Jolla Smartphone Review
Android and iOS – these are the two platforms dominating the mobile landscape, with Windows Phone standing at a distant third place. From the looks of it, that's the way things are going to be in the foreseeable future. Of course, this isn't stopping ambitious start-ups from trying to grab a chunk of the smartphone market with their lesser-known products and alternative operating systems. One of them is Jolla – a Finnish company run by former Nokia employees – which launched its first smartphone in late 2013.
What's unique about the Jolla smartphone is that it is powered by Sailfish OS – a new platform based on the now-forgotten MeeGo operating system. The software is capable of running Android apps and it its user interface relies heavily on gesture-based user interaction. On the hardware side of things, we're looking at a 4.5-inch screen, dual-core Snapdragon 400 SoC, and an 8MP main camera. Surely, anyone who knows their way around a smartphone can tell that a setup like this can't justify the smartphone's rather steep 400 euro (~$550) price tag. But who knows, the software experience might manage to win our hearts. Let's find out if that's the case!
Yin just met its Yang.
“Dude, what phone is that?” – be ready to be asked this question often if you intend on owning Jolla's smartphone. Why? Well, mostly because the handset is bound to be a magnet for attention thanks to its distinctive design. Sure, a beauty prize winner this is not, but it feels fresh, it feels different, it feels… unique. And we like this for it has been a long time since we last handled a smartphone with so much personality. All of these impressions are induced from a device that's built with minimalism in mind – a device lacking any superfluous design features. Even the Jolla logos etched on the phone's back and top sides are made to be as discrete and unobtrusive as possible – a touch that we're very fond of.
Fundamentally, the Jolla smartphone is built around the idea of it being comprised of two components. These are commonly referred to as its two halves – one being pretty much the phone itself, and the other being its removable, polycarbonate-made, scratch- and fingerprint-resistant back cover. Seems odd at first, we know, but there's more to it than meets the eye. You see, a unique trait about the Jolla phone is that it knows what kind of back cover it has been paired with. Once the cover has been recognized with a dose of NFC magic, the software of the device adapts itself – slap a back of a particular color and a matching UI theme will be applied. Alas, this otherwise outstanding feature isn't being used to its fullest potential, or at least not as of this writing. Perhaps one day we might see other, more advanced halves with built-in extras like wireless charging, an extra-large flash for the camera, and all sorts of goodies that add extra functionality and augment the overall user experience. Until then, however, we'll have to settle with just simple, colored polycarbonate covers costing almost $40 apiece.
The Jolla phone is of average size for a contemporary smartphone and we find it easy to handle. Its sharp corners, however, dig into our palm and don't feel very nice. On the bright side of things, our fingers have no troubles operating the well-exposed power and volume keys on the handset's right side. Speaking of buttons, there aren't any on the Jolla phone's front side, as you might have noticed from the pictures. That's because the UI of the OS is gesture-based, which eliminates the need for home, back, or any other dedicated navigation keys, but we'll get to this in a minute. The only thing found under the phone's screen is an RGB LED for notification purposes.
Nothing to hold your breath for.
The Jolla smartphone comes with a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display. As a whole, the screen isn't bad, but it is also far from impressive. Its resolution of just 540 by 960 pixels, despite being sufficient for most tasks, is underwhelming to see on a relatively pricey smartphone at this point in time. Color reproduction is fairly accurate, but blacks are pretty much non-existent. The touchscreen has no super-sensitive properties, which means that one can't use the phone with gloves on. Automatic brightness control is also absent, which is a shame, especially when the screen is unusable outdoors unless its brightness is set to the maximum level.
14. akki20892 (Posts: 3555; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
Sometimes they need good Reviewer. This Is childish review. Sometimes I see fanism.
20. rangaha (banned) (Posts: 86; Member since: 05 Dec 2013)
Funny how these people comment that this is a terrible review, yet they have never even used the phone being reviewed. Quite hypocritical that this guy calls the author out on 'fanism'.
41. papss (unregistered)
Nice trolling skoms.. So cleaver and has nothing to do with this phone.
85. Dastrix (Posts: 596; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
Sure, 2/10 is better than 9/10. How's math for you?
