KaiOS is a mobile operating system, based on Linux, for keypad feature phones. It is developed by KaiOS Technologies (Hong Kong) Limited; a company based in Kowloon, Hong Kong, with largest shareholder being Chinese multinational electronics conglomerate TCL Corporation. KaiOS is forked from B2G OS (Boot to Gecko OS), an open source community-driven fork of Firefox OS, which was discontinued by Mozilla in 2016.
The primary features of KaiOS bring support for 4G LTE E, VoLTE, GPS, and Wi-Fi; with HTML5-based apps and longer battery life to non-touchscreen devices with optimised user interface, less memory and energy consumption. It also features over-the-air updates (OTA updates). A dedicated app marketplace (KaiStore) enables users to download mobile applications, or ‘apps’. Some services are preloaded as HTML5 applications, including Facebook and YouTube. As of 1 April 2020, there are 500+ apps in KaiStore. The mobile operating system is comparatively lightweight on hardware resource usage, and is able to run on devices with just 256 megabytes (MB) of memory.
The operating system first appeared in 2017, and is developed by KaiOS Technologies Inc., a Kowloon, Hong Kong-based company headed by CEO Sebastien Codeville, with offices in other countries. In June 2018, Google invested US$22 million in the operating system. India-based telecom operator Reliance Jio also invested $7 million for a 16% stake in the company. In May 2019, KaiOS raised an additional US$50 million from Cathay Innovation, and previous investors Google and TCL Holdings.
In market share study results announced in May 2018, KaiOS beat Apple’s iOS for second place in India, while Android dominates with 71%, albeit down by 9%. KaiOS growth is being largely attributed to the popularity of the competitively-priced Jio phone. In Q1 2018, 23 million KaiOS devices were released.
Devices that are installed with KaiOS are:
- Alcatel Go Flip (known as Cingular Flip 2 on AT&T, Alcatel MyFlip on TracFone Wireless) and 3088X
- Reliance Jio‘s JioPhone, F10Q, F101K, F120B, F220B, F211S, F221S, F250Y, F271I, F30C, F41T, F50Y, F61F, F81E, F90M, LF-2401, LF-2402, LF-2403, LF-2403N, all branded as LYF, JioPhone 2, F300B, F310B, JioPhone lite, F320B
- HMD Global‘s Nokia 8110 4G, 2720 Flip, 800 Tough, 6300 4G, 8000 4G
- Energizer Energy E220, E220S, E241, E241S and Hardcase H241, H242, H280S
- Doro 7010, 7030, 7050, 7060
- Cat B35
- Maxcom MK241, MK281
- WizPhone WP006, launched in Indonesia in partnership with Google and Alfamart.
- MTN 3G phone (MTN Smart S 3G)
- Positivo P70S (Brazil)
- Multilaser ZAPP (Brazil)
- Tecno T901
- Jazz Digit 4G (Pakistan)
- Orange Sanza 2, Sanza XL
- Kitochi 4G Smart
- Vodacom Smart Kitochi (Vida), Vodacom Smart Kitochi (Azumi)
- QMobile 4G Plus (Pakistan)
- GeoPhone T15 (Bangladesh)
- GeoPhone T19 (Bangladesh)
- GeoPhone T19i (Bangladesh)
- Sigma mobile X-Style S3500 sKai (Ukraine)
As of February 2018, KaiOS Technologies has partnered with Mozilla, Airfind, Facebook, Google, Bullitt, Doro, HMD Global, Micromax, NXP, Spreadtrum, Qualcomm, Jio, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Orange S.A.
In March 2020, KaiOS Technologies partnered with Mozilla to bring the modern version of Gecko browser engine to future KaiOS builds.
With the release of the Nokia 8110 4G, an active community around both KaiOS and the phone arose and released the first version of a jailbreak. This gave users the ability to use old Firefox OS apps on KaiOS devices, as well as flashing their devices with community-created ROMs, such as GerdaOS.