KaiOS: The Cheaper Alternative to Android and iOS for Smartphones

Mobile Operating Systems

You very likely own an Android or an iPhone. These phones are everywhere in our lives, used as tools for a variety of functions, from basic communication to playing games. However, there are places in the world where these operating systems aren’t readily available. Enter KaiOS, a newer mobile OS for phones. It’s already taken over a considerable chunk of the population in India and is popular in many places with little to no smartphone access. 


What Is KaiOS?

kaios splash art for promotional material
Screenshot from KaiOS

First released in 2017, KaiOS is an operating system for phones built around the Firefox OS and running on a web-based platform. The main selling point of this OS is its low memory requirement at 256 MB. Any lower-end phone will be able to run it just fine.

KaiOS was developed by KaiOS Technologies Inc., which is based in San Diego, California. It has since been released in many countries outside the United States, including Canada and India. On top of this, the developers have partnered with various phone manufacturers to use this OS exclusively as well. 

Phones powered by KaiOS include some Nokia phones as well as Micromax and Alcatel phones. This number has been growing recently, motivating larger companies to invest in it. As an example, Google has a vested interest in the future of KaiOS and has invested over $20 million dollars in it.

KaiOS makes your phone work similarly to Android phones, coming with familiar social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. It has all the essentials you need and even allows you to download apps from the app store. 


How Is KaiOS Different From iOS and Android?

kaios functions at a glance
Screenshot from KaiOS

KaiOS operates much like iOS and Android. It has messaging features, an app store, and an internet browser. There are, however, some aspects to this OS that differentiates it from popular operating systems.

For starters, KaiOS has an HTML5-based app store, which makes it easier for tech companies to create apps as compared to Android and iOS. Apps also run much faster on this OS, the result of HTML5 consuming fewer resources than Java-based software.

Additionally, the app store of KaiOS is much more open as well. It has penetrated regions where iOS and Android are sparse, so brands like Nokia and Alcatel have access to it. Developers can also directly upload apps they’ve made onto the app store.


What Apps Are Available on KaiOS?

kaios app categories at a glance
Screenshot from KaiOS

There are quite a few apps that are available. You have all the messaging apps that you need, in addition to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and some Google apps. In particular, Google’s Maps, Search, and Assistant apps are available. These apps only come in their basic versions, which means you can’t do anything too complex with them.

To get other apps, visit the store and browse its wide variety of apps that is split into ten broad categories: Social, Games, Utilities, Lifestyle, News, Shopping, Entertainment, Health, Sports, and Book/Reference. Due to the weaker processing power of KaiOS-operated phones, expect these apps to be smaller in size and have limited functionality.

Even games are minimalistic and small, as the OS is not equipped to handle bigger-name titles like Fortnite and Mobile Legends.


Best Phones That Support KaiOS

If you’re having trouble deciding which KaiOS phone to get, we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of the best KaiOS phones below:


Nokia 8110 4G

Nokia 8110 model, Nokia banana phone
Photo from Wikipedia

Released in April 2018, people know this phone as the Nokia Banana for its design. It’s an old-fashioned Nokia phone that has a 2.4-inch display and a 2-MP rear camera. It is complete with 4 GB of expandable storage and 512 MB of RAM. It currently stands as one of the strongest KaiOS phones out there.

The Nokia Banana has a removable battery and supports 4G networks and WiFi. It’s unique, inexpensive, and quite powerful.

Get it on Amazon


Jio Phone 2

jio phone 2 model front and back
Screenshot from Jio

Like the Nokia Banana, the Jio Phone 2 has 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. This phone dropped just a few months after the Nokia Banana was released. It comes with a 2000-mAh battery and expandable storage. Aside from appearance, it’s not too different from the Nokia Banana.

Go to site


Alcatel Go Flip 2

alcatel go flip 2 handset model
Photo from KaiOS

This phone was the first one to adopt KaiOS. The Alcatel Go Flip 2 was the first phone to prove the worth of this OS and also brought flip phones back from the dead. It boasts a sleek, minimalist design that makes it resemble a vintage phone.

Released in 2017, it’s a bit weaker than both the Nokia Banana and the Jio Phone 2. Nevertheless, this phone gets the job done and is also much cheaper.

Get it on Amazon


Benefits of Using KaiOS

kaios homepage, kaios easy internet
Screenshot from KaiOS

KaiOS is named the sixth-best mobile operating system in the world. It thus goes without saying that it has a lot going for it. In this section, we list down some of the things that make this OS great.


Inexpensive and Useful

KaiOS phones are incredibly cheap. While their lower price tag means that they have lower hardware requirements and capabilities, they still offer plenty of features that make them extremely useful. 