58. akki20892 (Posts: 3555; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
2 out of 10, men think about it, this is out of limits.
90. ihavenoname (Posts: 1430; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)
It's not good device, but after all, it's Jollas first smartphone, made by ~100 guys. OS is great, but it's more like alpha than beta or finished one. Some forgiving must do, and I think that this device should get like 4 or 5, just to be generous.
99. downphoenix (Posts: 2357; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
typically Nokia fanboy. It is clear that this is a junk phone. It has lesser specs than the Moto G and is about 3-5x the price (depending on where you get the Moto G at) and apparently is worse than the Moto G on all fronts. I cant think of a single reason why someone would buy this over that, and that is a phone that costs about 100-150$ generally.
125. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 968; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
oh yeah the specs are what makes a phonne junk now may i remind that unlike android other OS's don't need big specs to run seamlessly
16. easymomo (Posts: 89; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)
The score is very low, but I read the review... the phone is really really disapointing and has the same price as the Nexus 5 or LG G2.
34. chunky1x (Posts: 253; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
Brutal is a conservative term. There are no words that could ever describe this review on the planet.
48. Johnnokia (Posts: 523; Member since: 27 May 2012)
Nick T. ,, just grow up.
Your review is more than disgusting.
This is the worst unprofessional review I ever seen.
I can't call a review either.
6 years child could write better than you.
I used to read only GSMArena reviews.
65. cripton805 (Posts: 942; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
Honestly, I think the review was justified. The specs are horrible and every single pro the phone has, it has to be limited to what seemed "unfinished". For example, the NFC. Why didnt they finish NFC support, if its included. It's $550 which is not cheap by todays standards. It doesnt support much in multimedia. The camera has no HDR, camera lag, etc... Bad call quality. Low res screen...
I would have given it a 1 out of 10.
71. jroc74 (Posts: 4934; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Exactly. I think some ppl have blinders on. Just because you like a phone or want it to succeed....doesnt always mean its a good phone.
100. downphoenix (Posts: 2357; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
so true. Phones like Moto G are better when they're about 1/3rd of the price, and this phone is just BARELY ahead of the Lumia 520/521 which are about 1/5th of the price.
121. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 968; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
you do know the jolla office is made out of 85 people they don't have advanced research facilities or beta testers the beta testers are the community i got sailfish running on my n9 and it's great for it's beta tag !
91. PAPINYC (Posts: 2305; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)
iAgree, iL♥ve this new iPhone 6; there's no need for such a horrific review, that's just unprofessional!!
105. -box- (Posts: 3820; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
I wonder how much the price played a part in the overall rating. Yes, the Jolla phone is admittedly incomplete, but it's a device for people that like to tinker, explore, experiment, and modify their devices, and want more freedom than what android offers, or something different, fresh, and coming from a semi-grassroots foundation. If it were $200-300, I'd consider picking one up, but $550 is steep for what it is, and better to sell more $300 phones than few $500 phones, IMHO, as it gets the product in more hands and gives more opportunities for crowdsourcing and the like.
2. Sesameopen (Posts: 106; Member since: 02 Aug 2013)
Lowest score on PA up to date.
Damn I was actually thinking about getting this.
25. mobi_user (Posts: 110; Member since: 18 Jun 2013)
PA will not give this phone a good review.
First it is a very small company to sponser thing for them.
Second, Jolla is made of revolting members of Nokia+Microsoft. They didn't surrender to the morachy.
Third, Tizen needs to be put in place.
42. papss (unregistered)
So they instead made a pos OS with even worse hardware.. Awesome
28. Bernoulli (Posts: 1451; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
I am getting this phone regardless, pa can suck it, plus don't forget that it'll run smoothly without lag, like androids.
72. jroc74 (Posts: 4934; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Yea...seems some ppl are still stuck in 2008, 2009.
Perfect example....I have a Droid 1, not activated. I have it for the kids to use. I tried different ROMs....tried an ICS based one. Lagged bad.
Went back to a 2.2 basic one...its been extremely smooth sailing.
The Droid 1 officially only got 2.2. I just wanted to see some things...compare that to how much better stock Android has gotten over the years...and the better hardware has gotten.
