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Hands-on with Jolla Phone’s nifty swipey Sailfish

Our full hands-on review of the Jolla Phone, featuring Sailfish OS, at MWC 2014.

The Jolla Phone not only has one of the best names of any device at MWC, it also sports a funky new swipey OS called Sailfish, which shuns home and back buttons in favour of BB10-esque gestures. We checked it out at a very busy MWC 2014 stand, with some cheery Finns to guide us through…

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

Check out our full hands-on video of the Jolla phone and funky swishy Sailfish OS, just below…

The Jolla phone itself is a candy-coloured chunk of serious tech. It sports a funky two-piece design, with the front and back almost looking and feeling like they’re two completely separate pieces that have been squished together.

The boxy rectangular finish reminds us of the Nokia XL, and it’s certainly a handful, like many phones at MWC 2014. At 141g it isn’t too hefty, and it feels all-round solid.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

Our favourite part is the swappable cases: you can prise the cover off the back half of the phone, replacing it with any other case, including personalised efforts.

Best of all, these covers come with an NFC chip embedded, which automatically changes your phone wallpaper, ringtone and other bits when attached. So if you slot on a Neil Diamond cover, for instance, you can set your paper to a lovely picture of his shiny face, with a bit of Sweet Caroline as your ringtone. Nice.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

Double-tap the screen when hibernating and you wake to the lock screen, with the option to set a PIN or other security measure to get inside. You then get access to your main desktop, which shows the most recent apps you’ve had open. You can tap one to enter it, or hold to get rid of it.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

Waiting notifications can be browsed with a flick up from the bottom, while locking the screen is performed by swiping down from the top of the screen. Exiting apps is also done with a flick down from the top, or the sides if you wish to place them on the desktop for fast re-access, so the back button becomes completely superfluous.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

In terms of apps, Jolla provides its own store, with hundreds of native apps – not much cop, compared to Google Play or iTunes, right?

Well, you can thankfully load your own APK files, so you can get Android games on there with a bit of fiddling. We saw Angry Birds running perfectly, with on-screen back and apps buttons in place (as these can’t be overridden).

Jolla phone at MWC 2014

Sailfish seems to be a nifty little interface, and while it took us 15 minutes just to get used to the basic command gestures, we reckon this OS could be a swift and pain-free way of navigating through your apps and notifications, which is just as friendly for lefties as it is for righties.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

The Jolla phone’s camera seems to be a capable snapper, even under the fierce lights of MWC. The stripped-down interface keeps the screen clutter-free (although not quite so much as vanilla Android), while a tap of the settings button brings up all kinds of manual controls.

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

Jolla phone with Sailfish OS shown off at MWC 2014

The Jolla Phone can be ordered online.

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