How a KaiOS-powered Device Is Made

In this blog post, we’ll shine a spotlight on the collaboration that takes place between manufacturers, carriers, content developers, and the team here at KaiOS Technologies, to bring our affordable, smart feature phones to market.

 

Unfortunately, you can’t take a “dumb” phone from 10 years ago and make it smart by installing KaiOS. The devices that run our operating system are designed from the ground up to be experience-rich feature phones, and Kai’s developers work closely with our partners to ensure the integration is seamless. Our partners include: 

  • Chipset makers, like Qualcomm and Unisoc 
  • Manufacturers, like HMD and TCL, many of whom are located in Shenzhen (China) 
  • The partners of our manufacturers, who provide them with all the components, such as the screen, keypad, and memory 
  • Carriers, like Reliance Jio, Orange, and MTN, who place the orders with the manufacturers and often have particular requirements for the specifications of the device 

Teams at all of these different companies need to work together in order to bring a new device to market. Usually this process takes about six months, but we’ve done it in as short as three months. Ultimately, the development time depends on the unique requirements the customer has for a device, as well as on the manufacturing volume.   

 

An essential element in this process is standard support for KaiOS within the chipsets. Chipsets are the engine of any computer, including modern mobile phones. By having standard support for KaiOS in certain chipsets, it is easier for our partners to design and develop their device.  

 

KaiOS is currently supported by default on the following chipsets: 

  • Qualcomm 205 (MSM8905) 
  • Qualcomm 210 (MSM8909) 
  • Unisoc SC9820A 
  • Unisoc SC9820E 
  • Unisoc SC7731EF 

 

Hardware customization/Phone specs 

Once the chipset has been decided on, our partners can customize their device. There’s an extensive “menu” of options our partners can choose from. Some examples include: 

  • 3G or 4G/LTE 
  • 256M/512M RAM/ROM, or 512M/4G RAM/ROM 
  • Wi-Fi  
  • GPS 
  • Single or dual SIM 
  • NFC support for mobile payments 
  • Single camera (on the back), or dual camera (both front and back) 

All these choices affect the production price of a KaiOS-powered device, and so it’s usually a trade-off between functionality and affordability. 

 

Software customization 

With the hardware specifications finalized, it’s time to look at the OS itself. We don’t white-label KaiOS, so several elements are mandatory for all our partners: 

  • A “Powered by KaiOS” screen on launching the phone 
  • The KaiStore must be pre-loaded on the right top corner of the first screen 
  • Several utility apps (e.g., calculator) need to be pre-loaded on the phone 

In addition to our R&D team in Taipei, the Sales Operation team in Shanghai plays a key role. Here, engineers are dedicated to working closely with manufacturers and carriers to tweak the OS to their needs and bring it to market. The UX team also ensures that the OS works with the partner’s brand while still maintaining essential KaiOS elements, and the Marketing team supports in the preparation of going to market. It’s truly a company-wide effort. 

 

Besides these requirements, we work with our partners to tailor the software to their needs. For example, we can pre-install their apps, adjust colors and styling, or enable certain features in the software (e.g., hotspot). 

 

Go to market 

The above process of hardware design and software adjustments takes anywhere between three and nine months, depending on the exact requirements from our partners. Toward the end of this trajectory, we start supporting our partners in their go-to-market strategy. This involves working on packaging design, preparing materials for retail stores, and supporting any advertising they might want to do, either online or offline. 

 

Besides ensuring all brands are represented together in the right way, and adhering to everyone’s visual and style guidelines as best as possible, this also involves getting approvals on logo and trademark usage from other third parties that are involved, such as Facebook or Google. We help our partners with this process by acting as the main interface between content partners and the carriers and/or manufacturers. 

 

To sum up 

Launching a new device is never a simple feat, especially since it involves collaborating with so many different parties. Nevertheless, we’ve already brought over 50 million KaiOS-powered devices to market together with our partners, in just a bit over one year! 

 

If you’re interested in launching a KaiOS-powered device, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on Twitter or by email on partnerships@kaiostech.com. We’d be happy to answer your questions and explore how we can work together. 

