bells Elegant and Elegance are also quite lightweight and feature slim frames.
Built from plastic, the devices offer decent build quality. While the Elegant is available in multiple colours with our demo unit sporting a classy blue hue, the Elegance is available in white with a black strip running along its edges. This results in Elegant looking more ‘elegant’ than its slightly pricier sibling, the Elegance.
The fascia on both the handsets is dominated by the display panel, which is sandwiched by an earpiece and a few sensors above, and a row of capacitive keys at the bottom. The power button is placed on the right edge, while the left spine sports the volume rocker.
The base is home to the primary microphone and a speaker grille, whereas the 3.5mm audio socket and the micro-USB port are available up top.
The back panels on the Ringing Bells Elegant and Elegance feature smooth finishes. They're quite minimal and sport the primary cameras along with LED flash units, and the branding further below. Prying them open reveals the removable batteries along with exposing SIM slots and microSD card slots.
The 5-inch displays on the mobile phones are 720p affairs, which is pretty good considering their price segment. With the IPS displays, you get sharp text and vivid colours in both phones, and brightness levels also seem to be pretty good.
Under the hood, both the Ringing Bells Elegant and Elegance come powered by 1.3GHz quad-core processors, which is paired with a gigabyte of RAM. During our time with both smartphones, they delivered smooth usage, although there was noticeable lag while switching between apps. 8GB of memory on board takes care of storage requirements. You can extend the available storage further with the use of a microSD card – up to 32GB supported.
Interestingly enough, the Ringing Bells Elegant comes with the latest iteration of Android, i.e., Marshmallow, whereas the pricier Elegance runs older 5.1 Lollipop build. What’s even more strange is the fact that the former features a stock interface, while latter seems to have a custom skin. The interface also has a throwback to the JellyBean era of Android, thanks to the search bar on the homescreen.
In the camera department, the Ringing Bells Elegant and Elegance offer 8-megapixel snappers at the back, supplemented by LEDs for flash. At the front, they flaunt 3.2MP cameras for capturing selfies. The devices come with Google camera app, which offers minimal interface and regular modes like HDR and panorama. In terms of video, the phones support 1080p video recording, which is admirable.
Both the devices also differ in the battery capacities. While the Ringing Bells Elegant is juiced up by 2,500mAh battery, its sibling draws power from a 2,800mAh unit.
Another difference between the smartphones arise in the connectivity front. The Ringing Bells Elegant comes with the usual options including 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, whereas the pricier Elegance also brings the 4G VoLTE compatibility to the mix.
If Ringing Bells had launched these phones without first showcasing the elusive Freedom 251, then perhaps we would have viewed the Elegant and Elegance from a different lens. But knowing the fact that Ringing Bells has created much hullaballoo around the most affordable smartphone in the world and has made tall claims such as contributing to the Digital India initiative, we fail to see how the new offerings fit that criteria. Add to it the fact that at this price bracket, you can get similar options from established brands like Micromax and Intex, and it becomes even more difficult to recommend the Elegant and Elegance.
Having said that, one thing seems quite clear – these phones were Ringing Bells main plan all along, and the Freedom 251 seems more like a ploy to gain attention. This becomes more apparent when you take a look at the official website, as it doesn’t mention the Freedom 251 at all on the front page. Maybe we have a new contender on the horizon for the entry-level segment, so we will surely check these phone in our review, so stay tuned.