Freetel is a Japanese wireless carrier that also develops and manufactures Android smartphones. The company was established in 2012 and began selling its first batch of smartphones in 2013. The brand’s focus is the budget segment of the market.
Made by Japan; Built in China
As is the case with many other smartphone brands, manufacturing of Freetel mobile phones is done in China. The design and quality control is handled by Freetel. As a result, the brand has a set of compelling mobile devices on offer. Plus One Marketing handles distribution and sales of their products.
Freetel Prepaid Phones Go International
Japanese brands haven’t done well in the international smartphone market over the years. Japan’s biggest mobile phone brand, Sony Mobile, has struggled to make profits. However, Freetel is hoping to change Japan’s luck on the global map and began a push to sell internationally in 2015.
In 2016, Freetel prepaid phones were introduced into the US smartphone market when the 6-inch Kiwami flagship phablet was launched. In Africa, their smartphones are currently available in Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria. The first device it introduced into Nigeria is the ICE 2 smartphone (phone specifications here and phone review here).
Since the international operation started, the brand’s mobile phones have been sold in 20 countries across Asia, North America, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. The company is hoping to sell 10 million handsets overall in the 2018 financial year.
The Financial Struggles of Freetel
However, all has not been rosy. Reports say that Freetel’s mobile phone business has not been profitable and has been posting losses. It has been reported that it may be purchased by Rakuten. Rakuten is a Japanese giant that is into e-commerce. Rakuten operates in 29 countries and regions and is on Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies List.
If the deal goes through, Rakuten will pay about USD 4.6 million for the struggling mobile phone business in November 2017.
2022 Update: Freetel was acquired in 2018 by Maya Systems, for an undisclosed amount. The company continues to operate with its brand name under Maya Systems.
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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.