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Ex-Nokia engineers take on Android with the first ‘Jolla’ smartphone

Mobile newcomer Jolla will start selling its first smartphone on November 27, and it’ll be launched in Finland on a local network called DNA. The news comes from Jolla’s official Twitter account, but it wasn’t welcomed by everyone, as at the time there was no confirmation of when those who pre-ordered the phone will be getting their devices.

When Jolla first talked about producing a phone, way back in November last year, it confirmed the DNA network was an early supporter. It was only when the pre-orders began in the early summer that it appeared Jolla was branching out. After a flurry of replies on Twitter asking about the pre-order status, Jolla said we should, “Stay tuned,” and that it would inform us all of the situation “in a while.” Jolla offered a variety of pre-order options, and the truly dedicated have paid 100 euros ($130) for a priority number in the queue.

Twice the price of the Moto G

Jolla’s Sailfish OS is one of a few new mobile operating systems released this year, and news of its arrival comes soon after it became clear the Samsung and Intel backed Tizen project wouldn’t have a phone on sale until 2014. However, Jolla may well need to watch out for new hardware such as the Motorola Moto G. Jolla’s phone, which costs 400 euros, or around $540, has a 4.5-inch screen with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution and a dual-core chip. The Moto G’s screen is the same size with a 720p resolution, plus it has a quad-core chip. It’s also less than half the price. Of course, there are other differences between them, and the Jolla phone does run Android apps and have 4G LTE, but any new OS will have enough problems being accepted by buyers, without the added pressure of being viewed as too expensive. 

Jolla phones available at launch party

Jolla White PhoneSince announcing the release date, Jolla has clarified the pre-order and phone sale situation in an FAQ, and those who pre-ordered have begun receiving invitations to finalize their purchase. On November 27, 450 Jolla phones will be sold at a launch party in Helsinki, Finland, which is an invite-only event open to a select few who pre-ordered the phone during its first wave of availability. Those who pre-ordered but can’t attend have been given access to an online store, where they can pay for the phone. Provided this is done before December 2, then it should arrive before Christmas. Interestingly, Jolla’s FAQ also states it will be putting the phone up for sale through its own website, once it has filled all its existing orders. 

In preparation for the launch, Jolla has posted a new video showing Sailfish in action on the Jolla phone, and you can watch it below. Although we’ve seen the operating system before, this is our best look yet, and it demonstrates the gesture controls and fluidity of Sailfish OS. It also shows a guy hanging up the phone on his mom, which isn’t cool. Sadly, the only Other Half removable panels spotted are those in different colors. It’s a shame, and we’re still waiting to see the first innovative examples of these interactive replaceable panels.

The DNA Jolla event begins at 5pm local time in Helsinki, Finland, and according to a tweet from the network, the first phone will be sold at 7pm. DNA will be live tweeting the event, and has posted this video showing the pop-up store where the phones will be sold, along with a hashtag for people to post tweets about their experience.

It’s a big day for Jolla, and potentially for the future of smartphones in general.

Updated on 11/27/2013 by Andy: Rewritten in preparation for the Jolla phone’s launch, added in new pre-order information and latest product demo video.

Article originally published on 11/15/2013.