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Jolla Smartphone Review

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Interface

Colorful, minimalist, but navigation gestures take a long while to get used to.

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. What does that have to do with Jolla's smartphone? Well, the handset happens to be the first to launch runing Sailfish OS, which is an emerging platform based on that same MeeGo operating system. In other words, we're dealing with an underdog mobile operating system built upon a product that flopped. But let's give it a chance anyway.

The user interface of Sailfish OS is colorful, minimalist, and pleasant to look at. It is also very different from iOS, Android, or Windows Phone for it is controlled mostly using gestures instead of physical or on-screen buttons. Thankfully, these are explained to the user when the phone is turned on for the first time, and one is free to launch the guide again at the later time since it is available as an app.

We've been using the Jolla smartphone for several days now, and as much as we're trying to force ourselves to like its gesture-based navigation, we're still finding it a tad frustrating. This might change given enough usage time, but currently, we can't say that we're feeling right at home. If you're coming from iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, prepare to face a steep learning curve.

Still, there are things about Sailfish that we like, including some of the implemented gestures. The phone can be woken up from stand-by with a double tap on the screen, and the notifications panel is at the bottom, which makes getting to it very convenient.

Widgets are absent from Sailfish OS. When you minimize an app, however, it goes to a separate screen where it can be interacted with using gestures or buttons placed on its tile – a very elegant solution. Speaking of minimizing apps, Sailfish is built to support live multitasking, which is definitely an advantage. In other words, minimized apps are still active, not frozen indefinitely.

Functionality

Basics are covered, but there's a serious lack of apps.

The list of apps available on the Jolla store is very short. This shouldn't be a problem, however, since Sailfish can run Android software. Right? Well, it isn't that simple. You see, to get Android apps onto the Jolla smartphone, we had to download the Yandex app store, which currently has only about 85,000 apps. Many popular apps are missing from its catalog – there's Fruit Ninja and Twitter, but Angry Birds and the official Facebook client, for example, aren't available. Furthermore, Android support still seems to be rather shaky, so expect games to run at mediocre framerates. App crashes aren't out of the question.

As for the stock Sailfish OS apps, the dialer and the contacts list are both minimalist, without much going on in terms of advanced features. But they get their job done and we don't find them lacking anything of essence. Now would be a good time to mention that Sailfish OS plays along well with Google, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, so we had no troubles importing our existing contacts. As soon as we logged in, new emails and notifications from our FB feed started popping up in the notifications panel.

The messaging application is used to send plain old SMS messages, but it has Facebook messenger integration as well so it can be used to shoot free texts over to your FB buddies. One annoying thing about it is the lack of a button for attaching items to the message. To send a picture, we have to use the Gallery app instead.

The phone's on-screen keyboard is well laid out, with large enough keys and built-in word prediction. The absence of a landscape layout, however, is puzzling.

Processor and memory

The dual-core Snapdragon 400 gets the job done.

There's nothing in terms of processor specs that the Jolla smartphone can impress us with. Under its hood ticks a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 SoC with two Krait 200 CPU cores and Adreno 305 graphics. One gig of RAM can also be found there. The good news, however, is that Sailfish runs fine on this otherwise mid-range hardware configuration. The OS is responsive and doesn't stutter, although the UI's framerate is clearly far from reaching the 60fps mark. With a little effort, you should even be able to run some not very demanding games on the device.

Storage space on board the Jolla phone is limited to 16GB, out of which 13.8GB are available. Those who need extra space are free to pop in a microSD card in there.

Web Browser and connectivity

Core web browser functionality, no bells and whistles.

Sailfish comes with a pre-loaded web browser built on top of Mozilla's open source Gecko browser engine. All in all, the app gets the job done, but it is frustrating to use with its unintuitive interface and it can be slow with heavier pages. Navigation on our home page, for example, is hindered by the slow page rendering while scrolling or zooming. The browser's list of features is somewhat short. You can bookmark pages, Google stuff from the address bar, open multiple tabs (once you figure out how, that is), share pages, and that's pretty much it. Text doesn't inflate so get used to doing lots of pinch-ins and pinch-outs while surfing the web. Text reflow is also out of the question. Thankfully, Opera Mini is available for download from the Yandex store – some users might find it easier to use than the stock browser app.

The Jolla smartphone is a 4G-enabled handset with LTE support for a limited number of carriers “on 6 continents”. Naturally, 3G HSPA connectivity is also supported, although we aren't sure what's the peak downlink rate of the phone's radio. You also get all the mandatory stuff, such as Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS with GLONASS compatibility, and Bluetooth 4.0. Technically, NFC is also present, but it is used for pairing the handset with its case and we couldn't get it to do anything beyond that. Full-blown NFC support, however, could come one day through the use of an other half built for the purpose.

