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

Jolla Sailfish Phone

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.

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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.

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First Jolla smartphone will be revealed on May 20, could it be a QWERTY-slider?

May 20 has been rumored to be the launch date for the first Jolla phone since the beginning of the month, and now it has been confirmed. The news comes from Jolla’s official Facebook page, where a post appeared saying, “One week to go. A perfect time for a small teaser...”
It was accompanied by a short, split-screen style video, where items which traditionally go together are sliced down the middle and made one in the center of the screen. It ends with the words, “I am the other half,” and “All will be revealed on 20th of May.” As Jolla’s Sailfish OS has already made its debut, at least in an early form, the “other half” logically refers to the hardware on which Sailfish OS will be installed.
However, there is another way to look at the teaser. What if the other half it refers to is a QWERTY keyboard? Although Sailfish OS is a touchscreen operating system, Jolla has long been petitioned by fans to produce a phone with a physical keyboard, and although it’s a long shot, perhaps the firm is about to breathe new life into that long-forgotten form factor, the QWERTY slider?
In another video, Jolla’s now head of software Marc Dillon chats briefly about phones with physical keyboards, saying, “I see that there is a need ... consumers can only buy what’s offered to them, and there aren’t any real business-orientated devices available at the moment ... I would like to see more QWERTY-based devices.”
Sailfish OS has evolved from the now defunct MeeGo software, but when it was alive and kicking, it was available on the Nokia N950 (pictured above), a QWERTY slider with a 4-inch touchscreen. Our brief glimpse of the phone didn’t give anything away, so this is all speculation on our part at the moment, however such a dramatic departure from the accepted style of a modern smartphone, could make Jolla really standout. One only has to remember their “Unlike” tagline to understand Jolla doesn’t feel the need to conform, so it’s going to be fascinating to see what it comes up with next week.

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It’s all change at Jolla, with new CEO appointed in preparation for the launch of its first phone

Later this month, Jolla will announce its first smartphone, and in preparation for this milestone event, the company has restructured its management team. This comes just a few months after CEO Jussi Hurmola moved on, handing the business over to Marc Dillon, who has been key in getting Sailfish OS ready for launch.
It’s fitting then, that Dillon will become Head of Software Development, particularly given his background at Nokia, where he worked on both Symbian and Series 40. Dillon’s infectious drive will be far better suited to promoting Sailfish, something which was clear when the software was unveiled last year. He confirms this in his press statement, saying he is exited to, “Give 100 percent attention to what I love - working on the product with the Jolla team.
With Dillon’s reappointment, Tomi Pienimaki comes in as Jolla’s new CEO. Formerly CIO of logistics firm Itella Corporation, Pienimaki will be building relationships with Jolla’s partners, and presumably be focusing more on the business aspect of running the company. Taking to Twitter for only the third time, Pienimaki said earlier today, “My sailing season is about to start soon.”
Jolla now boasts a 70-strong team, and is gearing up to launch its first phone during May. The exact date of the event has yet to be confirmed, but we can expect pre-orders to begin towards the end of the month, indicating it’s going to be sometime over the next couple of weeks. Jolla has picked a busy time to show off the device, with Nokia ready to show a new Lumia phone on May 14, Google I/O on May 15, and CTIA (with the prospect of the Lumia 928 being announced) beginning on May 21. Despite Jolla taking orders in May, the phone isn’t expected to go on sale until after the summer.
We’d imagine now the new management team has been announced, the date for the launch event will soon follow.

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First Jolla phone coming in May, with special editions available for early buyers (Updated)

Jolla, the company behind the Sailfish OS, is gearing up to announce its first smartphone in May, at least according to Antti Saarnio, the firm's chairman of the board. The news comes from an interview published in the Finnish Economic Times, but has yet to be confirmed through Jolla’s social networking feeds or in a press statement.
The launch will apparently take place in early May, but it doesn’t look likely the phone will be instantly available, as a pre-order process will begin later in the month. Jolla is taking a very different approach in its attempt to break into the mobile market, so it’s no surprise to read the team has something pretty unusual planned for its debut phone.
According to the article, Jolla will place the phone up as a pre-order, but in a nod to the successful Kickstarter way of generating interest by offering rewards for early backers, a series of unique options will be available to those who do place an order for the phone before it’s released. Exactly what you’ll get isn’t clear, but it’ll, “be something special others do not get,” and could involve a custom user interface. It’s also mentioned that there will be a number of rewards level available, and the more you pay, the more tailored your phone will be.
It’s an unusual approach, but we should remain realistic about when the phone will arrive. Saarnio doesn’t commit to a time frame in the interview, but confirmed it would be stated when the pre-orders begin. A recent tweet said simply the first Jolla phone would be coming, “Later this year,” so we’d expect it to arrive sometime after the summer.
There is one other caveat here, in that Jolla initially said it would be releasing its first phone in China, which isn’t mentioned in the above article. In fact, it gives the impression the pre-order Jolla phone will see a wider release. Has Jolla changed its mind? We’ve contacted Jolla to clarify this and for information on the event, and will update if we hear back.
Update on 04/17/13 at 05:30am by Andy: Jolla has got in touch and confirmed the first Jolla smartphone is indeed coming in May, and pre-orders will begin after mid-month. The final dates have yet to be confirmed. As expected, the hardware will go on sale in the second half of the year. Regarding where this will happen, Finland is a definite, but there's no word on the rest of Europe or the U.S. at this time.
Article originally published on 04/16/13 at 08:00am.

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