Jolla Smartphone Review
Takes decent daytime photos, but struggles in low light.
On the back of the Jolla smartphone we find an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash. One can easily access its interface either by launching the camera app from the home screen, or using the shortcut in the phone's swipe-down menu. Once there, we're treated to a clean, minimalist UI with no bells and whistles anywhere in sight. There are some manual controls – we're allowed to change the focusing mode or tweak the white balance, but that's pretty much it. There's no built-in panorama feature, and there's no HDR either. Oh well. At least the camera app is dead simple to use. On second thought, there are several things that could have been made better. The resolution setting, for example, is found in the Settings menu, not in the Camera app. But the thing we are much more frustrated with is the shutter sound. Well, not the actual sound itself, but the delay between the moment it goes off, and the moment when the photo is captured. In other words, you hear the click half a second in advance, so by the time the photo gets taken, you might have already moved.
Anyway, given favorable conditions, the Jolla phone is well capable of taking decent, presentable photos. Sure, they are a tad noisy and the fuzzy details don't look nice at 100% zoom, but all in all, the phone's daytime shots are definitely share-worthy. Colors have a neutral tone to them and don't really pop out, but they do look close enough to the way they do in real life. The only thing we find annoying is that while tapping on an area of the frame shifts the focus onto it, the exposure doesn't get adjusted accordingly.
Low light photos, however, are barely usable. They are noisy, blurry, and the auto-focus often refuses to cooperate. The LED light might help to a certain extent, but it often messes up with the color balance, rendering the image much colder than it should be.
The Jolla smartphone can capture videos at resolution of 1920 by 1088 pixels, but their quality is far from inspiring. Details are poor, noise is abundant, and objects in motion don't move very smoothly. As you might guess, it gets even worse under low-light conditions because of the even poorer details and the horrible motion blur.
Nothing but the basics.
We find a humble, basic Gallery application pre-loaded on the Jolla smartphone. It lets us browse the image- and video-containing folders in the phone's storage and the photos we've shared on our social networks. Thumbnails of the images in these folders are organized in tiles of a fixed size. Sadly, there's little that the Gallery app can do. It lets us share images on Facebook or over Bluetooth, but there's no image editing tools and there's no way of posting multiple photos at the same time.
The Music player is not very advanced either. Actually, we didn't even get one out of the box so we downloaded one that is in Jolla's list of recommended apps. It gets the job done, but it lacks fancy perks like an equalizer or the option to set a song as a ringtone. It is nice that we can control music playback from the app's tile in the list of running apps since it kind of acts as a widget.
There's a single loudspeaker built into the Jolla phone. It is placed at the bottom of the device so it is not uncommon for the user to obstruct its opening by accident. The loudness of the speaker is average and there's not even a hint of lower-frequency tones, but at least the sound is very clear.
You have to be very desperate if you resort to watching videos on the Jolla smartphone. The screen is fit for the purpose, but the software isn't. Videos of up to 1080p resolution are played through the gallery app and not all popular formats are supported. Furthermore, the UI lacks any features that go beyond fast-forwarding and it did crash on us a couple of times. YouTube videos can be watched by opening the YouTube web site in the web browser, which is better than having no YouTube at all.