Retro Phone Journey, Part 5: Reality Sets In


As I said, the Alcatel Go Flip 4 is as advertised *for the most part*. Unfortunately, it is not quite as advertised.


Disappointment #1: The KaiOS Store

Although this phone uses the KaiOS Store, it apparently does not get to use all of the apps in the store. In fact, when I compare what I see when browsing the store on my laptop to what I see on my phone, it seems that only a small minority of KaiOS apps are available to my phone. This would not bother me so much if I had been given any warning in advance or explanation after the fact, but nope. My phone has the latest KaiOS, and nothing on the website suggests that I should not be able to download and use all the apps.


Disappointment #2: No MFA app

As I said earlier, one of the reasons I decied to buy this phone was that the KaiOS store showed two MFA apps. It turns out that neither of these apps are available to my phone (again, without explanation). This is not a dealbreaker *yet* but as MFA becomes more common, it might become one.


Disappointment #3: Inadequate documentation

As I said, there is no explanation for why many KaiOS apps are not available for my phone. But more generally, KaiOS documentation is pretty sad. I think they're struggling to keep up with their growing ecosystem, and the OS is so new, there isn't a lot of 3rd-party documentation out there. The main KaiOS community is on Reddit. (Come on.)


Disappointment #4: Do I have to hack this thing?

From what I've read, I can have an MFA long as I'm willing to hack my phone (put it in debug mode), hand-roll a KaiOS app (likely from some 3rd-party Github repo) and sideload it. I might go ahead and do this eventually. On the other hand, this is now my main phone, and I'm not sure I want to risk losing dialing and SMS over this. For now, it seems safer to use my old Samsung Galaxy as PDA tethered to my Alcatel.


Disappointment #5: Won't sync with car

I have modern vehicles. (I hate cars, but they are necessary where I live.) They have Bluetooth and voice dialing. I have used multiple Android phones with them. The Alcatel does successfully pair with my vehicles; however, it fails to sync the contacts. This means that I get no voice dialing (and stranger yet, no readout of incoming text messages). I hate talking on the road, anyway, so hopefully it will never matter, but practically speaking, it means that if I ever need to make an emergency call from the road, I'll have to pull over, manually start the call, then get back on the road.


Part 6: Verdict?

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