Android on Jolla – what kind of an Android phone do we have?

Update 31-Jan-2014: Sailfish delivered a lot of improvement to Android VM

  • All 5 sensors of Jolla, and 4 more calculated “sensors”, are now available to Android apps
  • Better access for microphone & vibrator setting
  • Android Phone apps can’t use the phone,
  • however, Android can now use SMS (not read/send, but able to only open Sailfish Messages app)
  • GPS readings are available to even more apps
  • directions might work better in Android Navi apps (yet unconfirmed)
  • Memory handling is improved when low on memory. Should reduce crashes
  • free RAM mentioned in the article has reduced by -20Mb
  • edit: “Velocity bug” still exists, affecting some Navi apps to point always north.
  • edit: Possible new bug with GPS – test app always shows 17 satellites, even when inside.

Original article 25-Jan-2014:

Android runs as a virtual machine on top of Sailfish OS, so we could say that Jolla carries “a phone in a phone”. However, this Android phone can’t access all the hardware nor features offered by Sailfish OS, so let’s take a look at what kind of an Android phone we have:

First set of images are showing how the virtual machine (called Alien-Dalvik) sees the system. We have Android 4.1.2 with heap size of 192Mb, telling the currently that much memory is allocated to my running Android apps. The total memory seems to be 812Mb, but at this point my observations are showing that only 380Mb of RAM (at max, all Sailfish apps closed) is left for running any Android apps.

Alien-Dalvik closes Android programs automatically when there’s not enough memory to allocate – Sailfish side has the priviledge here, so before running any RAM hungry Android apps, it’s useful to close all Sailfish apps to avoid any lags / crash of Alien-Dalvik.

Android is able to take advantage of only 3 of the 5 sensors in the phone. These are accelerometer, light sensor and magnetometer. The ones left out, working only on Sailfish side, are Proximity sensor and the gyroscope.



About other hardware access, Android is ok with the following:

  • 5-point touch screen
  • both cameras and flash (front camera with it’s full 1.9Mpx resolution too, unlike on Sailfish)
  • WLAN & mobile network
  • GPS
  • sound & microphone (edit: only detected)
  • USB
  • Memory card (needs a tweak)
  • Bluetooth (partially, not all methods supported)

But the following, included in Sailfish, is not accessed by Android

  • Battery information
  • Buttons (volume/power)
  • NFC
  • Several settings (to turn on/off)


Using of an Android Launcher is possible – I’ve been using GO Launcher EX, and added an app switcher (switchr 3.6) developed by XDA Forums to gain the best possible user experience. Additionally I’ve themed it with Meego icons – It really feels now like having two phones in one box, but the Android one just misses a lot. However, concidering getting “2 phones for one” with 399€ doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all. I’d need to pay at least 150€ for a native Android phone like this, and the Sailfish side is surely worth more than 250€ :)


Have a great time here at JollaTides!


Simo, to JollaTides

Student at University of Tampere, Finland
I'm an ex teacher and a self-made DB-nerd,
currenty studying more IT and writing to blogs.
Already sailing, Jolla phone In Hand.