Jolla smartphone: The rebel one

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Updated: January 24, 2019 3:01:21 PM

Jolla phone's Sailfish OS works with your natural movements to give you a good in-hand phone experience.

Jolla smartphone is a value for money experimental product that can soon became a wide sensation.Jolla smartphone is a value for money experimental product that can soon became a wide sensation.

With a flurry of phones making their way into the Indian market, consumers are looking at more unique products be it design or feature-wise. This is where Jolla fills the void. The Finnish startup has recently introduced a smartphone into the market powered by the all new self-developed Sailfish OS (Linux-based) offering consumers an alternative to Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and iOS platforms.

Why are we calling it the rebel one? That is a small note in history which says—Jolla was founded by former-Nokia employees involved with the development of MeeGo OS and the ill-fated Nokia N9 phone it powered. The group of employees decided to take forward the Linux-based OS to the next level and ensure that it doesn’t die a death of oblivion following Nokia’s abandonment of MeeGo and then finally the company ending up being bought over by Microsoft. Another interesting fact about Jolla is that it launched the phone in India knowing fully well that the large share of the still maturing smartphone market is dominated by Google’s Android OS.

Before getting into the specifications and other details about the phone it is important to understand that Jolla offers something unique. The phone operates only on gestures and the company claims that the phone can be used with only one hand curtailing the fussy handling of several rival companies. Here is what we found about Jolla once we took a sneak peek under the hood.

Design: Well, Jolla isn’t a pretty girl but it is not downright ugly as well. It looks more like a muscle-boy built in two parts kind of like a sandwich. The front half has rounded sides and is flat on the top and bottom, while the other half is just the opposite making the look a lot like the Nokia N9. Although the phone has no touch buttons at the front in the lower panel or at the side, there is a lot of plastic around the screen making the front face totally blank. A notification LED is cleverly disguised on the lower front and the physical buttons and ports are all in predictable places on the top and right but as mentioned earlier all software interaction happens using gestures.

Display: Surprisingly the Jolla delivers more than expected picture quality. It sports a 4.5 inch qHD display with an IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 16M colours that delivers 245 ppi pixel density. Also, Jolla uses a multitouch input method for its touchscreen with a maximum upto five fingers. Coming to the camera, the phone features an 8 MP rear camera alongside an LED flash, and a 2 MP front-facing camera as well. Although the camera app offers a number of granular settings but misses out on Panorama and HDR modes. It takes decent pictures and selfies in daylight and the back camera also supports full HD video recording but the quality is not excellent.

Hardware and performance: Don’t undermine the phone just by its simple sandwich looks. With a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM under the hood, the Jolla comes with 16 GB storage expandable via microSD card to 64 GB. Almost 13.7 GB storage is available to the end users after the purchase. Navigating across the home screen, launching and switching between apps appeared to be very smooth. In short, the hardware is well optimised for the Jolla OS and you don’t come across stutter or lag while using native apps. Casual Android games like Cut the Rope and Subway Surfers run smoothly but we were not able to install games such as Riptide GP 2 or Asphalt 8 due to requirement of additional files not available via third-party Android app stores.

Connectivity: The phone supports 2G, 3G and also 4G via any micro-SIM. It also sports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB along with the NFC feature. The phone comes with GPS and A-GPS for navigation and maps and was easily able to lock a signal. Coming to battery life, the 2100mAh battery of the phone helps in achieving a respectable backup. With the phone’s brightness set to automatic and intermittent use of WiFi and 3G, the phone lasted a full day (9-10 hours) with usage comprising few hours of phone calls, casual gaming, an hour of web browsing and accessing Twitter and Facebook, in addition to clicking a few pictures.

Software:  This is the most strongest and most unique feature of the phone. It operates on the Sailfish OS—an open source platform based on MeeGo that also supports Android apps. The navigation is totally gesture based, somewhat like BlackBerry 10. The user unlocks the phone via a double tap gesture and then navigates across three different screen panels—the lock screen displays the time, notifications and status bars, the second one is the Home screen that presents a live view of running apps and the third one is Launcher that features app shortcuts. To exit apps users need to swipe from the left edge towards the right or vice versa, explore additional options and settings by swiping towards the bottom and get notifications by swiping towards the top. Swiping to the left takes the user back a step in navigation.

The phone ships with the Jolla store and some preloaded Android apps including Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapdeal apps. The Android apps come with a navigation bar with a back button but also support the swipe to exit gesture. Another core strength of Jolla is its integrated Messages app. It reminds you of the Windows Phone messaging app but this one also brings in support for Google Hangouts in addition to Facebook Messenger and XMPP-based services. Messages are received and send instantly and you can see all your communication threads on a single screen.

Verdict: A value for money experimental product that can soon became a wide sensation due to the gesture-based approach.

Estimated street price: Rs 16,499

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