2014-11-10

J2 is not a phone"'

This article is a reprint from [fake] magazine. The author of the original has allowed us to publish the entire article with only one limitation. He states that all facts are fictive and should not be spread to naïve viewers on the world wide web. ...especially not to those who are anxiously waiting to replace their [brand] smartphone.

It is highly irregular to compare the release of an electronic device with the making of a classic work of art. Therefore we usually refrain from such practices, so even in this case.

Maybe that takes care of it, maybe not. People think my hopes and guesses are real and use them as ground for statements in almost any direction. But fiction is always like quicksand. I ask for your apologies in advance, just in case. 

Design
The Jolla J2 looks pretty much like the company's first smartphone. The OtherHalf remains compatible which gives it the distinct layered look typical for a Jolla device. No extra buttons or slots have been added to the edges. Your keyboard and glucose meter will fit this phone too.

The front of the phone has been changed. There are reinforcement parts top and bottom. These can be replaced with after-market parts. The sample that Jolla sent us has matte black plastic parts but we've also seen them done in brass and anodized aluminium.

A chamfer now starts at the lower edge of the display and ends at the bottom of the device. This subtle wedge of a change makes the notification end of the phone different than the other edges. 

The display is 4.7" with a resolution of 720x1280px with amoLED technology. Everything about this display beats the one on the first Jolla. There is a low power mode now that allows notifications on a sleeping phone. Driving or sailing at night also works well thanks to the display technology. Daylight viewing is good, although not perfect. The LED notification indicator has been kept and is useful for getting the attention of more numb users. A very nice choice by Jolla.

Open
Under the OtherHalf cover there are some news too. The replaceable battery is slightly larger and has a capacity of almost 2500 mAh. Extra batteries are available from the Jolla store.  The microSD socket supports memories up to 64GB and now sits beside two SIM sockets. Yes, this is a dual SIM device. Both connections support full 4G speeds.

Deeper
The heart of the J2 is a Qualcomm SnapDragon 610 coupled to 4GB RAM and 16GB internal memory. Remember that the J2 runs the very lightweight SailfishOS linux distribution instead of Android so the middle-class hardware still allows for some dazzling speeds. Think of it this way. The engine of the car might seem quite modest but the rest of it is so light that it still qualifies as a supercar. So the Jolla J2 isn't the Ferrari of smartphones, it's the Lotus among them. The phone isn't just fast, it keeps running after others have quit. ...and I absolutely love Jolla for not skimping on the memory size.

Senses
For photographers there is more good news. The camera is now 13 Mp and takes good pictures even in low light situations. The flash has two LED light sources that are combined for the best results. ...and they can be used for notifications too.

The microphones are impressive. There are three of them. Talking is very noise-free and both audio and video recordings sound great in stereo. I wonder if Jolla has licensed some technology from Nokia for the microphones.

A built-in compass, a quick GPS and improved navigation software takes care of most needs. A barometer adds to the outdoor experience along with thermometer and bluetooth sensor support. The accelerometer is very sensitive and there are some apps to help improve running posture and efficiency already.

Talk
Communications are excellent. The SoC supports almost all mobile bands and has good reception. A crowd of different messaging protocols are natively supported. The mail system and browser have been improved immensely and now sports a very "unlike" user interface. A sign of Jolla's current success is that the days of blocked clients are gone.

Bluetooth devices work perfectly with the J2. The new Hook headset by Jolla is of course the perfect match for it, but as with other aspects the choice is up to you. But it is hard for other makers to match the quality of the voice sent by the Hook. There's two channels for the microphones and the phone then does the signal processing with a much better DSP than anyone can pack into a tiny earpiece. The result isn't perfect but pretty close. It is a very unlike solution suggested by the techie users at Together, the Jolla forum. The headset is much more interactive than the norm. A push of the button could give you the time, as an example, not just the status of the bluetooth connection.

Secrets
Good security comes from removing nooks and crannies. The lean nature of SailfishOS comes from a philosophy of removing bloat. The size of the system is smaller and thus easier to maintain. The smaller amount of code means that there are fewer bugs and that malicious software has a hard time hiding.

The cloud service for Jolla has been created together with Younite, a company in the European F-Secure group. An app for Younite was released during the autumn but the J2 spearheads full integration of the cloud service. And there are other choices as well. While talking about internet services it is important to stress the fact that there is no default account. Everyone is optional.

A database keeps track of everything installed in the phone. It is possible to see when an app has been installed and from what source. The same RPM-based database keeps track of the files of each software package and even verifies them automatically while charging the phone.

Software
There are four types of software for the J2, only one of them being apps. The open-source nature of the system allows most apps to be stripped down to the bare essentials by using all resources of the Sailfish operating system. Additional features can be added to other levels of the system, which is a true liberation compared to most alternatives. Yes, there are fewer apps in the Jolla software manager but there is also very little bloat. Each app tends to be more spartan on a Jolla. Instead of one app with everything built-in the real multitasking of SailfishOS lets multiple apps combine on the phone's dashboard-ish home screen. The active cover of each app is updated in realtime and switching from one to another is a breeze. Want to play a quick Youtube while listening to music? No problems.

The new software manager lets the user choose from a directory of channels. This allows users to see only the software they requested. Even commercial app repositories can be found with sets of channels in the directory. A quite common way of handling software on a modern Linux laptop, but this is the first time we've seen it on a phone. We actually like it very much after the initial shock has subsided.

Conclusion
If you still have the curiosity and drive to learn something better you should go for a Jolla smartphone. The J2 is among the best of the best phones out there and we don't need to recommend it. This is a power tool for a professional, nothing less. The buttons and bloat are missing but less really is more with this device.

There is only one thing that might make you hesitate. Rumours of a smaller phone are abundant. If your fingers don't stretch far enough to reach all points of the display then it might be a better choice. But remember that the J3 still is just a shadowy rumour.

The Jolla J2 isn't just a reality. In some ways it'll blow your mind.

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