Has Jolla really delivered on its promise?

jolla-sailfish-phoneIs it May already? It was a year ago that I, along with many others, put down my deposit to make sure I got one of the first Jollas that came off the production line. I knew there was going to be a long wait and sure enough they delivered as promised in time for Christmas. So, I’ve had the phone now for around 5 months but I’m still undecided as to whether they’ve delivered on what they promised.

I’ll point out at this point that whilst I’m an early adopter of technology I’m a user and not a coder – I see the benefits that a piece of technology can (or cannot) deliver equally I can see flaws and things that are missing but I can’t fix it myself 😦

+ I am totally supportive of their drive to deliver a “new” operating system – Sailfish which has so many really neat touches and which seems to require far less battery power than the competition – that said just about every screen of the UI features a black/dark background which as we all know requires far less power than some of the flashy, colourful, maybe even garish Android OS versions out there!

+ I’m so used to the guesture control that the experience of using my Nexus 7 tablet has suffered – I keep tapping the damn thing to try and get it to wake up!!! That said I’m becoming more at ease using my touch screen Windows 8.1 laptop!!!

– But on the other hand I do frequently find that I have to flick up the lock screen more than once before I get it to display the next screen properly as it keeps rebounding!! The home screen where the running apps are displayed is an absolutely brilliant feature but one I’ve yet to use properly – with running apps come data costs and my work sim means those are limited :(.

– I’m generally not sold on the “severity” of the look of the UI. Apps such as the calendar app which display a series of numbers – you need to pull down the page to reveal the days they relate to – are so far behind other apps such as the beautifully presented Cal android app – sadly that app doesn’t work properly with my Jolla….it doesn’t “see” the calendars on the device.

+ When they did the original launch I thought the concept of “The Other Half” [TOH] was brilliant – just brilliant. You get bored with your phone you change how is looks and what it offers you – there was also mention of independent people being able to develop their own TOHs – really cool, hey I was up for that!!

– Unfortunately the reality of the TOH has fallen a long way short of the potential. I’ve got several TOHs but all they do is change the colour scheme and the sounds a bit like an Android theme changer but you have to swop the backs and it costs you more… There have been some interesting TOHs proposed and there have been prototypes but there aren’t any really top notch TOHs out there yet – and it’s been a year….

+ That said I totally exclude this from that analysis – perhaps it’s the exception that proves the rule.  Kimmo Lindholm‘s TOHOLED is brilliant! In fact the man seems to be exactly the kind of innovator that Jolla were thinking about when they came up with the TOH concept. Shame there aren’t more like him.  This is such a great idea. Now, if it could be fed some steroids it could become a full sized e-ink rear display and the death knell for the YOTA phone!! I’ll also give an honourable mention to Dirk van Leersum at Funky Other Half . com – even if he didn’t use my suggestion for his logo – I’ve got his wireless charging TOH and it works a charm!!

+ Regular updates – again brilliant thinking. Guy Kawasaki said once “Create something, sell it, make it better, sell it some more and then create something that obsoletes what you used to make.” He also said “Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” This could said to be true for the Jolla phone. OK it’s not a piece of crap but equally it’s not perfect and the use of regular updates helps make it better.

– On the flip side is the actual content of those updates. There’s a whole community of users feeding in their needs and wants but unfortunately there seems to be a disconnect between them and the updates themselves. Now that maybe due to the “purity” of thinking that the key Jolla personnel have about the project but it still means that even though they are now publishing what
future updates will contain there are still some glaring omissions – folder support for apps and galleries, LTE support, syncing with Google accounts (partially solved) and it took several updates before MMS was released. The most recent snapshot of opinion is on the community forum of particular interest to me is the connection issue when switching from wifi to mobile data, or from areas of no network coverage to those with it. There are still too many issues for me to be completely happy with my purchase.

So what are the alternatives….? If I decide to jump ship…..

Well as of today there are 3 that intrigue me – I’ve done the big manufacturer route [feature rich but boring (Samsung) and locked down walled garden (Apple)] – so they are – in no particular order:

Yota phone



The Yota phone makes it onto the list due to its innovative e-ink rear screen. The Ubuntu phone – or phones it seems to be – look interesting but hard details on them are still to be confirmed. Slim, sleek and feature rich the OnePlus One from Cyanogenmod seems to be the strongest choice.

As I said at the beginning the jury’s still out – there are new updates on the way for the Jolla phone, hopefully the band of busy bees working on innovative TOHs will see their projects come to fruition and Jolla will take its rightful place amongst the major mobile phone providers – the clock is however ticking – the early adopter in me may see something new and shiny that takes my fancy in which case it would be a shame because I’m just the sort of person that Jolla needs to help them move from geek to greater market share.

Watch this space!!

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