The First Jolla Smartphone: Quirky, $500, and Android-Friendly

When a band of engineers fled Nokia in 2012 to develop a MeeGo-derived OS called Sailfish, they needed a vehicle to carry the software. And this is it: the first Jolla phone, which is as quirky as the OS it runs.

Featuring a 4.5-inch display, dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, 4G, 16GB of onboard storage, and a microSD slot, its most obvious physical feature is the contrasting removable back cover. The phone recognizes which cover is attached and changes its colored theming to match, but the subtly different shaping of the two parts is what actually makes it interesting from a design perspective. (Check the picture above close-up to see what we mean.)

Jolla claims the handset will be "compliant" with Android apps, though the phone runs its own Sailfish OS. That's based on MeeGo, which originally powered the Nokia N9, and it's not clear how well the Android integration will work—how many apps will be supported, and how well they'll work, for instance—let alone where the apps will be downloaded from. But, hey, let's give 'em chance to prove themselves.

Initially launching in a handful of European countries, Jolla will roll out the handset more widely in the near future. It looks set to cost around $500. [Jolla via Verge]