Jolla Smartphone Review

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.

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118 Comments

1. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Man that's brutal !! :P

14. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

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

20. rangaha

Posts: 86; Member since: Dec 05, 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'.

29. Skoms

Posts: 118; Member since: Feb 03, 2014

This is better than WP8

37. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Hahahahaha that was funny! LOL! +1

41. papss unregistered

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

85. Dastrix unregistered

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

58. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

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

90. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 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.

95. saurik

Posts: 86; Member since: May 13, 2013

I need John V. to wipe my tears.

99. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 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: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 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: 91; Member since: Jul 04, 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: 270; Member since: Mar 28, 2010

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

48. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 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: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 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: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 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: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

iAgree, iL♥ve this new iPhone 6; there's no need for such a horrific review, that's just unprofessional!!

105. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 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.

115. great

Posts: 85; Member since: Jan 21, 2013

phonearena.... why so serious !?

2. Sesameopen

Posts: 109; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

Lowest score on PA up to date. Damn I was actually thinking about getting this.

25. mobi_user

Posts: 152; Member since: Jun 18, 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

3. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

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

9. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

Not if everyone else kicks it first

4. Andrewtst

Posts: 696; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Wow! Score of 2 !!!

5. power_x

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

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

13. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

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

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Smartphone
  • Display 4.5" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2100 mAh(10h 3G talk time)

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