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Explore KaiOS phones, the new generation of smart feature phones

KaiOS is a light operating system designed to run on non-touch, basic phones, also commonly called feature phones. The operating system adds basic smart functionalities like apps, app store, 4G Internet, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, and others. As such, KaiOS phones are a middle ground between feature phones and smartphones. Which is why they are called smart feature phones.

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KaiOS is a mobile operating system for dirt-cheap basic feature phones with a small screen and alphanumeric keypad, and it has 3rd party apps. The operating system even has a voice assistant. It also supports 4G LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and gets software updates OTA. All on a phone that looks like this:

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Jio Phone
A KaiOS-powered smart feature phone. Photo source: Reuters

The above is the Jio Phone, and it is selling like hot cake in India. It has done so well that the feature phone market in India is over-running the smartphone market there.

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Like feature phones, smart feature phones have a small display and an alphanumeric keypad, and like smartphones, they have internet access, Wi-Fi, GPS, and apps. KaiOS is based on HTML5, with support for JavaScript. Most of the basic apps are available already, and work is under way to add more. Some of the popular apps that are available on KaiOS include: WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Assistant, among others.

You can only run one app at a time, but then you would have to be suicidal to want to multitask on a basic phone with 512 MB RAM. But being able to use your email, Facebook, Twitter, maps, stream music and TV shows, among other activities on a bottom-of-the-pyramid feature phone is a whole new level of accessibility unlocked.

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The App Stores

Reliance Jio already have their own app store, called JioStore, running to provide Jio Phone apps for users. The company behind KaiOS is scheduled to launch the generic app store, KaiStore, for all phones running the OS. The launch should happen this month of May 2018.

In addition, KaiOS phones have a built-in email client, web browser, calendar, and support Google Contacts, so you can sign in with Google and import your contacts. It does not support contacts synchronization, though; only importing.

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones have become popular in countries with low smartphone penetration. India is the biggest market for KaiOS phones, where the operating system comes behind only Android OS.

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KaiOS for smart feature phones

The Latest KaiOS Mobile Phones

  • GHIA GQWERTY is a 3G smart feature phone
  • Nokia 2760 Flip is a 4G smart feature phone
  • Jazz Digit 4G Music
  • Jazz Digit 4G Power

List of Older KaiOS Phones

Some of the world’s leading mobile brands and network operators are involved in making KaiOS phones. These brands include: Reliance Jio, Nokia, Alcatel, Energizer, TECNO, and MTN. Here are some popular KaiOS-powered phones already on sale around the world:

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kaios phones are a new generation of smart feature phones

Why are these new 4G feature phones selling so well? They are bringing the digital lifestyle to people who earn little. With price tags around $25 (roughly ₦9,000), they are exactly what the doctor ordered for billions of people around the world. The Jio Phone is described as a fatal blow for cheap smartphone makers in THIS Reuters article.

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More KaiOS phones are being announced. In the meantime, the KaiOS platform keeps developing and becoming more capable, thanks to massive investment and support by tech giants like Reliance Jio, Google, Facebook, and others.

For example, Google has invested in KaiOS. This is a major signal, as the company acknowledges that the new operating system is a force to reckon with in reaching billions of people around the world who do not own or use smartphones. Welcome to the world of smart feature phones.

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1 thought on “Explore KaiOS phones, the new generation of smart feature phones”

  1. my husband bought a new Kaios flip phone at our local AT&T store, but it did not come with any instructions on how to change ring tones, or add new phone numbers, or anything else. How do I find the settings for the ring tones ? Thanks,
    Lynda Corbridge

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