Indosat Ooredoo and Advan release a new low-end feature phone with a KaiOS operating system that offers Android-like features. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

Can This $32 Smart Feature Phone Digitalize Tech Novices?


DECEMBER 11, 2019

Solo. Mobile service provider Indosat Ooredoo and local smartphone brand Advan have launched a feature phone aimed at the low-end market called the Online Handphone-4G Smart Feature Phone.

The 2.4-inch phone, which resembles an old-school mobile phone, is embedded with the Android-like operating system-KaiOS. KaiOS powers "dumb phones" with high-speed 4G internet, GPS, WiFi and voice command, turning them into pseudo smartphones.

On this feature phone, tech novices can use WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Assistant and Google Maps. The OS also has its own store, the KaiStore.

"We want to digitalize people who are just starting to use smartphones and who like the basic features of a phone but are not used to touchscreens," Radhia Bendhifi, the senior vice president of retail and device management at Indosat Ooredoo, said at the phone's launch in Solo, Central Java, on Wednesday.

Other than a fast 4G connection, the phone also has a WiFi HotSpot feature that could connect with as many as 11 devices.

"Advan is very happy to produce this feature phone and work together with Indosat Ooredoo to strengthen its network and internet," Chandra Tansri, Advan operational director, said.

The phone has a 0.3-megapixel front camera and a 2-megapixel rear camera. It has Bluetooth, expandable memory up to 32 gigabytes and 512 of RAM. It comes in black and white.

Priced at a low Rp 449,000 ($32), the phone comes with free unlimited 12 GB internet bundle and free calls to other Indosat Ooredoo numbers for a year.

The smart feature phone will hit the market on Dec. 28 in Medan, Pekanbaru, Lampung, West Java, East Java, Palu and Makassar. 

According to a survey by Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association (APJII) in 2018, 12.6 percent of the Indonesian population do not know how to use the Internet and 9.8 percent do not have internet-connected devices.