What KaiOS phone should I get?
With many KaiOS phones available for purchase, it can be difficult picking the right one for your needs. This article summarizes some of the popular KaiOS devices on the market today, as well as who these devices might best serve.
Disclosure: Some links below are affiliate links. This means that, at no cost to you, I may earn affiliate commission if you click the link and finalize a purchase, which supports this blog financially.
The JioPhone is effectively the #1 (and only) choice for users in India. All JioPhone feature phones, including the BlackBerry-like JioPhone 2, are SIM-locked to Reliance Jio’s network. However, many can have DevTools enabled and get root access. For instance, Qualcomm models can have a custom ROM flashed using the QFIL Tool.
The JioPhone has over 20+ models with various design tweaks and chipsets. As of April 2023, the only models for sale are the F320B, aka the “JioPhone Value”, which does not include Wi-Fi, and the difficult to find F300B, aka the JioPhone 2. Depending on your needs, you may need to look after market for a used JioPhone model.
Nokia 8110 4G (Developers)
Nokia 8110 4G, aka the “Banana Phone” or the “Matrix Phone” is iconic, easily-recognizable, and one of the best options for developers. That’s because it is
easily unlocked to enable DevTools simply by dialing the code
*#*#33284#*#*. You can also get root access by sideloading
Wallace Toolbox, enable Unrestricted DevTools, unlock the bootloader, flash custom ROMs, and more.
Note: there is a variant of the Nokia 8110 4G for Jio in India, but it’s difficult to find, and it more locked down than the International variant.
Flagship KaiOS 3.0 Devices (US only)
Alcatel Go Flip 4 (T-Mobile)
The Alcatel Go Flip 4 was one of the debug KaiOS 3.0 devices in the US. It’s carrier-locked to the T-Mobile network, although it can be unlocked after 180 days of continuous use. The GF4 is a great choice for seniors because it is simple to use, has large tacile buttons, and offers a smoother experience than older KaiOS 2.5 phones. The GF4 is the successor of the Alcatel Go Flip 3, which was Unlocked and KaiOS 2.5. Both are very similar in size and form factor, but the GF4 has better internals and runs a more modern version of KaiOS.
TCL Flip Pro (Verizon)
The TCL Flip Pro is the Verizon counterpart to the Alcatel Go Flip 4, as one of the debug KaiOS 3.0 flip phones in the US. Similar to the GF4, the TCL Flip Pro is also a good choice for seniors and digital detoxers because of its ease of use and smooth performance.
Nokia Flip Phones
Nokia 2720 Flip (Unlocked)
Nokia 2720 Flip is one of the best KaiOS devices for usability, due to its large keys and display, features like screenshots using key combos
#, dedicated volume buttons, Google Assistant, and ability to
enable DevTools (on certain OS versions). It runs KaiOS 2.5.2, has a long battery life, and comes Unlocked for use on any GSM carrier.
Nokia 2760 Flip (Under $30)
For under $30, it’s hard to beat the Nokia 2760 Flip. There are several variants, and all are locked to budget pre-paid carriers like Total by Verizon and Tracfone. That said, they comes with a 5MP camera, 1.3GHz Quad-Core CPU, 4-32GB storage, Wi-Fi, and KaiOS 3.1. Because it is so affordable and feature rich, the Nokia 2760 Flip is a great choice for digital detoxers and first time KaiOS users in the US.
Nokia 2780 Flip (Unlocked, Flip)
The Nokia 2780 is an unlocked flip phone running KaiOS 3.1 that works on T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. It is almost indistinguishable from the Nokia 2760 Flip in apperance, except the Nokia 2780 is not carrier locked. There are side-by-side comparisons of the Nokia 2760 and 2780 if you’d like to learn more.
Nokia 6300 4G (Unlocked, Candybar)
The Nokia 6300 4G is popular for its candybar form factor. Like most Nokia’s, it comes Unlocked for use on all GSM carriers and works as a Wi-Fi Hotspot. It also runs KaiOS 2.5.4, one of the more modern sub-versions of the operating system.
Nokia 800 Tough
The Nokia 800 Tough is a rugged device running KaiOS 2.5.2. Unless updated to KaiOS 18.104.22.168, it can be rooted and is one of the most rugged KaiOS phones on the market. That said, the battery is not removeable and some users have complained about the small button size.
Similar to the Nokia 800 tough, the CAT B35 is a rugged KaiOS phone. The Developer menu cannot be accessed using the W2D method I discovered, instead it is more complicated and requires flashing via Qualcomm’s EDL Mode. The B35 is drop proof, dust proof, and waterproof, comes pre-installed with Google Assistant, and runs KaiOS 2.5.1.
|JioPhone||2.5+ 1||India||EDL/SPD Tools|
|Nokia 8110 4G||2.5.1||International|
|Alcatel Go Flip 4||3.0||USA||N/A 2|
|TCL Flip Pro||3.0||USA||N/A 2|
|Nokia 2720 Flip||2.5.1||International|
|Nokia 2760 Flip||3.1||USA||N/A 2|
|Nokia 2780 Flip||3.1||USA||N/A 2|
|Nokia 6300 4G||2.5.4||International|
|Nokia 800 Tough||2.5.2||International|
1 Note: All JioPhone models except the JioPhone Value (F320B) include WiFi.
2 Note: KaiOS 3.0+ devices are US-only and do not allow DevTools and have not been rooted as of April 2023.
With two major KaiOS versions (2.5 and 3.0), several methods for accessing DevTools and root, and dozens of devices to choose from, it’s difficult to know what KaiOS phone is right for you. Here I have summarized popular choices, with some background to guide your decision. Generally speaking, Nokia is the top choice for developers since devices made by HMD Global allow easy access to DevTools (except for KaiOS 3.0+ devices).