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.

via NotebookCheck

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14 replies on “Volla Phone X23 is a rugged phone that runs Google-free Android or Ubuntu Touch”

  1. Hi!

    Wouldn’t it be better to get the Steam deck and a 4g feature phone/hotspot!

    1. No, not really. The steam deck really isn’t very good as a PDA or camera.

      1. Some Guy, just because you use a Linux Phone does NOT mean you’re not getting spied on. Either through the firmware, or through smart tracking systems online.

        With that said, you give too much credit to the corporations. They are not as sophisticated as you think they are. They are not out to get you. Their ambitions rest on increasing their profit margins, and extending their market share.

        If you said you were a wealthy and powerful individual, then yes you would have a point, but it would be moreso against the likes of NSA, CIA, FBI, and other services from other nations. Not to mention your political opponents. So we are talking about TARGETED invasion, rather than the passive version used by mainstream devices.

        With that said, there’s a lot you can do on Android to make it secure. For starters, you can disable some services and be picky with the Apps and Data you use. Secondly, you can root it, which gives you a lot of control in the sent data. Thirdly you can resort to Custom Roms, which can keep the good-bits and remove the bad-bits, in this context being the Google Services/Framework.

        At the end of the day, your life is about you. In many respects, sticking to mainstream has more advantages than disadvantages, for the average person. It’s a balance or compromise, and there is diminishing returns. Most people should be happy to trade some privacy for convenience, and they are. You are the anomaly. But I’m not telling you what to do, just pointing out that your behaviour is outside of the common person.

        Regardless of all that I’ve raised here, you still overlooked the point that was made. It’s that the typical Linux User isn’t looking for the buttery-iOS experience, or the fun-Android experience. They want to code. And the experience of that task is stupidly annoying on a phone or tablet. Even on a laptop it isn’t ideal. Typical Linux Users prefer having multi-monitors, a clicky keyboard, large mouse, and an x86 system, while sitting on an ergonomic chair. So yeah, Linux Phone is a tiny tiny niche which is more fantasy than reality.

        So what about my advice?
        Well, there is a lot of merit to it. If this Volla X23 excites you in any way, it’s worth picking up the Samsung xCover 6 Pro anyways. You’ll be waiting MONTHS for this fundraiser to get traction/ship out devices. In the meanwhile, you would get a comparable but better experience with the Samsung. Once this device ships to you, then you can make a detailed comparison between the two. It will make your job easier when it comes time to decide between which one of the devices to keep or sell. The reasoning is that both of these are One in a Million devices, which have User Removable Battery (and they have IP68), where they differ next is the Operating System, hence my advice.

        1. There are degrees of getting spied on. Yes, everyone knows that cell carriers track your location, although you can turn airplane mode on to stop that until you need to communicate. Yes, they’ll also track DNS requests if your connection to a DNS provider isn’t encrypted or you haven’t set a DNS provider that offers that. That’s true regardless of OS. But substantially less of your activity is being analyzed and correlated in detail if you’re not using an OS with Google Play Services or whatever proprietary analytics software Samsung is using on it. And if the firmware is phoning home all the time, well maybe it shouldn’t be doing that and you should at least try to send a message that you don’t want that even if the average consumer doesn’t really understand what firmware is or why they should care, even when realistically everything is doomed and you should just condemn everyone who disagrees with the current paradigm for making the stupid decisions needed to go along with it less than everyone else.
          Also, rooting and installing custom ROMs is not something you can expect to work out of the box on any android device, and might even be completely impossible on many devices (and Samsung devices have gotten more hostile to that lately). And you can’t reliably expect all hardware features to work unless you’re using an OS that shipped with the phone.

        2. Most people are sheep being led to their slaughter.
          I’m in the minority here but I want to minimize the amount of data and money that I give to giant evil corporations that ARE collecting as much info as possible on each and every one of us (even us nobodies). We know Linux phones aren’t some magic cloak that will completely remove us from big tech’s grasp but I’m still willing to shell out a few more bucks and have a little less convenience in order to remove some of these shackles placed upon me, and I’m just your average normie when it comes to computer knowledge.
          Your post reminds me of the famous quote stating that people who give up liberty for some safety (in this case, convenience) deserve neither.
          Everything is clearly moving to a subscription based, own nothing and be happy, social credit score 1984 surveillance system and if people knew what’s best for them they’d stop giving so much money to those that want them to be mindless slaves.
          Alt tech, Alt social media, Alt news sources and physical media is the answer.

