French multinational telecommunications corporation, Orange has partnered with KaiOS Technologies and UNISOC, a leading chipset manufacturer, to launch a $20 smartphone with voice recognition.
The announcement was made at a high-profile tech event known as the Mobile World Congress this February.
The device will be released in 16 countries in Africa and the Middle-East, including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Jordan, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Sierra Leone and Tunisia.
Beginning in April 2019, Orange customers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire will have access to a new category of smart feature phones powered by KaiOS, the operating system from KaiOS Technologies. The other countries will follow in the course of the year. The device, known as ‘Sanza’ will be commercialized with a dedicated offer for voice, text and data starting around $20 – depending of the country – that will help customers to optimise their budget.
Sanza has the simplicity of a feature phone with a long-lasting battery life up to 5 days, 3G+, Torch, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, combined with advanced smartphone-like functionalities.
“Thanks to a system known as the Google Assistant, Sanza will help overcome language and literacy challenges, as our customers can access information and applications on the device easily, just with their voice, and without having to type,” Orange confirmed in a statement this week.
The Google Assistant understands multiple French and English accents, with more languages to come later this year. The phone menu is available in Arabic, Swahili, Portuguese, English and French.
This new phone will also give access to applications such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps, as well as Orange Money, the flagship mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer and My Orange, an application to monitor your mobile consumption, among other things.
“With its access to internet with the voice and its attractive price around US $20, I have the conviction that this 3G phone and soon 4G, is a powerful lever to develop the access to internet for all in Africa,” said Orange Middle East and Africa, CEO Alioune Ndiaye.
Commenting on the same, Gerard Lokossou, CEO of Orange in the Democratic Republic of Congo noted that the Smartphone penetration rate in DRC is quite low at 30% compared with an average of 50% for the continent.
“Our mission is to help close the digital divide by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies.
“The Sanza by Orange marks an important milestone in fulfilling this mission, as its bound to be successful in Africa with its attractive price point, great features, and the strong presence of Orange in the region,” he concluded.