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Watch out, Android Go: JioPhone set to support the world's most popular messaging app (Updated)

WhatsApp is heading to the JioPhone and JioPhone 2 feature phones as they increase their competition with Android Go.

Published onJuly 5, 2018

WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook are coming to the JioPhone.

Update: On Twitter, HMD Global chief product officer Juho Sarvikas teased that the Nokia 8810 4G will support WhatsApp.

Oh look, #Whatsapp on #KaiOS! Looking forward to going ?s!
— Juho Sarvikas (@sarvikas) July 5, 2018

If WhatsApp comes to the Nokia 8810 4G, it would back up HMD Global’s claim back in MWC 2018 that the company is not “closing the door” on WhatsApp.

The Nokia 8810 4G runs Smart Feature OS, which is based on KaiOS. The software allows the phone to support apps like Google Assistant, Google Search, and Google Maps.

Original article: One of the biggest problems with feature phones is that WhatsApp isn’t available on them, forcing users to pay extra for a smartphone instead. Fortunately, the new JioPhone 2 will launch with the messaging platform in India, the Reliance Jio network announced at an event today.

The company revealed that the IM platform, along with YouTube and Facebook apps, would be landing on the JioPhone 2. Owners of the first-generation JioPhone aren’t left in the dark, either, as they’ll get these apps from August 15.

It’s unclear how the KaiOS version of WhatsApp will differ from the Android app in terms of functionality, but the event live-stream showed a few snippets of the UI in action. Open WhatsApp and your main menu (below image) sees the “new chat” option being mapped to your left physical key, while the “options” menu is mapped to the right button. Enter a chat and the app maps a “more” option to the left physical key, while tapping the right physical key activates the “options” menu.

WhatsApp on a JioPhone.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard murmurings related to WhatsApp and KaiOS devices. Back at MWC 2018, HMD Global said they weren’t “closing the door” on WhatsApp coming to the Nokia 8110 4G, but added that it wasn’t available on the device at the time.

We’ve asked the KaiOS team whether WhatsApp would be coming to other KaiOS devices, but the company told Android Authority it can’t comment on “specific updates and/or release plans.” We’ve also asked HMD Global about WhatsApp coming to the Nokia 8110 4G and will update the article when/if we receive feedback.

What to know about the JioPhone 2?

The JioPhone 2.

The new JioPhone ditches the old device’s T9 keypad in favor of a physical QWERTY keypad. Otherwise, it features a 2.4-inch display, 2,000mAh battery, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of expandable storage, a 2MP main camera, VGA-quality selfie shooter, NFC support, and dual-SIM functionality.

The JioPhone 2 will be available from August 15 at an introductory price of 2,999 rupees (~$43). Customers with a first-generation JioPhone can also trade it in and pay 501 rupees (~$7). Nevertheless, the company says the two devices will exist side-by-side, if you still fancy the older device. Reliance Jio has also historically offered a variety of plans for the first-gen JioPhone, allowing the firm to say the device is “effectively free.”

Google aims lower than Android Go with new $22m investment
The Nokia 8110 4G.

At ~$43, the new phone is still cheaper than the vast majority of Android Go smartphones out there, such as the Nokia 1 (~$66) and Micromax Bharat Go (~$63). Sure, $20 might not be a huge difference for readers in the U.S. and Europe, but it could certainly make a difference in price-sensitive emerging markets. However, it looks like the new phone might be neck-and-neck with cheap white-labelled smartphones from cellular networks.

In any case, the addition of WhatsApp is a big feather in the cap for Jio and KaiOS. Add Google apps to the mix and it’s clear that the KaiOS platform is gaining steam in a big way. Here’s hoping we see even cheaper feature phones with KaiOS and these apps in the near future…