I was one of those who (after years of using Symbian, Maemo and MeeGo) bought the Jolla 1 from the first batch in 2013. Then, for several reasons, I moved to BlackBerry 10. I still use the BB Passport as my daily driver and I consider it the best smartphone and OS I’ve ever had.
Now, after 8 years, and SFOS advertised as having made a giant leap to version 4, I decided to give it a try, thinking that it’s the only remaining alternative to extremely secure and stable (but passing away) BB10.
So I bought a XA2 Ultra and this is what I experienced so far:
The script to flash Sailfish OS X (coupled with instructions from Jolla how to use it) turned out to be a complete disaster. On Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, if not launched as Administrator, it was looking for all files in its folder (i.e. where is should), but it was failing due to not having the rights to create the temp file there. On the other hand, if lauched as Admin, it was able to create the temp file, but it couldn’t find any files to flash (or even fastboot.exe or the file containing md5 checksums) because it was looking for everything in… Windows\System32 folder (and that’s where it was creating the temp file). Adding the folder to Windows’ path and various other attempts to solve the problem didn’t help. Not willing to have to copy everything to Windows/System32 where the damn .bat wanted to have it, I eventually modified the script by adding full absolute paths to every single file in the script, and it finally made it work. I was able to do figure it out, but I guess that for a complete newbie it’s where his Sailfish OS adventure may end, before it really could begin. It is AMAZING that even the tool to flash the OS, i.e. everyone’s very FIRST experience with the platform, couldn’t be made in a proper way.
All that Sailjail stuff. Fantastic, security is a good thing. But not the way it is being implemented, i.e. that they enabled it but at the same time didn’t let 3rd party developers use it because “it is not ready yet”, which will surely take months before it changes. As a result, dozens of applications got broken, as they cannot normally access Contacts, or Calendar data, or many other things that got “protected”. Having to use tricks like manually copying contacts.db to the application’s own folder (and then remember to repeat it upon every change if you want to have it up to date) just isn’t a serious solution. With Sailjail introduced that way, try to find a single properly working contacts-dependent third party application, like for instance call blocking. No, Phonehook doesn’t work correctly anymore, because it has no access to contacts so they cannot be selected. And developers apparently can’t do much about it atm.
XA2 with SFOS X 4.x is the only device that refuses to sync contacts and call log with my car’s Bluetooth car kit. “Contacts directory” appears in the car but so what if it’s completely empty, whereas call log is completely greyed out and inaccessible. Maybe it’s again due to Sailjail (i.e. lack of access to contacts and communication log sync over BT), which wouldn’t be surprising as it wouldn’t be the only case where Jolla broke their own OS’ functions with sailjail. The same thing happened to e.g. the built-in function to record voice calls which just stopped working due to sailjail and it takes applying a manual fix via the terminal to make it work (whitelist the folder and give it necessary sailjail permissions so that the audio file can be created there). It will be interesting to see if they fixed it in 4.2.
After several days GPS still didn’t get fix. Right, I didn’t have time to stand half an hour with the phone in my hand under the clear sky, but I left it by the window for some 40 minutes, which didn’t help at all. It sees 27 satellites, of which it stubbornly uses ZERO. Before flashing SFOS, the GPS worked perfectly fine in Android.
And there are some other issues like SFOS not liking too much WLAN networks with hidden SSID (not being able to see them every now and then) or having problems with finding the cellular network after switching back from Flight mode or after switching the SIM1 card off and then back on, etc. So overall, an experience that can hardly be considered stable.
Oh, and the web browser really isn’t ANYWHERE near what can be considered up to date. There are LOTS of websites which either don’t work correctly or not at all. Including many important websites that one really has to access daily.
So, sorry to say (as I really hoped that SFOS could be made my and my wife’s daily driver after Blackberry shuts down their BB10 servers by the end of this year which possibly won’t let BB10 devices to be normally used anymore), I find SFOS 4.x to be actually LESS mature than what I left on the Jolla 1 when I stopped using it years ago. Really GREAT LOOKING, but unstable, chaotically developed, and after 8 years lacking many things that are simply required for a daily driver.
I really understand all those things (small company, limited resources, and so on) but it’s been EIGHT YEARS so I really thought that it managed to evolve into something at least normally USABLE for the most BASIC tasks. Whereas what I’ve found is still of beta-release stability, actually making an impression of being LESS stable than what was on the Jolla 1. With as hilarious things as that the user has to manually key in commands (found in some community forums) in the terminal to make certain built-in functions (like call recording) work correctly, where the web browser is several years behind, and that it can’t even sync contacts with my car kit, which makes it completely unusable.
Oh, and enforced encryption with no way to opt-out right after flashing a fresh OS, doesn’t make me more enthusiastic towards it, either.
As an absolute minimum, I need a device that correctly works with my car kit, has a built-in function (or a properly working 3rd party application) to block calls and text messages, and an up-to-date web browser. Of which Sailfish X currently offers NONE.
So for now, the sad reality is that after my BlackBerry 10 device stopps working, I’ll be forced to start using Android, which is something I really wanted to avoid at any cost.
EDIT: I almost forgot. In addition to having to manually fix the call recording function, I had to manually (by typing some commands in the terminal) fix the automatic date/time setting, which was stubbornly switching to Helsinki/Finland, giving 1 hour difference vs my time zone. While searching for solution I’ve found numerous posts reporting that bug already years ago.