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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
- MTN Smart T (KaiOS Smart Feature Phone)
- Geo Phone T15
- Alcatel Go Flip 3 aka SMARTFLIP
- TECNO T901
- Jio Phone 2
- Reliance Jio Phone
- Nokia 8110 4G
- Energizer E241
- Energizer E241S
- DIXON XK1
- Akeza 4G
- myPhone Up Smart LTE
- Nokia 6300 4G (2020)
- Nokia 8000 4G (2020)
List of Nokia KaiOS phones
Listed below are all the Nokia phones running KaiOS.
- Nokia 8110 4G
- Nokia 800 Tough
- Nokia 6300 4G
- Nokia 8000 4G
- Nokia 2720 Flip
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.
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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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.