WhatsApp comes to KaiOS-powered feature phones

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MTN’s smart feature phone, the Smart S.
MTN’s smart feature phone, the Smart S.

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp will be available to affordable smart feature phones that use the KaiOS operating system around the world. In SA, MTN’s feature phone, the Smart S, uses KaiOS.

WhatsApp will be available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices, and most smart feature phones powered by KaiOS will have WhatsApp preinstalled on shipment. KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries.

KaiOS Technologies, maker of KaiOS, made the announcement yesterday. The MTN Smart S device is Internet-capable and allows users to access popular apps such as Facebook, YouTube and Google Assistant. It has a front and back camera, dual SIM, MicroSD slot (up to 32GB) and its battery promises to last for three to five days. It is Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS capable and has FM radio. The phone retails for R249.

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use the app for calling and messaging.

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September last year. With yesterday’s announcement, the app will reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, Latin America and beyond, the company said.

WhatsApp COO Matt Idema said KaiOS has been a critical partner in bringing private messages to smart feature phones around the world.

“Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way,” said Idema.

KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville said the company is thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend this means of communication to a brand new demographic.

“We strive to make the Internet and digital services accessible for everyone, and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities and others across the globe,” he said.

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