Is it worth using a KaiOS phone in 2021?
KaiOS is a lightweight operating system, with which it is possible to call, send messages and use WhatsApp, so it is simplicity without too many sacrifices. The devices on which it is installed are small and you hardly feel their presence in your pocket, unlike smartphones, and this also helps those who want to think about enjoying the days without distractions. These devices are also cheap, so much so that they allowed the use of the internet for the first time for many people in developing countries.
It all seems perfect so ... what can go wrong?
Not everyone is willing to give up on more mainstream apps, and heavier sites tend to load slowly compared to more powerful smartphones. On KaiOS, the battery lasts longer if you don't use the phone, but for an average use you will hardly reach two days. If you take an Android smartphone and begin to, uninstall all Google apps (including Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Maps ...), just install Mozilla Firefox from the Play Store and use only this browser for these internet services (including the various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, if you use them), 3000 mAh of battery are enough, with an average use of the smartphone you can easily to reach 3-4 days. So, if your priority is the battery duration, just delete all native Android apps from your smartphone and the convert all your use cases to WebApps.
Maybe on your smartphone you can also install a different launcher, for example Nova, or something like iOS or Ubuntu Touch... with Android you can. All this is not possible on a KaiOS phone without root access.
About KaiOS, the worst thing is the lack of compatible online services (bank accounts, healthcare or public administration). KaiOS is just a browser (versions 2.0 and 2.5+ of the software are actually based on the old Gecko engine of Firefox 48, too old for many standards), then all its "webapps" are just "tabs" of this browser. Until the day that KaiOS 3.0 will be released with a new and more recent engine (thanks to the new partnership between KaiosTech and Mozilla) many web services will be not compatible with this operating system. Until then, you will hardly find an app for these services in KaiOS, and developers who rely on the KaiStore generally include leisure applications in the official store, less useful than pre-installed ones. Language support is also bad in these applications, especially for non-English people.
Enabling developer's options on a KaiOS device is difficult in many cases. Not impossible, but too much often difficult, and this is timited to a part of devices with an old firmware. Actually its hard to find a brand-new KaiOS phone with the most recent firmware version and an ADB access "authorized". On an Android device you have just to tap seven times on the build's number in Settings > Info to enable the Developer menu and all the hidden features. If your Android smartphone not a Samsung-branded model, it's also easy to root (for example, to use a builtin ADblock or a Swapfile).
KaiOS is born from the ashes of Firefox OS, a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), but as you can understand from what I wrote, it's not so free compared to a stock Android build.
In general, there is not a real interest by many KaiOS developers to put their knowledge and efforts on an emerging operating system like KaiOS. Any GNU Linux distribution if installed on a device would have more support just for enjoying the use of cross-platform programs (for example Ubports/Ubuntu Touch and LineageOS, or devices like the Phinephone that support many popular distributions like Debian, Manjaro and Arch).
That said, who would I recommend KaiOS to?
As I said at the beginning, KaiOS devices allow you to make calls, send messages and use WhatsApp, but also listen to music or play simple and light games that require such a low resolution ... that you forget you have a phone. So I recommend KaiOS to those people who just need these simple things.
But above all I recommend KaiOS to developers who accept KaiOS as a challenge, in order to make it really competitive against more mainstream systems such as Android and iOS, and therefore not to leave anyone behind. It's thanks to these brave developers if I wrote this website, since 2018, hoping they will appreciate this work I've done for the community and encouraging them to help us to improve KaiOS, spreading it to the world.
If you believe into an alternative and want to cooperate with the community through our communication channels, you're wellcome. If not, just explore this website to find something interesting... and maybe compatible with your Android smartphone.