The KaiOS-powered Nokia 2780 Flip is the phone I wish I could use

Android figures
(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

I hate feeling like a servant to my phone. When it's constantly calling for attention from one app or another, a status bar filled with things I don't really care about but have to look at I sometimes question who is in charge. 

I have a few ways I try to manage this. Weekends are on Do Not Disturb mode and that mostly works, but I found a better way. Almost.

Enter the Nokia 2780 Flip. What?! A flip phone? Yes, a flip phone. But not the kind of flip phone you think.

The 2780 doesn't run Android but it's not a "dumbphone" either. It runs KaiOS and can do just about everything I want my primary communication device to do. It's the phone I would use every day if I could, but two things hold me back. (Spoiler: the features or software aren't either of them).

Nokia 2780 Flip

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

The elephant in the room is that I have to have a phone that uses Android if I want to honestly and accurately write about Android phones and Google's software for a living. I don't think of this as a burden or anything because Android is a damn fine bit of software, but to know it well enough to get paid for knowing about it you have to use it every day.

The second reason is the killer of dreams though, and that's the fact that the 2780 is a 4G-only phone. It's not future-proof and it often hates trying to navigate T-Mobile's squirrelly network, leaving me with no signal or a really weird slow signal that I can't share with another device. We'll get to that in a minute.

First things first. The Nokia 2780 Flip is an inexpensive phone that's well-built but pretty basic. I'm not going to list a bunch of OMG specs or anything because there is nothing list-worthy — Snapdragon 215, a basic camera, an SD card slot, and a 1,400-something mAh battery. it does have a removable battery and an FM radio so that's kind of cool.

The positives outweigh the negatives. Two days of battery life would be good. The 2780 gets four. You can get it brand new with no strings attached for $89. It's unlocked and works with any GSM carrier in North America, including MVNOs like Mint Mobile. Some folks say it works 100% with Verizon and is fully supported, but I'm unable to test that.

It runs KaiOS, which is a mobile Linux system based on the Firefox OS open-source project. It's sorta like Android-lite in a lot of ways. It's optimized to run on devices with less memory and processing power. This makes it a great option for people who are looking for a smartphone that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Nokia 2780 Flip

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

Another great thing about KaiOS is that it's very easy to use. The interface is simple and intuitive, and even people who are not tech-savvy will be able to figure it out quickly. Since it natively runs HTML5 applications, there's even an app store with titles like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and more. 

If you're looking for a smartphone that doesn't cost a lot of money, but still offers a great user experience, then a KaiOS phone like the Nokia 2780 Flip is a great option. And if you want to get the most out of Kai OS, you can pair it with a Chromebook or an Android tablet.

This leads me to the other reason I can't make the switch — tethering over a spotty connection isn't fast enough for the modern web.

Like a lot of people, I carry a laptop around most of the time I leave the house. It's a little easier for me, maybe, because I'm like a rolling U-Haul with a backpack latched to the back of my wheelchair, but plenty of people carry a lightweight laptop or tablet with them when they're out and about.

This really is the best of both worlds. You have secure and solid software on your phone that keeps you in touch with everyone and you get everything Chrome or Android (or Apple or Microsoft) have to offer with your larger screen.

Dupont Circle in Washington, DC

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

This is great when you're in a place with Wi-Fi like a business but what if you wanna sit at the park, or by the Dupont Circle Fountain just watching people go by? You can just tether your phone to your other device if you need some screen time.

This is why I want need KaiOS to support 5G. The phone on 4G works for now in most places that aren't like my neck of the woods and "in permanent transition" from Sprint to T-Mobile, but it won't forever. When I'm people watching I don't necessarily want more screen time, but if I do I want it to be good. This makes the 2780, or any KaiOS phone, unusable for me.

You, however, might live in a place where 4G still works the way it always did — carriers aren't doing away with it any time soon. If you do and want to try something different, the Nokia 2780 Flip doesn't cost Android flagship money.

Yet it really does everything you need a smartphone to do as long as you have something else to run those apps you need once in a while.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.