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.

Leave a Reply

  1. Nice article Simo – would definitely be good to get an SD card tweak to allow Android side to store on SD.

    @Tom Sorry I’ve not used the amazon store before. Have you tried fully removing the amazon store via terminal or in the file manager then reinstall it?

  2. Has anyone already tried to set up the phone for Android development? Would be great to test Qt developed apps there before releasing them to the public. I tested an Qt app yesterday and it failed, but I am not sure whether it was my app or alien dalvik.

  3. I had a problem getting Navigon to run, possibly because aliendalvik does not deliver any IMEI, which on the other side is a benefit, as for now google has no relevant information about my phone…

  4. The reason I bought a Jolla Phone is to run Sailfish as OS and not Android. To be able to use Android Apps can only be a temporary solution, otherwise customers are better of buying an Android Phone, Nexus 5 has the same price tag and runs flawlessly, for example. So dear Jolla Crew, HANDS ON WORK!
    You have my support!

    • Walter I totally agree with you. I also want more and/or better Sailfish apps. If only for it’s unique UI. Unfortunately it seems there’s more interest in getting the, albeit very basic, Sailfish OS to run on as many droids (read: Nexus phones) possible instead of actually improving SailFish ‘s core apps. I hope looks are deceiving and that actual progress has been made in core functionality o/t OS in the few that weeks we have our devices.

      In fact I hoped/expected that more Harmattan apps would be ported to the Jolla phone. I personally look forward to have a call-recording – and contact/agenda syncing app because the phone is completely useless to me without these.

      But lets not make hasty decisions.

      Anyway, Android was meant as a stop-gap solution to get certain apps NOW and particularly for higher profile gaming which would obviously never been ported to Sailfish in the first place.
      In that respect I can understand the need for better and better Android support. But I definitely concur with you. If Android apps/games are that important then you are indeed better off with the genuine Android phone. Which I incidentally also have.


    • My opinion as well.Hurry on and bring us more and satble apps,turn by turn navigation etc.,even when I have to pay for that,no problem!

  5. Has anyone tried Android-Soundhound, Shazam, or any other app that needs the mic? Bcs on my Jolla Soundhound and Shazam both say they’re not getting access to the microphone