MTN unveils super-cheap 3G feature phone running KaiOS

MTN has announced a partnership with China Mobile, chipmaker Unisoc, and software developer KaiOS to launch a 3G “smart feature phone” for Africa.

Speaking at AfricaCom, MTN CEO Rob Shuter said the phone will be brought in at a cost of $20 (R290).

It will include rear and front-facing cameras, and key Google applications which run on KaiOS. These include 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.

Schuter said MTN plans to launch the device in the first quarter of 2019 across nearly all its markets in Africa.

No brand name has been decided for the device as yet. Shuter joked that he is addicted to acronyms, so he looked at the names of the companies — MTN, Unisoc, China Mobile, and KaiOS — for inspiration.

“All I came up with was MUCK, which won’t win any marketing awards,” Shuter said.

MTN aims to sell 10 million devices over the next three years, bringing many new subscribers into the MTN fold in the process.

South Africa will be one of the countries where MTN will roll out the device, with Shuter saying that a large portion of its South African subscribers would benefit from such a device.

“Even though South Africa is more advanced in terms of 4G penetration, there is still a large number of users who use our 3G network,” Shuter said.

MTN China Mobile Unisoc KaiOS 3G smart feature phone MUCK signing ceremony
Signing ceremony for the 3G smart feature phone partnership.
MTN China Mobile Unisoc KaiOS 3G smart feature phone MUCK 1
3G smart feature phone.

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MTN unveils super-cheap 3G feature phone running KaiOS