Jolla hands-on: Is Sailfish the OS you've been waiting for?

Jolla hands-on: Is Sailfish the OS you've been waiting for?

Summary: After two years of waiting, the ex-Nokians' MeeGo-powered smartphone is finally here. Is it any good?


 |  Image 6 of 15

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Thumbnail 11
  • Thumbnail 12
  • Thumbnail 13
  • Thumbnail 14
  • Thumbnail 15
  • The camera is distinctly average, and struggles in low light.

  • However, no-one's going to buy a Jolla for its uninspiring camera — the device's chief appeal is likely to be its operating system, Sailfish, which was developed by Jolla using the MeeGo OS abandoned by Nokia in 2011.

    There are a couple of major differences between Sailfish and most other well-known smartphones OSes. There are very few taps required in Sailfish, for one, which has both its benefits and drawbacks.

    In the lock screen, for example, there are icons in the top left hand side displaying notifications like missed calls or emails received. However, none of them are clickable – if you want to find out who sent you that missed calls, you'll have to thumb your way to another screen.

  • There's also no back button either, which can be frustrating when you've accidentally exited an app or webpage you were working on. While in most cases your last-used or most-popular app will be brought to the front of the homescreen (above), due to the beta nature of the OS, you can sometimes find yourself several unintuitive swipes away from where you left off.

    Exiting an app when you didn't mean to is easier than you might think, given the other major difference between Sailfish and other OSes: its vertical nature.

    Rather than scrolling left to, say, move from the homescreen to an app, with Sailfish, it's a case of moving downwards.

Topics: Smartphones, Mobile OS

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • An interesting intellectual exercise

    But one with a commercial future only if it is compatible with the Android runtime, similar to what BlackBerry has done. There really isn't room now for more ecosystems.
    • It's good to have a phone that's not Google, Apple, Microsoft

      I would buy a Sailfish OS phone.

      I don't like how Google, Apple and Microsoft gave my personal information to the NSA.

      Sailfish OS offers an alternative for people who don't want to be locked those other companies' ecosystems. The openness of Sailfish OS will attract developers.
      • Unlikely

        Not on the "let's put 100,000 apps in there" scale. Android is open source - it is entirely possible for them to support the Dalvik runtime without emailing your grocery list to Larry Page.
      • Very doubtful it will attract significant developers

        People complain about google's lack of openness, and fragmentation, but they are walking the line necessary for success.
        I'm all for open software where it makes sense but this has zero chance of any commercial success. Just like all the variants of this OS that came before. There's a reason richard stallman is poor, completely rejecting anything closed and proprietary for any reason. Never mind the struggle windows phone backed by billions of dollars has had. Good luck for this.
    • and how many consumers care if it they can run android apps on

      a non-android phone other than some anti-google zealots. All they will notice is stuff runs more poorly on it and the benefits of the google integration are missing. Android is more than a pile of individual apps.
    • I think there is room for one more...

      ...And that one is the Web. FFOS, ChromOS, Tizen, are all "Web-Based" and I suspect that, in the long run, this ecosystem will subsume all others.
      x I'm tc
    • It is compatible

      The android store they chose to pre-install is Yandex...
      Note: the amazon store app may be downloaded from yandex.

      Also, in 48hrs of the first 450 sales a download is available to add google play.

      to me thats a basic install/test and write the install doc.

      I really can't see how is can be any more compatible...

      Also it provides its own developer kit so there lots of options.
      you can upload your android apps directly to Jollas store if you like no mods so good too.

      For the end user and developer or open-source types this is a great all-rounder.
  • Can't wait for mine

    I pre-ordered mine long ago. Can't wait for it to arrive. Not sure why I wasn't included in the first 450 as I pre-ordered the moment these guys enabled pre-ordering.
  • Could they make it any uglier??

    That is an ugly device with an uglier UI that tries to merge WP, iOS and Android into one ... and fails miserably.

    MeGo was a nice OS ... this crap is depressively ugly.
  • I'm ready to spend my 399 coins for Jolla

    I did really love to communicate with my Symbian phones.
    Neither my Android 4.2 Phone nor iPhone 5 are still equal for me to my old Nokia N8 and even very old Nokia E66 in user experience, external communication facilities, offline navigation, multitasking, powersaving and the feeling of trust, that the system is not spying for you more than you ready to endure, etc.
    So I'm waiting for Jolla phone made with european mind and european ergonomics (I'm seek and tired of american image of improvement, all this WP8 tiles, MS Office Stripes, Android apps updates all-day-long one worse than another, unstoppable syncro with Clouds and so on)
  • Jolla is for users and ex-users of Symbian and Meego phones

    There are STILL a lot of things that worked fluently on old Symbian and that hardly work or missed at all on other platforms. Hope Sailfish will bring more sense in user experience improvements than these three whales Android, iOS and WP (the latest is more like dolphin nowadays)
  • nope

    Bb10 does it for me
  • Choice... what Jolla brings to the game and is what consumers want. I don't want to go into a store a be stuck with only 3 choices.
    a hobbit
  • It looks good, but:

    My choice for an alternative to "the big 3" would still be Ubuntu, because it seems (at least from pictures) to accomplish what Microsoft is trying to achieve, which is a unified experience on desktop and mobile. Android would still be my first choice, though, would still be Android, as long as my phone or tablet in question were Google Play-certified.
    Richard Estes
    • Oops. I repeated myself.

      Sorry about that.
      Richard Estes
  • I don't see...

    any value with this device; it reminds me of a wannabe iPhone 3...
  • Hey, Wow !

    Boy did your editors throw you to the dogs by dictating a 'Slide Show' article. ALL responsible journals have an option to 'View as one Page'. This publication continuously refuses to do this. In doing so, they are also tainting your career as writer / journalist.
    Leo Regulus
  • Tired of things with "cutesy" names

    I'm sure Jolla is probably a Finish word for something, but "sailfish OS" has to be the worst name for a product ever.

    I'm really tired of these "cutesy" names for technology products.


    The list goes on and on. Can't we go back to the old days when names actually sort of said something about what the product was? Christ, even something like "MobileStar 9000 OS" sounds better than Sailfish OS?
  • Competition is always good

    I am always happy to see viable competition for products such as this, both HW and OS. Consumers end up the greatest of beneficiaries in the end!