updated 05:54 am EST, Tue February 25, 2014
Angular Sailfish OS smartphone navigated with minimal thumb movement
After an initial launch in May followed by the first shipments occurring in November, Jolla has had a few quarters to get its initial Sailfish OS smartphone to a level where it can attempt to compete with devices from more established producers. The company showed Electronista its flagship smartphone, which appears to have taken great lengths to avoid being compared to other smartphones both in hardware and in software.
Eschewing the rounded corners and soft lines others have taken, Jolla opts for an angular design for its handset, with the edges having a pronounced seam where the removable back cover meets the main body. The 4.5-inch 960x540 display is small but not cramped, though the darker shades used by the operating system made it difficult to judge the display's overall brightness.
The company is offering a variety of back covers that can be easily removed and replaced with others, with connections between the phone and the cover allowing for special content to be viewed or the phone to be set up in a specific way.
The MeeGo-based Sailfish OS, is drastically different from other operating systems, with most of the software's functionality driven through enabling one-handed usage. Swiping from the left or right edge to the center brings the user back to the main menu, with a center-to-side swipe brings users back, and a vertical downward swipe when the top edge is glowing brings down an extra menu with the item selected by how far down you pull the menu itself.
Due to its relative newness, Jolla has added the ability to run Android apps in the smartphone, with apps sourced from Jolla's own store and Yandex. A quick test of Skype showed it to have the same appearance as the normal Android version, with the software automatically adding extra software buttons at the bottom of the screen to add the extra typical Android functionality, such as the back button.
Jolla is an interesting prospect and is a marked departure from the other smartphones being shown at Mobile World Congress. While the extra content and features triggered by the back cover may be a misfire at present, it could turn into something far more useful, and the rest of what the device offers is also fairly strong. The future success of the device will likely hinge on the company's ability to extend the software even further, such as recently adding ISO options to its camera app after receiving user feedback, as well as providing more support for its back-cover.