After receiving my Volla x phone I wanted to provide an honest review for those who may be interested.
This review is based solely on my specific need case, and does not reflect the use and needs of others.
Working as in InfoSec specialist my need was for a private and secure phone that could be used to also test alternative linux based OS's.
The Volla X is a well designed phone and feels well designed and made. I received the phone with Volla OS installed, even thought I was going to test ubuntu touch on it, I wanted to ensure that the flashing procedure worked well.
The Volla OS worked relatively well, there were some annoyances like delays in opening apps or news feeds etc.. this i didn't expect from a clean build. This is a little worrisome as these delays would only increase under heavier load.
I then flashed OBTouch from UBPorts, the flashing process was easy and went without a hitch. UBTouch worked well, and seemed a little more responsive than Volla OS.
After this I used UBPorts to flash the phone back to Volla OS, and this is where things took a turn for the worst. The flashing process seemed to go fine, no errors no indication of anything awry. The phone however would not boot, actually it wouldn't even power on, in effect the phone was bricked.
The only way to unbrick this phone is to use the SP_Flash tool, the problem with this is that there is no official place to download the tool, there are only non affiliated sites offering the tool for download. This opens up huge security holes, as there is no way to evaluate the authenticity of the tool. I decided to continue anyway in order to understand the recovery process. I found a version of the tool that was recommended on the UBports forum, I was also emailed a link to the official image files from Hello World Systems (Kudos to them for providing the link).
The issues didn't stop here though, the tool just didn't work on linux as it was supposed to, it seemed like the com port would keep disconnecting. I read many forums and many post about this and after exhausting pretty much everything I threw in my hand and decided to spin up a windows VM to see if I could flash it from there. Again just too many issues to list, but the main ones, there is no official mediatek driver for windows, just many un-authenticated sites offering the driver (another potential attack vector). The bottom line was I could not get a mediatek driver working on my Windows 11 VM.
At this point the potential security concerns about flashing and recovering the device were just too big to be ignored. My recommendations to the makers of the Volla Phone are:
1) Proved authenticated tools in order to easily recover the phone, or provide a VM environment that anyone can spin-up to enable them to flash their phone again.
2) Work with UBPorts and ensure an end to end flashing process.