Some ppl....really......really.....need to stop living in the past.
109. Bernoulli (Posts: 1451; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
Yep... that's why I moved away from android
46. hms2407 (Posts: 94; Member since: 25 Apr 2013)
''plus don't forget that it'll run smoothly without lag, like androids'' i own a nexus 5 which roughly costs the same or lesser than this and ever since ive been using it,there was not even a single glimpse of any lag or stutter in application or the UI,even high end games run smoothly at 60 fps....this proves the in-validness of your comment :p
110. Bernoulli (Posts: 1451; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
Your experience alone is like mine, a mere opinion, I used to own a Galaxy Note 2 and for the first weeks it was great, but then I started to have problems, lag wasn't as bad as my htc glacier but was still there, but what really killed it for me was the poor build quality of Android phones, since on the first drop on concrete with a case on the screen shattered and glass chipped off, becoming more of a hazard than a phone, I did my research and found nokia's superior build quality over any other manufacturer, I have a playstation 3 and just got the 4 (for free) so if I wanted to play games I can just use my playstations, .... this proves the opinion that we all like and prefer different things
114. hms2407 (Posts: 94; Member since: 25 Apr 2013)
occasional lag is a part of touchwiz..not android,im pretty sure that your Gnote 2 started to lag or slowed down after you installed a bunch of 3rd party applications,if yes? then same is the case with Samsung's current flagship phone aka the Gs4 but that (by all means) doesn't correspond to the fact that if one oem doesnt pay attention to their software then the main platform it is based on is crippled and as for the build quality,samsung (again) is blamed for having the worst build quality
131. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4069; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
I think you're generalizing Android devices. Lag is more dependent on the manufacturer skin than the OS itself. I have the Droid Mini, and I could not ask for better performance because it's perfect, other than some instability when I switched to ART, but it's still in beta so that's to be expected. Once I switch back to Dalvik it was all better; that's primarily because of near stock Android.
Also, this thing is a tank when it comes to the glass. I've dropped it multiple times; face first on a wooden table, tile floor, concrete, wooden floors, and it doesn't even have a scratch, no screen protector or case. The glossy finish on the Kevlar is starting to chip, though, I don't know why Motorola put it there. Matte Kevlar like on the Droid Maxx and previous Razrs holds up *much* better, I hope they don't make the same mistake this year.
92. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2318; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)
You'd think Android raped your mom from the way you constantly talk about it. Time to let it go, man. It's not that serious.
3. xperiaDROID (limited) (Posts: 5553; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)
2 out of 10? Really? Jolla is gonna kick PA's a**.
9. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 746; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
Not if everyone else kicks it first
5. power_x (Posts: 235; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)
only 2/10 ??????
i feel sorry for the people who worked so hard on developing this phone
13. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 746; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
You should feel sorry for the consumers who are manipulated into thinking that this is a terrible product
17. SleepingOz (unregistered)
GSMArena did a preview of this a while ago, and they came to the same conclusion as PA.
22. jellmoo (Posts: 690; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Whoa, hold on there. The GSMArena preview most certainly did not. It was a great write up that showed what they liked, what they didn't, what needed improvement, and had great followup. They dug into each piece and showed a complete picture of the device.
This is a hack job of a review that contains wayyyy less detail than that preview (which is sad in and of itself).
24. buccob (Posts: 1479; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)
well I rarely trust PA reviews... but this is definitely not an outstanding product either... specially for the price
6. lucid.brat (Posts: 98; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)
PA how much does Sammy and apple pay u????
7. muser793 (Posts: 44; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
well i know it can't compete with android and windows phones but 2?! seriously?! i think it deserves a 6. not a bad camera, average display, nice design, average hardware...
of course it has many downsides but 2 is not fair at all...
8. X.E.R.O. (unregistered)
10. jellmoo (Posts: 690; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Wow. The utterly negative tone in this review is simply not welcome. Grade a product with a low score if it applies, but this was written as though the author had every intention of disliking the product from the get go. Things like:
"Remember MeeGo? Don't feel bad if you don't. Announced jointly by Intel and Nokia in 2010, it was a Linux-based OS that never really achieved any commercial success... In other words, we're dealing with an underdog mobile operating system built upon a product that flopped."