          1. I think our financial credit scores are far more dystopian than social credit scores. In all honesty, if I have to choose between punishing people for being poor or being assholes, let’s punish the assholes and help the poor.

            I will never discourage anyone from trying to take back whatever control they can from corporations; i was an early backer for the Librem 5 and own each version of the PinePhone. If you really want to win against the major corporations, though, you need to join a communist party and get active in your community. If you are an enjoyer of GNU / Linux, you are already supporting communism, just in a very limited and non-threatening (to the powerful) sense.

          2. @justin
            The problem with social credit is there’s no concept or precedent of who should oversee it or the rules that go into it, and there’s simply too many unknowns thanks to the much greater scope. Complaining about the system is considered bad behavior in China for example, and if that’s applied to other countries systems, even ones that offer more than one party to vote for, the common person will have no say in what goes into the rule set once the system goes live. Who decides what behaviors constitute being an asshole…and which ones don’t? An appointed executive agency? A conglomerate of corporate representatives? A brand new set of elected officials (which will require constitutional changes)? Also, what if they decide to just give out certain bonuses to people’s scores, or change the weight of the penalty, based on a person’s immutable or less mutable identities?
            If I were to extrapolate from current trends, I’d expect stealing things to have less of an impact on your score than complaining about products that the government really, really, REALLY wants you to use right now.
            Also, social credit can in concept be checked at any location or doorway or any other time, as there is no precedent for where it’s unacceptable to check it. At least there’s limits about the financial score. At least they don’t broadcast your odds of getting a loan to the public when they suck.
            And furthermore, what happens if a large demographic develops a characteristic of just not really giving a care about the system? Whatever the case, it will certainly put them in conflict with everyone else more frequently.
            Fundamentally, each rule in social credit constitutes part of a game everyone has to play. Each rule has to be carefully considered in conjunction with other rules, including laws that already exist and the enforcement of said laws and corporate standards and practices, and old rules (including laws) have to be changed or removed, if you want anything good to come out of such a top-down system. And there are far more rules than the financial credit score. Slapping more rules you can’t enforce on top of rules that you can’t enforce due to other rules that are being prioritized won’t help. Sure, if we start from a blank slate with no laws in principle the financial score is more repressive, but in the current context where we theoretically already have heaps rules to try and prevent people from being jerks.
            That’s why it’s worse.

    2. It depends what you want to do with it. If you want to play games and have a phone, then sure. If you want to have a smartphone that, for example, actually fits in a pocket, this would be better. Try carrying around a Steam deck the way that people do with phones; it’s not going to work.

      1. What I want to do with it gots to do with vibrating beads when I sit down on it to play games.

        1. Anyone interested in this phone, should probably buy the Samsung Xcover6 Pro first.

          You get all the same specs, much faster processor, more memory and storage, much sharper cameras, and a display that looks much better but has No Burn-in. Plus you get a much more stable software and 5-Years of updates.

          What you lack is the Linux option, and a slightly smaller battery. Though in practice, most Linux users would prefer to use an iPhone/Android and have their Linux system on their dedicated Desktop PC. And for anyone looking for “mobile use” the System76 Laptops are much better still.

          1. When you buy Samsung, you’re also getting google android, so you’re also getting spied on. Yes, I’m very well aware that by all common standards of normalcy, anyone interested in this phone SHOULD just SUBMIT and embrace the botnet, but that won’t stop me from also knowing that the way these corporations want human beings to live is not what we’re evolved for.

  2. If it was available where I lived I’d be highly tempted.
    I’m sure some people will flip at the price to RAM ratio but honestly, unless you’ve got an iPhone no one cares what you have, and 4 is still fine for a phone that’s not trying to be anything more than a contemporary communications device.
    Oh wait I’m sorry, I’m supposed to say “you’ve got iPhone” apparently. Like it’s a service or something.

    1. iPhones are overrated now I am surrounded by people using them and can see they are just as janky as my Android POS phone.

      Too bad this Volla is an EU thing.. VollaOs is not interesting so I don’t know why they bother.. it is more PDA than smartphone.. there is no way my service provider would ok this as a phone as my service already sucks as-is with the stock garbage Android that they like so much when watching me poo.

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