The Volla Phone X23 is a smartphone with a 6.1 inch HD+ display, a MediaTek Helio G99 processor, 4GB of RAM. 64GB of storage, and a ruggedized body that’s MIL-STD-810H tested and IP68 rated for water and dust resistance.
Unlike many modern phones, it also has a user-replaceable battery, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. But it’s also the software that really makes the phone stand out: Like all of the phones Volla has released since 2019, the Volla Phone X23 comes with a choice of the Linux-based Ubuntu Touch or the Android-based Volla OS.
Ubuntu Touch a touchscreen-friendly Linux distribution that was original developed by Canonical, the company that makes the popular Ubuntu operating system. Canonical eventually abandoned the project, but it was picked up by a team of independent developers that formed the UBPorts project.
The operating system officially supports a few dozen phones that originally shipped with Android as well as a few Linux-first devices like the PinePhone and Librem 5. But Volla’s phones are some of the only models available with the operating system pre-installed.
Volla OS, meanwhile, is a fork of Google’s Android Open Source Project code that includes a number of custom features including a Springboard launcher, support for light, dark, and transparent themes, and replacements for some of Google’s standard apps with secure, private alternatives for sending messages, browsing the web, or GPS navigation.
In fact, Volla OS is described as a Google-free operating system despite the fact that Google develops Android, since it ships without Google Mobile Services, the Google Play Store, or other Google apps such as Gmail, Chrome, or Google Maps.
Note that some of the phone’s features may vary depending on the operating system. For example, Ubuntu Touch supports “convergence,” allowing you to connect the phone to an external display to run desktop Linux apps, but Volla OS doesn’t have any sort of desktop mode. Meanwhile Volla says data encryption is only supported in Volla OS. And if you want a multi-boot setup that lets you switch between operating systems on the same phone, Volla recommends purchasing a model with Volla OS and installing Ubuntu Touch (or another OS) manually.
Both versions of the Volla Phone X23 are expected to begin shipping in May, 2023 and they’re up for pre-order now for €522 (about $560), although Volla says the first 20 customers who pre-order can use the coupon code SUPERX23 to save 15%. And anyone who pre-orders by March 19th can save 10% with the code VOLLAX23.
Right now the Volla Phone X23 is only officially available in Europe, but Volla suggests that folks in other markets might be able to snag one through an upcoming Indiegogo campaign.
In terms of hardware, the phone has a 1560 x 720 pixel IPS LCD display with up to 500 nits brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and a notch for the 16MP front-facing camera.
On the back of the phone there are 48MP primary and 8MP ultra-wide cameras. And on the sides there’s a fingerprint reader as well as power and volume buttons and a button that you can use to dictate notes using offline speech-to-text functionality.
The phone has a microSD card reader with support for up to 1TB of removable storage, a 3.5mm headset jack, a USB Type-C port, a removable 5,000 mAh battery with support for 30W wired charging or 15W wireless charging, and support for 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC.