New handset makes internet connectivity and advanced digital services affordable for everyone
13 November 2018 – Today, at the annual AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, the CEO of MTN Group, CEO of KaiOS Technologies Inc., Executive Vice President of China Mobile Communications Group Co., Ltd., and Executive Vice President of UNISOC announced a partnership to launch the world’s first 3G smart feature phone in Africa, powered by KaiOS.
The new product will allow customers to upgrade from a feature phone with only voice and text capabilities, to a fully connected handset with fast, 3G internet. Because of the competitive pricing of the device, access to advanced digital services is finally a reality for everyone.
Of the partnership, Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN, said, “As MTN we are proud to be part of this partnership that supports our ambitions to deepen digital inclusion in our markets. This initiative contributes to the achievement of one of our key goals to provide affordable data enabled handsets to our customers, and by so doing, remove some of the barriers to mobile internet adoption in Africa.”
The new smart feature phone runs on KaiOS — the world’s leading operating system for smart feature phones — and includes the following features and services:
Fast internet access through Wi-Fi and 3G
Bluetooth connectivity and GPS for navigation
The Google Assistant and other smart services
The KaiStore, home to the world’s most popular apps and localized content
2 cameras, as well as music and video streaming services
Long battery life 2000mah
Dual SIM support
“With 834 million people still unconnected to the internet in Africa, today’s launch with MTN, UNISOC and China Mobile stands to have a significant impact on communities across the continent,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “MTN has one of the largest customer bases in the region, and coupled with KaiOS, we’re taking an important step toward closing the digital divide on the continent.”
KaiOS already powers close to 50 million smart feature phones globally, including in the USA, Canada, India, China, and several countries in Europe. It has overtaken iOS as the second most popular mobile operating system in India (based on data usage) and is at the forefront of connecting the next billion users by enabling devices that provide affordable mobile internet access.
The 3G smart feature phone will initially be available from MTN in Nigeria and South Africa, followed very shortly by the other MTN operations in Africa as well as the Middle East. The new product will retail between $20-$25, which is relatively affordable compared to the price of other devices across the African continent.
Li Huidi, Executive Vice President of China Mobile Communications Group Co., Ltd, said, “As the largest Telecom Operator in China, we have made fruitful attempts at rapidly promoting business development through device customization. We hope to share our experiences in this regard with international operator partners, and help them expand market presence through device customization, thus delivering the dividend of reliable mobile networks to more users.”
“As the largest operator in Africa, MTN Group has achieved excellent progress. China Mobile is very honoured to be MTN’s strategic and cooperative partner, and is willing to provide customized integrated device solutions to MTN. Jointly, we can provide intelligent connectivity for the multi-billion market in Africa, and help to promote the digitalization of the continent.”
Through the efforts of all parties, this product will help convert African 2G users to 3G, allowing African people to enjoy high-speed mobile networks. The new smart feature phone is powered by the UNISOC SC7731EF, the first 3G smart chipset with up to 256MB RAM. The device has a 2.4’ screen, 256MB/512MB RAM/ROM, a 2000MAH battery, and supports dual SIM. It will be available starting from the first quarter of 2019.
“UNISOC has been in the African market for over 10 years and every year more than 100 million mobile phones powered by UNISOC chips are sold in Africa.” said Adam Zeng, Executive Vice President of Unigroup and CEO of UNISOC., “UNISOC is glad to partner with MTN, China Mobile and KaiOS, and together we will continue to invest more to fill in the gaps in the mobile communications and IoT fields in African markets. With customized solutions and excellent services, we will create a rich and diversified mobile ecosystem for Africa that will enable more than 1 billion African consumers to connect intelligently.”