Editor’s note: This is post by Johanna Eiramo, one of our residents at the Minimum Viable Office and a marcomm specialist.

The big event tent in the middle of the Narinkkatori square in Helsinki shone bright in the signature pink of the Finnish mobile operator DNA on Thursday, November 27th. 450 The inside of the tent was buzzing with the energy of 450 Jolla fans, waiting patiently to get to buy their pre-ordered handset before the rest of the world. Many tried to play it cool, but the excitement was tangible.

The new Jolla smartphone runs on Sailfish OS, an open source operating system that is able to run Android applications. This means that it is compatible with roughly 85 000 Android apps out there. With a 16GB inbuilt storage that is expandable via microSD card, there is space and processing capacity for a slew of apps that users can fill the new handset with, as it doesn’t come with any pre-installed ones.

The front of the phone is covered with the 4,5” IPS qHD (960×540 pixels), 5-point multi-touch display with no buttons to disturb the sleek surface. The primary camera is 8 MP with a LED flash, supported by a 2Mpix front-facing one. The manufacturer promises that the user-replaceable battery (2100mAh, 3.8V, 7.98Wh) will last 9/10 hours of talk time in 2G/3G. Naturally, the phone supports 4G Internet connections to boot.

Bold images of the future

Tomi Pienimäki, CEO of Jolla, could barely contain his excitement at the press event, talking about the newest addition to the long line of mobile phones designed in Finland. “I think we’ve succeeded in creating a unique user experience that is easy to use and to personalize according to each user’s needs.” The back end of the phone has a NFC tag with a different ID for each color. The back cover itself can contain hardware components and communicate information from those components. This means there are some pretty interesting possibilities lie in The Other Half. “You could, and I’m not saying we’re doing this, add a sun panel to it. Or an extra battery,” Pienimäki iterated. “It also makes co-branding the handset easy.” Interesting things to look out for as the company looks for new partners.

When prompted for expected sales figures, Pienimäki hesitated, but threw out the possibility of eventually reaching the sales of 1 million handsets per year.

A sleek, user-friendly handset, IMHO

There were plenty of Jolla people on-site, demoing the phone. The active icons looked like a handy thing. Basically you have a shortcut from the app to the icon, but it also includes some functionalities. So a media player icon, for instance, would enable putting the player on pause using gesture without actually having to open the application itself.

All in all, the buyers looked happy, the Jolla people were relieved to finally have the beta version out and ready to start working on the development of the handset with the users. Time will tell if Jolla can claim the spot that has been saved for it in the hearts and minds of former MeeGo and Maemo fans.

About the author:
Johanna is a Helsinki based marcomms professional, fascinated with the startup scene. With in-house experience from companies of varied sizes (startups, non-profit organizations, multinational listed companies) and fields (tech, pulp&paper, pharma, inward investments), Johanna is now looking to learn more from founders and builders of interesting companies as a hired gun. You can read her personal blog here.