Jolla came about towards the end of 2011, an indirect result of the Burning Platform memo issued by the venerable Stephen Elop upon joining Nokia and his decision to phase out deployment of non Microsoft based Operating Systems in new Nokia devices. The core of the Jolla team were essentially those responsible for the Linux based N770, N800, N810, N900, N9 (and other variants) running Maemo and eventually MeeGo.
- 4.5” display
- Dual Core
- 4G (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 currently 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). The other thing worth taking note of is that up until recently, SailfishOS (which is what powers the upcoming Jolla device) has only been demoed on the Nokia N950, itself introduced with aged hardware for the time – 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 pairing it with. It’s unfortunate that despite this, Jolla will likely face an uphill battle winning over the vast 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.
Until the days of 10 day standby time return to us, I will always consider a user replaceable battery an enormous plus point. The question of where to get a spare battery does negate this plus point somewhat though, the limited availability of Jolla worldwide will undoubtedly mean their batteries will be just as difficult to come by. Stocking up on batteries when you pick up 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. Add build quality (which is yet to be known), and you have a fairly respectable device as far as I’m concerned.
No HW Camera Button
One of the biggest things that annoys me about most current devices is the lack of a hardware camera button. There’s just something about the two step focus, snap of a proper shutter button that has become so familiar (maybe just to me), not to mention single handed operation does become somewhat “difficult” without that hardware shutter button. Maybe someday there’ll be improvements to the UI that somehow make it possible to wobble about on a bicycle while taking decent photos without the hardware camera button, but until then I’ll remain attached to my hardware button.
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, and yet, consumers would assume Intel was faster and better than AMD for years to come. Obviously, it’s slightly different in this case, since any Jolla devices following the already announced device could easily have state of the art hardware, but it still very much holds true for the current device.
In a nutshell, Jolla is at the bottom of a very large hill, but if they do manage to overcome this initial 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 much 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 people like me who have been supporting the Maemo/MeeGo cause for ages don’t buy into it, it’s not inconceivable to think that any chance of that Jolla device with a hardware keyboard I’ve love would go up in smoke whether or not it’s currently in development, along with Jolla.