134 Comments
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posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:05 13

1. Reality_Check (Posts: 245; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)


Man that's brutal !! :P

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:32 16

14. akki20892 (Posts: 3234; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Sometimes they need good Reviewer. This Is childish review. Sometimes I see fanism.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:48 21

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'.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:15 15

29. Skoms (Posts: 118; Member since: 03 Feb 2014)


This is better than WP8

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:45 4

37. NokiaFTW (Posts: 1667; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


Hahahahaha that was funny! LOL! +1

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:54 2

41. papss (unregistered)


Nice trolling skoms.. So cleaver and has nothing to do with this phone.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 11:13

85. Dastrix (Posts: 570; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


Sure, 2/10 is better than 9/10. How's math for you?

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:23 3

58. akki20892 (Posts: 3234; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


2 out of 10, men think about it, this is out of limits.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 11:59 1

90. ihavenoname (Posts: 1241; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 12:49 1

95. saurik (Posts: 86; Member since: 13 May 2013)


I need John V. to wipe my tears.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 16:36 1

99. downphoenix (Posts: 2266; 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.

posted on 16 Feb 2014, 14:52

125. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 879; 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

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:38 4

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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:32 3

34. chunky1x (Posts: 162; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)


Brutal is a conservative term. There are no words that could ever describe this review on the planet.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:12 7

48. Johnnokia (Posts: 459; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:52 8

65. cripton805 (Posts: 907; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 10:14 4

71. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 16:49

100. downphoenix (Posts: 2266; 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 22:04

121. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 879; 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 !

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 12:14

91. PAPINYC (Posts: 2171; 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!!

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 21:39 1

105. -box- (Posts: 3707; 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 11:07 1

115. great (Posts: 56; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)


phonearena.... why so serious !?

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:07 4

2. Sesameopen (Posts: 105; Member since: 02 Aug 2013)


Lowest score on PA up to date.

Damn I was actually thinking about getting this.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:00 8

25. mobi_user (Posts: 105; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:55 1

42. papss (unregistered)


So they instead made a pos OS with even worse hardware.. Awesome

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:13 7

28. Bernoulli (Posts: 1432; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:07 12

44. PBXtech (Posts: 966; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


Still stuck on the lag comments, sad.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 10:20 3

72. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 02:59

109. Bernoulli (Posts: 1432; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


Yep... that's why I moved away from android

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:11 8

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

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 03:07 1

110. Bernoulli (Posts: 1432; 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

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 11:00

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

posted on 18 Feb 2014, 19:18

131. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3865; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 12:34 7

92. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2097; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:10 3

3. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5042; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


2 out of 10? Really? Jolla is gonna kick PA's a**.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:22 1

9. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 686; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)


Not if everyone else kicks it first

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:11

4. Andrewtst (Posts: 286; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Wow! Score of 2 !!!

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:12 7

5. power_x (Posts: 204; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)


only 2/10 ??????
i feel sorry for the people who worked so hard on developing this phone

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:30 9

13. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 686; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)


You should feel sorry for the consumers who are manipulated into thinking that this is a terrible product

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:40 4

17. SleepingOz (unregistered)


GSMArena did a preview of this a while ago, and they came to the same conclusion as PA.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:55 4

22. jellmoo (Posts: 617; 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).

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:58 2

24. buccob (Posts: 1300; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


well I rarely trust PA reviews... but this is definitely not an outstanding product either... specially for the price

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:16 10

6. lucid.brat (Posts: 79; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


PA how much does Sammy and apple pay u????

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:18 8

7. muser793 (Posts: 40; 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...

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:22 1

8. X.E.R.O. (unregistered)


Harsh!

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:23 20

10. jellmoo (Posts: 617; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:46 7

19. sbw44 (Posts: 361; Member since: 04 Dec 2012)


Some reviewers are really Pathetic!

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:08 5

45. xoatomxo (Posts: 56; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:12 2

49. akki20892 (Posts: 3234; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


sometimes review numbers have limits.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:13 2

50. xoatomxo (Posts: 56; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:33 6

61. jellmoo (Posts: 617; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 08:56 7

43. raunak (Posts: 494; 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.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 10:25 3

75. corporateJP (Posts: 1515; 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 04:45

111. cripton805 (Posts: 907; 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.

posted on 15 Feb 2014, 22:17

122. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 879; 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 !

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:24 17

11. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 686; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)


This is why I'd much rather go to GSMArena for a FAIR review

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:50 7

21. dratomic (Posts: 426; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)


gsmarena is the best. and i buy my phones based on their reviews and have never been disapointed

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 09:14 3

51. akki20892 (Posts: 3234; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


i agree. they have mature reviewers.

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:29 2

12. hkxm8 (Posts: 42; Member since: 08 Apr 2012)


Lower than asha 503. What a shock!!!

posted on 14 Feb 2014, 07:33

15. _Bone_ (Posts: 2103; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Bit harsh, but I guess per review standards, true.

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Display4.5 inches, 540 x 960 pixels (245 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Dual core, 1400 MHz, Krait 200 processor
1024 MB RAM
Size5.16 x 2.68 x 0.39 inches
(131 x 68 x 9.9 mm)
4.97 oz  (141 g)
Battery2100 mAh, 9 hours talk time

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