Categories: Telecommunications

Econet introduces Smart KaMbudzi phone which is WhatsApp compatible

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We have talked about Kai OS for a while now and how we expect the operating system built to make basic phones smarter. Think of a basic phone (more commonly referred to as kambudzi) running WhatsApp, YouTube, Google and Twitter. Sounds exciting.

Well, Econet wants in on the Kai OS pie and announed the 3G Smart KaMbudzi feature phone via Twitter this morning.

Whilst Econet didn’t outrightly mention that the phone is running Kai OS we know from the fact that it can run WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Google on such a basic phone it is probably using that OS (99% sure).

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In addition to being able to run all these applications on such a phone, Econet is also giving away 6GB free data when you purchase the 3G enabled phone.

From the Twitter material the phone is advertised as having 2 day battery life and knowing how these kind of phones tend to last in terms of battery life – that’s a reasonable claim for Econet to make.

How much will it cost?

3G Smart KaMbudzi’s will set you back ZW$3000 at the time of writing and at that price point this is a very attractive phone. Smartphones tend to set people back US$80+ (ZW$8000) and so having such an affordable phone that can run WhatsApp is a game-changer.

Nothing new under the sun

For avid Techzim readers (or those of you who keep up with tech news) you’ll probably be having a sense of deja-vu. This is because MTN launched their own Kai OS enabled feature-phone back in March of 2019.

Before that, Reliance Jio of India launched a similar phone and by March 2018 they had sold 25 million units. Hugely popular is an understatement. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these for review purposes.


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  • Do run a review

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    • I definitely agree on running the review.

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    • Keep an eye out next week

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  • Pretty interesting, seems they caught wind of it here on your post when you shared Tinofara Mutovongi's Ixar mobile move on this phone. Sadly he was attacked that it wasn't as noble an idea. But now econet is on it??? I wonder if people will embrace it now that econet is on it lol. Zim so ka!

    Someone at econet saw this post. https://www.techzim.co.zw/2020/05/local-company-now-selling-kai-os-smart-featurphones-a-mbudzi-with-whatsapp/

    This may be an advantage for Ixar to have their idea legitimized since Econet is brand to go with. lol So hence I would encourage the Ixar guys to start moving stock fast, online before they are left in the dust.

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    • Most KaiOS phones around the world are actually launched by CARRIERS so someone at Econet probably got an email directly from them - I'm sure Telecel and Netone as well but they probably just sat on it or they saw that they won't have the potential volumes to have it make sense like Econet. This is not another "Econet stole my idea" scenario - Vodacom and MTN have had their own KaiOS mbudzis in SA, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya etc for well over a year now. By the time that Ixar article went up, the ink on any Econet Kai deal would have already been dry - it takes time time action such an initiative.

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      • Exactly. People are so obsessed with this "stolen ideas". Instead, just build compelling products and sell your thing.

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    • I doubt the idea was "stolen". Many mobile network operators across the region have launched Kai OS devices over the last year and a half. Econet and other MNOs would know this. The obsession with stolen ideas needs to be put to rest. Ixar is not itself an original idea so to claim the idea is stolen is pretty interesting

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  • What is a Kambudzi,is this post for Mashonaland?

    Respect millions of Zimbabweans who are not Shona please!

    Use proper names not your Shona slang!

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    • We are proud of the fact that we are very informal in our writing. Next time we write about the Smart KaMbudzi phone or other feature phones we will continue to refer to them as Mbudzi. Unless of course they get another catchier name and we will use that instead. #Sorrynotsorry

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      • Very insensitive to your readers

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        • Hey Godwill, will once again reiterate the fact that 1) we are not the ones who coined the term mbudzi and 2) Econet themselves are calling the phone Mbudzi. If you take offence at the above response apologies for that but please try not be one of those people who are overly serious about things. SMILE

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  • Are we able to connect this phone on WIFI ?

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Published by
Farai Mudzingwa

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