For instance, LTE technology is brought to low-end phones. Instead of LTE carriers sending data streams to every subscriber, KaiOS enables every subscriber in a specific area to have LTE connectivity.

These phones also bring you the latest technology at a fraction of the price that you’d normally pay for regular smartphones. For people in countries where smartphones aren’t accessible, KaiOS is perfect for offering affordable access to internet services.


Simple and Essential Apps

KaiOS has all the essential apps in its repertoire. With messaging apps like WhatsApp and social media apps like Facebook and Twitter, you pretty much don’t need much else. If you’re looking for something minimalist that will fulfill your social media needs, such phones are ideal for you. 

KaiOS is also really easy to use, the result of it requiring just a small amount of memory to run. Additionally, it will almost always support your phone whenever it has software updates. This is different from Android phones, which will stop supporting certain phones after a period of time.


Less Power Consumption

KaiOS phones take up a lot less power than Android and iOS. They don’t need absurd amounts of charging, so you can save electricity. The fact that they allow you to have smartphone functionalities at an extremely low cost while helping you save electricity may be a huge plus for you.

You can use apps like Google Assistant and Maps on a KaiOS phone. Since these phones use smartphone apps, they may be attractive to you if you’re trying to find an emergency phone or are looking for a new one.


Downsides of Using KaiOS

Using car phone holders has its negatives
Photo by johnhain via Pixabay

KaiOS isn’t perfect by any means. As with every other operating system, it has its fair share of flaws.


Lack of App Flexibility

There is a distinct lack of app flexibility. Only generic apps are available, and even then, the apps aren’t necessarily the best. There are still occasional hiccups when you use your phone.

There are also limits imposed on apps and features. Sure, you can use Facebook, but you won’t be able to use all of its functions. You’ll have access to your timeline and all, but no access to the marketplace. These same restrictions apply to every app you’d usually see on regular smartphones.

While KaiOS does have its own app store, most of the apps aren’t comprehensive. Compared to an Android or iOS smartphone, you won’t get apps with extensive features. The most you’ll get are small apps with only one or two features. That means you won’t be getting any big games, either. At most, games will only have the simplest of gameplay mechanics. 

Phones using KaiOS usually have little storage. Coupled with the fact that apps usually have only one function, this means that you need to install more apps with different functions. In the long term, this is bad for storage and can slow down your phone significantly. 


Privacy Issues

KaiOS is a proprietary operating system. What does this mean? Well, it means that data mining is easy. Corporations can insert data mining mechanics into your phone without your knowledge. This potentially puts your privacy is at risk.

The fact that such phones don’t have the capacity for antivirus software means that you might be at risk. This is because apps on the app store are all freely uploaded without moderation, so there’s little to no security about how apps are handled. If a corporation wants to create a predatory app under the guise of having great features, then they may do so without any repercussions.


Operating System Problems

As we’ve stated earlier, KaiOS uses the same software that Mozilla Firefox was based on. However, Firefox software has long been abandoned and hasn’t been improved since the inception of KaiOS. Such phones thus suffer from the same problems that Firefox used to have.

KaiOS phones have low memory, so they can occasionally be slow. This will become a lot more evident if your phone has a lot of apps installed. This makes such phones a lot less durable than smartphones.

Another problem with KaiOS is its updates. Since its software isn’t open-source like Android, it’ll take a lot more time to fix problems that crop up. Your phone stays updated whenever an update drops, but bug patches may take a while. In fact, some people report that it may take weeks or even months to get a patch or a bug fix.

Slow update times are detrimental to KaiOS because many people have complained about their problems with it. On top of being slow at times, the OS itself can be confusing to use sometimes. It can occasionally be unintuitive and annoying to navigate.


Who Is Most Likely to Use KaiOS?

kaios is built for everyone, kaios inclusivity
Screenshot from KaiOS

KaiOS targets regions where smartphones aren’t abundant and/or where older phones are still prevalent. Its easy-to-use interface makes it a friendly alternative OS for countries with lower literacy rates.

Giving your kid a KaiOS phone may be a good start for them. It’s a good way to introduce your child to phones without having to worry about them becoming addicted. You’ll be giving them access to apps their friends are probably already using to help them stay connected.

Senior citizens will also like these phones for their user-friendly interface and internet capabilities.

If you want an extra phone for emergency calls when your phone is dead, then consider getting a KaiOS phone. KaiOS phones are also good for people who are looking to rid themselves of their smartphone addiction. Overall, if you want a change of pace for yourself, then a KaiOS phone may be for you.


The Bottom Line

kaios internet surfing infographic
Screenshot from KaiOS

To summarize, KaiOS is a mobile operating system made primarily for older phones to adapt to modern technology. With KaiOS, you have access to the internet and social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. While KaiOS isn’t perfect, it’s still useful for many people in places where smartphones aren’t widely available.