The "Jolla smartphone", if you've never heard of it, a company formed by a group of former Nokia employees that refused to let go of MeeGo after the Finnish mobile manufacturer abandoned it, has announced the launch of the first smartphone based on the new Sailfish operating system, called Jolla. It will be launched on November 27 by Jolla in partnership with Finnish telecom operator DNA.
Jolla's website notes that the Jolla smartphone is priced at Euros 399. The company plans to handover 450 pre-booked Jolla phones on November 27 and the rest would be available at DNA Kauppa outlets in early December, the statement said.
Inside is a 1.4GHz dual-core processor made by Qualcomm and 1GB of RAM. There's 16GB of storage and a microSD card slot underneath the rear cover for adding more. A 2100mAh battery is removable, includes a 4.5-inch (540x960 pixels) display, the Jolla smartphone will sport an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera alongside an LED flash, while there is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera as well. It also features changeable smart covers.
The Sailfish OS
Sailfish is closest in likeness to BlackBerry 10 OS. It's got no navigation buttons to speak of and is therefore gesture based.
Everything is about swiping, so apart from swiping up and down between the three aforementioned sections, there are three main things you can do. Swiping from the left or right edge of the screen will take you from an open app back to the homescreen, swiping from the top of the screen closes the app and swiping from the bottom displays your notifications.
The homescreen displays apps in a very similar way to BlackBerry 10, as you open more apps they get smaller to fit on the screen. However, if you have more than nine open, you can only see your most recent. The app tray at the bottom of the homescreen can be customised to your favourite apps.
From this initial hands-on we came away with the impression that Sailfish OS has a great deal of potential. It has a huge leg up from the core work already done by Intel and Nokia and its UI is genuinely innovative while taking a mixture of the best aspects from other platforms. On the hardware side whether the ‘Other half’ functionality of covers can be a genuine differentiator is less clear cut, but we can see it being popular in younger age groups.
That said where the real battle lies for Sailfish is not in convincing people it is a viable platform, but that it is preferable to the existing heavyweights. Our feeling is Jolla will have to reduce its handset price to achieve that, provide tight Android app integration from the outset and pick its markets carefully.
Aside from this the other battle is with three more newcomers: the Samsung/Intel funded Tizen, Firefox OS and Ubuntu. The first two will also have phones out in 2013 with the latter expecting to debut in early 2014.