 

 

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There are 21 Comments

  1. Ben

    You mention that the KaiStore is a requirement for a KaiOS powered phone, but you have released multiple phones in the United States that do not have the KaiStore. What issues must be overcome in order to bring the KaiStore to the US market?

    • Kai Helps

      Hi Ben, thank you for the question. We totally understand your concern here. As much as we’d love to help, KaiOS is working with the device manufacturers & carriers and they may determine if the KaiStore is available on the device. Thus, we recommend contacting your device manufacturer or carrier regarding this matter.

  2. Valeriy

    You have put wrong picture of maxcom phone!

  3. syedasif

    i purchased nokia 8110 trusting that kaios will bring whatsapp still now there no any news after announcing so kindly could be give me any update on this subject.

    • Kai Helps

      Hi there! WhatsApp is currently available in India, and we are working together with the WhatsApp team to introduce it in other regions. We don’t have a set release date yet, so we hope for your patience and understanding in this matter.

    • Kathir

      Wait bro! In india we have a basic version of whatsapp! Just sending messages, pics, videos, voice mesages. We still not getting update for setting status, and viewing status

  4. Keith

    I have a Nokia 8110 4G. As yet you can’t add words to the dictionary making predictive input useless. Also there is no setting for blocking nuisance calls. Is this going to be addressed as most ordinary feature phones have this these features as standard. WhatsApp is required to offer a real alternative to people who don’t want a smartphone. Can you give a time scale when or if this app will be released.

    • Kai Helps

      Hi Keith! Our product team is aware of the requirements you have commented upon, and we hope to improve KaiOS basing on them in the near future. As for WhatsApp, it is only available in India only, and we are doing our best together with the WhatsApp team to introduce to other regions. There’s no ETA for that available, so we hope you keep an eye on our blog here.

  5. Aravind

    Hi Team,
    I purchased the JioPhone2 with the intention of using that for all my day to day needs of socializing and entertainment.But unfortunately,apart from Whatsapp,there is no Twitter,Zomato,Uber,PayTM or Tiktok which are some of the apps that I use on a day to day basis.Also the Google Maps app is not accurate and it is never able to detect my present location.The no. of productivity apps are very low and the PDF reader doesn’t allow zooming in the document,thereby rendering it useless.I urge you to resolve these issues at the earliest.

    • Atheist

      You can zoom in and out using 1 and 3 buttons in the pdf app. You can also access twitter via the browser. To resolve the maps issue, disable and enable geo location, and click “your location” on the app.

    • Aman Kumar

      Actually the pdf viewer does allow zooming. Also some apps like TikTok and Uber are too complex to be on a non-touchscreen phone.

  6. AtheistComrade

    On the notification bar of my jiophone, at left corner, there is a digit(usually2, but sometimes 3) displayed with a ring around it right next to “jio4g”. What does it represent?

  7. J

    I would really need an image of KaiOS supporting touchscreen and the components of an Nokia N9 anno 2011. Let me know if u guys got something like that

    • Kai Helps

      Hi Jesper, thank you for your comment here. To stay tuned on our news and announcements, feel free to check our blog – there’s surely more to follow.

  8. JS QT

    Is there any plan to open source KaiOS, or components of it like Android? KaiOS could be a perfect aftermarket operating system for smartphones which no longer receive updates. The low RAM usage could be a huge improvement in the experience on such phones, and would help eliminate e-waste caused by planned obsolescence of otherwise perfectly functional, but old, phones.

    • Kai Helps

      Hi! Please note that we cannot comment on specific updates and/or release plans. However, thank you for your advise! I will pass it to our product team.

  9. Stadni

    Hi,
    I have a Nokia 8110 4G. Is there any possibility to open pdf docs? Currently there ist no app in the store or on the device. And what about a file explorer?
    Thanks for any answer… 🙂

    • Kai Helps

      As of now, there’s no PDF reader/viewer app in the KaiStore. The File manager is supported by KaiOS indeed, however, we work with OEMs (the device manufacturers) and they may choose to change some of baseline features. If you cannot find it under your app menu, please reach out to HMD/Nokia directly.

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