The Volla Phone 22 is a smartphone with a 6.3 inch FHD+ display, a MediaTek Helio G85 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Unlike many modern phones, it also a user-replaceable battery, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader.
But what really makes it stand out is the software. The phone, which is up for pre-order through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, ships with a choice of the Android-based Volla OS or the Ubuntu Touch mobile Linux distribution. It also supports multi-boot functionality, allowing you to install more than one operating system and choose which to run at startup.
This is the third phone from Volla. It has a faster processor and twice as much storage as the original Volla Phone and Volla Phone X, both of which feature MediaTek Helio P23 processors and 64GB of storage.
The camera system has also been upgraded, and while the phone’s 4,500 mAh battery is a little smaller than the batteries used in the older models, the Volla Phone 22 is the first phone in the series with a user-replaceable battery. So you can swap out batteries if you need more run time or replace an aging battery with a new model to extend your phone’s life span in a few years.
While Volla works with the folks at UBPorts to ensure its phones are compatible with Ubuntu Touch, the company develops the Android-based Volla OS in-house. It’s based on Google’s Android Open Source Project code, but includes a custom launcher, user interface, and set of apps with an emphasis on privacy.
The Google Play Store is not included, as this is a phone aimed at folks who want to minimize tracking from big tech companies. Other Google apps and services like the Chrome web browser, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Gmail are also omitted. The upshot is that no user data is collected or stored by Volla, Google, or other companies unless you decide to install apps that track your data. Of course, that could make using the phone a little less convenient if you’ve come to rely on those apps, so the Volla Phone might not be the best choice for everyone.
Volla OS also has a built-in user-customizable firewall, an App Locker feature for disabling and hiding apps, and optional support for using the Hide.me VPN for anonymous internet usage. The source code for Volla OS is also available for anyone that wants to inspect the code.
The operating system also has a custom user interface including a Springboard that allows you to quickly launch frequently-used apps by pressing a red dot for a list, or by starting to type in a search box for automatic suggestions such as placing a phone call, sending a text message, or opening a web page. You can also create notes or calendar events from the Springboard or send an encrypted message with Signal.
In terms of hardware, here are some of the phone’s key specs:
|Volla Phone 22 Specs|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio G85|
2 x ARM Cortex-A75 @ 2 GHz
6 x ARM Cortex-A55 @ 1.8 GHz
Mali-G52 MC2 graphics
microSD card reader (up to 512GB)
8MP (ultra wide angle)
|Ports||USB 2.0 Type-C|
3.5mm audio jack
microSD card reader
2 x nano SIM card slots
GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo
|Dimensions||157.5 x 75 x 10.4mm|
|Price||€378 + shipping (early bird crowdfunding)|
Volla expects to begin shipping the phone in June, 2022 to backers of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Prices start at €378 ($408) for early bird backers or €398 ($430) for folks who miss out on the early bird special. Note that shipping to the US will add €46 ($50) to the price though.
Is this another phone reported here that doesn’t support most US bands?
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It’s intolerable — the government (which presently steals our data wholesale) should instead ensure that secure operating systems uncontaminated with proprietary waste are made generally available, perhaps by buying Linux-based ones or mandating that all phones be made flashable with better OSs. It would be helpful to identify closely comparable hardware and see its price; how much of a surcharge do we now have to pay for Linux on a phone?
National governments are involved with way too much stuff as it is, with a billion things they shouldn’t be doing that no one knows how to stop. And personally, I wouldn’t trust a government to be able to not do stupid stuff like make them ship binaries with proprietary backdoors in them without disclosing it.
If we want phones to let people do what they want with them as much as computers, they have to be more like computers. Removable primary storage, conforming to a standard that people could buy replacement modules for at any retail outlet (like SD cards, except those are not fast enough to satisfy most people). Systemready SoCs. UEFI firmware. If phones had that, we wouldn’t have to be seeing custom kernels and locked bootloaders for every device, and when someone wanted to upgrade the storage, the easy thing to do to make sure their phone could still do anything would be provide an OS installer. It would make the development of operating systems that Respect Your Freedom much easier, to the point of being a prerequisite for the rule you propose in the first place.
This could theoretically happen without government involvement, if someone were to convince investors to buy a factory to make phones like this then sell a billion trillion units by making them better than everything else…and pigs could also fly. Because data mining is the biggest part of the phone business. A large part of the internet hardware would have to be destroyed before that made sense, which is why ARM laptops are as locked down and soldered together as phones, and x86 laptops are moving in that direction too.