Jolla Phone

Jolla was formed by those responsible for the Linux-based N770, N800, N810, N900, N9 (and other variants) running Maemo/MeeGo who found themselves surplus to requirements at Nokia as an indirect result of the Burning Platform memo in 2011. The “Burning Platform” memo was issued by the venerable Stephen Elop upon joining Nokia and soon after, his decision to phase out deployment of non-Microsoft based Operating Systems in new Nokia devices followed.

Core specs: 

4.5” display
Dual Core4G (LTE)
16GB + MicroSD expansion
8MP camera

Months (and much teasing) later, the Jolla phone has finally been announced. Exact specifications have yet to surface, but the optimistic among us are hoping this is because Jolla are pushing for better hardware when the device actually ships (which is slated as Q4 2013). The currently available specs aren’t exactly jaw dropping, but given the advertised contract free price of EUR399, they are reasonable (and until further notice, not finalized either).

Interchangeable Backplate/Battery

Until the days of 10-day standby time return to us, I will always consider a user replaceable battery an enormous plus point. The limited number of countries officially supported by Jolla at the time of writing does negate this somewhat though, since their batteries will be difficult to come by (at least until the supported country list grows). Stocking up on batteries when you order your Jolla device may be a good idea, even more so if you are outside of their coverage areas.

Android App Compliance

Some say this makes Jolla a me-too device. Personally, I think this is true. However, Jolla is now a me-too device that has more apps available than Windows Phone, is cheaper than most flagship Android devices, and is more exclusive than iOS devices; a fairly respectable combination.

No HW Camera Button

One of the things that annoys me about most current devices is the lack of a hardware camera button. There’s just something familiar about the two-step focus and then snap of a proper shutter button that is lacking when tapping on a touchscreen. Single handed operation also becomes somewhat “difficult” without the hardware shutter button. Maybe someday there will be improvements to the UI that make it possible to wobble about on a bicycle while taking decent photos without the hardware camera button…

Hardware

As mentioned earlier, this probably isn’t a device you can go about flexing your spec muscles over. The unfortunate truth is that the “Bigger Numbers in Every Column is Better” has been hammered into consumers for so long that this will undoubtedly play against Jolla regardless of what they do in terms of marketing. Some may vaguely remember the difficulties AMD faced a long, long time ago when the original Athlon line was introduced; it was better and faster than the Intel equivalents, yet, consumers assumed Intel was faster and better than AMD for years to come. It’s slightly different in this case, since any Jolla devices after the already announced device could easily have state of the art hardware, but it still very much holds true for the current device.

The other thing worth taking note of, is that up until recently, SailfishOS (which is what powers the upcoming Jolla device) had only been demoed on the Nokia N950. The N950 itself had what was considered aged hardware when it was launched – a single core 1GHz CPU along with 1GB of RAM. Based on the very respectable performance of SailfishOS on that dated hardware, it’s fairly safe to assume that SailfishOS will fly on the hardware Jolla is planning on pairing it with. It’s unfortunate that despite this, Jolla will likely face an uphill battle winning over the majority of consumers who assume that larger numbers in various columns of the spec sheet are better; when the reality is that the only reason the larger numbers are necessary is because of the bloat inhabiting most Android devices.

The Other Half

There is much speculation to what The Other Half actually is, and Jolla itself has done very little to clear this up. Leaving geeks alone with speculation can only result in:

Ridiculous ideas
Disappointment

For the most part, speculation up to this point has been largely focused on the upcoming Jolla device being expandable via The Other Half. I’m still undecided on whether allowing the speculation/confusion to continue for extended periods of time is wise on Jolla’s part; disappointment (especially to those who pre-ordered) is the last thing Jolla needs at launch. At the same time, if even a portion of the ideas the geeks came up with turn out to be implemented in the final product, The Other Half could turn out to be the next One More Thing. Of course, all the speculation could be completely unfounded, and The Other Half could just as easily be nothing more than a plastic backplate with a fancy name.

In a nutshell, Jolla is at the bottom of a very large hill, but if they do manage to overcome this hurdle, I really do feel that they’ll be able to punch it out with the big boys. However, if people don’t buy into the first Jolla device (we would have bought one but it didn’t have -Insert Random Item Here-), the amazing momentum they have generated so far may start to slow and start them down a slippery slope. Me? I’d rather have a Jolla device with a hardware keyboard (and a hardware camera shutter button), but I’ve pre-ordered one anyway. Why? At the end of the day, Jolla is still starting out… and if those who have supported the Maemo/MeeGo cause for ages don’t buy into it, it’s conceivable that any chance of that Jolla device with a hardware keyboard we’d all love would go up in smoke whether or not it’s in development, along with Jolla.



Darryl B