Are are a gross oversimplification bordering on downright fabrications.
The entire slant of this review is just brutally oversimplified, with no time taken to even dig into anything. It's literally a list of "didn't like this, didn't like that, not a fan of this..." with no context, no understanding, and no concept that this isn't just another device from a big name manufacturer.
If a phone deserves a 2 out of 10, fine, give it that score. But this reads like the author was looking for reasons to give this device as low a score as possible, and simply wasn't going to like it. Expecting a device made by a small group, with extremely limited means to offer a 100% competitive product from the get go and try and compare the device to those made by juggernauts like Apple or Samsung is utter folly.
You could have done the same review, given the same score, but stripped away the negativity and offered a compelling look at a flawed product. Could have gone in deep and identified what had promise, what needs a complete overhaul, and offered constructive criticism. This site is a great place for news, rumours and editorials. But the reviews here are incredibly inconsistent, follow no set parameters that I've been able to see, and consist of little more than hack jobs for products that aren't loved, and giant circle jerks for products that tickle the reviewers fancy.
45. xoatomxo (Posts: 57; Member since: 26 Apr 2011)
And some reviewers are honest.
He took some time to review the product and he believes it's a 2.
50. xoatomxo (Posts: 57; Member since: 26 Apr 2011)
He took some time to review the product and he believes it's a 2.
Reviewer should be a reviewer and must be fair and honest.
He should not give higher score just because its not ios, android or wp.
61. jellmoo (Posts: 690; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
The score isn't the issue, it's the content. The review contains no real context, very few actual details, some terrible half truths, and a negative tone from the get go. He didn't take the time to do the review, he took the time to do a hatchet job on a product and offer nothing of value.
43. raunak (Posts: 505; Member since: 12 Oct 2011)
"This site is a great place for news, rumors and editorials. But the reviews here are incredibly inconsistent, follow no set parameters that I've been able to see"
I have been saying this for as long I have been commenting here. This especially applies to their camera comparisons.
75. corporateJP (Posts: 1557; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)
"Remember Meego?" and "product that flopped" are just plain incorrect on the reviewer's part.
The N9 "flopped" because it was never allowed to succeed, thanks to new-at-the-time CEO Stephen Elop.
Meego has quite a cult following out there, just like Ubuntu does, and the Sailfish team is evidence of this.
This site has become so biased due to big dog money being tossed at it, whether it's Microsoft, Samsung, Apple or whoever. Nobody will succeed outside of this realm if people base opinions off of what they learn here.
Jolla has a way to go, yes. But I am rooting for them. This is a first product, there will be hiccups. But wisecrack statements with no evidence to back it up tied to a two rating make you guys look like a bunch of marks.
And, if you hate the phone so much, send it to me, I'll make better use of it than any of you would with all your free test and demo devices you end up giving to your hipster friends and family members.
111. cripton805 (Posts: 942; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
Honestly, this phone is as horrible as it sounds. This is something you would see as a prototype. One of the first if I should say. It is a horrible device for $550 regardless of what OS its running. I'm amazed by some of you people defending it. The company should be ashamed of releasing a product like this. I feel bad for anybody that gets suckered into buying it.
122. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 968; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
tbh if you go on talk.maemo.com you'll see that meego is more alive then it seems we have sailfish we have opened our own app store we have nitdroid running on it which is android we have tweaks that overlay is entire software bug fixes and improvements by the community apps still being worked on !
11. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 746; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
This is why I'd much rather go to GSMArena for a FAIR review
21. dratomic (Posts: 463; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)
gsmarena is the best. and i buy my phones based on their reviews and have never been disapointed
15. _Bone_ (Posts: 2132; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Bit harsh, but I guess per review standards, true.
|Display||4.5 inches, 540 x 960 pixels (245 ppi) IPS LCD|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Dual core, 1400 MHz, Krait 200 processor
1024 MB RAM
|Size||5.16 x 2.68 x 0.39 inches|
(131 x 68 x 9.9 mm)
4.97 oz (141 g)
|Battery||2100 mAh, 9 hours talk time|