Apparently I’m Jolla-Devices’ first customer to get an order to Iceland, so I thought I’d give my impressions on the device and Sailfish 4.5. One reason I ordered it is that the local Sony affiliate only carries the 5s and the 1s for some reason, and I’d been curious about Sailfish for years.
Rafræn Skilríki, or VIT Mobile ID works fairly well, Heilsuvera and Arion both let me log in like normal. This was my biggest worry, as refilling prescriptions and home banking would be much more difficult without them. SIM card based ID apps seem to be getting ubiquitous throughout Europe so this feature is absolutely essential, to the point that I’m surprised at how hard it was to research online whether Sailfish supported it or not.
The Sailfish software ecosystem is honestly a bit confusing to an outsider. The Jolla store has a decent selection, but then the Marketplaces section has two Android repositories and that’s it. Storeman is admittedly a bit clumsy, including almost every install requiring you to add a repo, refresh that repo’s cache and THEN install the software, much like Ubuntu in 2006, but being that OpenRepos has been serving up apps for a good 9 years now it seems overdue to get on the Jolla store. Same with Chum, it’s been open for 2 years now. Why not get the GUI onto the official store? And I don’t mean to discredit Olf’s work, but maybe Jolla could offer him a helping hand with adhering to Harbour standards and whatnot.
The screen is gorgeous as you’d expect, the indicator is nice, cameras are decent. Audio quality is about what you should expect out of a modern phone. It’s a decent size but very light. The only downside to this construction is that the back side is polished and buffed to such a smooth mirror finish that it’s easy to drop, and unlike a few other phones out there it has no rubberized coating along the edge. Phones have been built with the mindset of the end-user plunking down extra cash for covers for over a decade now, but it bears mentioning.
Now that USB charging is getting a bit more standardised and older standards are being left behind, this phone can’t quite take advantage of a charger rated for 2.4A (5V, no variable voltage), to the point that it can’t quite take a charge off it. It takes QC3 very well though, and the included charger is no slouch either.
The interface takes a bit of getting used to but is pretty fast to use once you get going. I definitely prefer the drag down motion instead of hunting for triple dots or a hamburger button. My one complaint is that rotation is janky to say the least. Several native apps think that portrait is landscape, and with the left side up the display goes upside down. The trick of holding a finger on the screen while rotating doesn’t seem to work either, but at least locking works if you don’t mind tilting your head for a few seconds. I’m sure this will get fixed in a future OS update, but it does stand out.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. In fact I used a few Patreon RSS feeds on my last phone. Among the number of native Sailfish podcatchers, none of them seem to support this. I’m sure it’s some sort of FLOSS sticking point, but that just means I’m not using any of them, I’m probably better served by whipping up some manner of Syncthing solution and manually downloading episodes off each individual feed.
Finally, the browser is very fast. It’s also not able to block ads at all. I was hoping that it being Gecko-based it could support uBlock Origin, which not only blocks banner ads, but also YouTube ads. Every ad blocking solution offered by the community seems to involve at least some tinkering (or in the case of Privoxy, a lot of tinkering), meanwhile uBlock Origin requires none. I can’t help but think that at least in Privoxy’s case the sheer lack of automation is down to elitism. Anyone who thinks these things should be difficult and that ad blocking is no big deal should take a trip to a Fandom wiki without adblocking, and reassess their priorities.
I’ve been able to make this phone work for me, and I’m sure it’d work well as a business phone, or a fun puzzle toy for power-users, but I cannot recommend it to Grandma for daily use. Maybe a bored teen.