KaiOS is working on WhatsApp for devices powered by its feature phone operating system, including the new 3G “smart feature phone” recently announced by MTN.
This is according to KaiOS Technologies CEO Sebastien Codeville, who was responding to questions at the phone’s unveiling at AfricaCom.
The phone, which has yet to be named, is the result of a partnership between MTN, China Mobile, Unisoc, and KaiOS. It is set to go on sale during the first quarter of 2019.
WhatsApp is already available on JioPhone, a KaiOS-powered feature phone from India which supports LTE networks and voice over LTE calling.
This means the app for KaiOS has already been developed, Codeville said, and they are now working on bringing WhatsApp to their platform globally.
“You will see some things in the coming months,” Codeville said.
MTN said that its new 3G KaiOS feature phone will be available in most of the markets where it operates, including South Africa, during the first quarter of 2019.
It will feature rear and front-facing cameras, and key Google applications which run on KaiOS such as Search, Maps, Assistant, and YouTube.
The device will also feature a 2,000mAh battery, offering up to two weeks of standby time and 2-5 days of life under average usage.
MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter said that they will land the phone at a cost price of $20 (R290), and aim to sell 10 million of them over the next three years, bringing many new subscribers into the MTN fold in the process.
The fact that the device will support 3G connectivity, and is set to receive WhatsApp, at such a low price will make it an attractive options for many South Africans.
This includes users who cannot afford a smartphone, and those who want a cheap secondary phone.