Sailfish OS 3 could be your next Mobile OS

You probably don’t know it, but after the Windows Phone’s death, Sailfish OS has become the third mobile ecosystem after iOS and Android.

Giovanni Minelli
Nov 5, 2018 · 7 min read
Aurora Borealis — the official image of Sailfish 3

Sailfish OS 3

The news is that has just been released Sailfish OS 3, the third generation descendant of the legendary operating system Meego Harmattan.

You probably do not know it, especially if you live in the US, and it’s not your fault, even if you are so geek: Jolla Oy, the Finnish startup that makes the software has strangely decided not to distribute its OS in many countries of the world. It would be better to say that Sailfish OS is officially distributed in Community European market (EU), Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. A soon may be introduced in some countries of South America.


But what are the advantages and elements that make it unique Sailfish OS compared to iOS and Android?

The user interface is based on simple gesture that depart from the corners of the screen, so as to render superfluous the home button. (As in the Nokia N9). Yes, the iPhone simply copy after a few years of Meego Harmattan derivation gesture.

True multitasking
This OS is strongly focused on multitasking: its UI shows in a special way the active processes and allows it to move in an intelligent way between them.
In addition, the multitasking is real: process and videos continues playing in the background.

Privacy, no selling user data
The philosophy behind Sailfish OS is as northern European standard, focused on privacy. The user data is not stored or sold to advertising partners. There are also several options to setup a VPN system.
The apps — especially the Android one — are not accessing the core and the device data.

N9 heritage
Sailfish is the successor Meego Harmattan, the operating system that Nokia had developed to overcome Maemo and challenge finally Apple and its iOS 4 on iPhone 4. The os takes several years the logic of UI N9 Harmattan, clear set all ‘idea of not having a home button.


Let’s find out directly from the team’s official word:

Sailfish OS’s heritage lies in Nokia times, especially in the MeeGo operating system. Prior to 2011 Nokia and Intel had a vision of an open mobile operating system. Together they invested around 1 billion USD to the project and created an open source based operating system called MeeGo, Which Was used as a basis for several devices, such as the iconic Nokia N9. Although the Nokia N9 Became the beacon of open source operating systems, Nokia DECIDED to end the project and chose instead to continue with Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS . The rest of That is another story.

The passionate team behind MeeGo refused to quit working on the project they’ve believed in. They, or currently ‘we’ saved MeeGo by setting up a new company, Jolla Ltd., to develop the swipe-based MeeGo flowing into the user experience That is Sailfish OS. We quickly enhanced Sailfish OS to run Android apps and it Became hardware compatible with Android chipsets. In November 2013, we Launched the beta version of Sailfish OS to the market with the Jolla smartphone. Shortly after this, we released Sailfish OS version 1.0 and the first Sailfish OS product, the Jolla smartphone Entered 36 markets during one year.

Few year after, the release Jolla Tablet Jolla, with Sailfish 2, and — after some financial trouble — did a pivot in the direction of a business model based on software licenses.


So, in late 2017 Jolla launched Sailfish OS X version of its dedicated to some Sony Xperia X device, that came with an open bootloader.
They continued to improve and debug the OS for ALL the devices they Launched from 2013: not a bad support for a startup!


The latest major iteration is Sailfish OS 3. Released at Halloween: it introduced new light ambiences, improvements in gestures, new USB functionality, VPN firmer and encrypt the SD.

As in the tradition Jolla and according to their method of work, it is not a break with the past, but a gradual upgrade. Following Jolla’s fast develop method, there are always 3–4 ‘minor’ upgrade during a year,

Another very friendly appearance in times of planned obsolescence is the choice to deliver Sailfish 3 even to the old devices, like the first Phone 2013 Jolla.

Jolla Sailfish OS 3 it’s for ALL the devices Launched by 2013: not bad as support from a startup!

Where to find Sailfish?

A question is not obvious because it has not been done a launch in the US, and many of the Jolla devices are not found in supermarkets of large retailers.

The easiest way to try Sailfish OS is to buy one of their first devices from ebay: Jolla Phone, Jolla C, Jolla Tablet and Intex Aquafish are officially supported and developed hardware / software according to the initial philosophy Jolla.

From left: Jolla Phones, Jolla C ‘community edition’ and the rare Jolla Tablet

After turning to the software-license business model, Jolla sold Sailfish X for Sony Xperia X (F5121 and 5122): originally an Android phone, you have to flash it using a step by step guide.

Some Sony Xperia X with Sailfish OS X

In this case you have to buy separately license Sailfish X, which also activates a year Zendesk support, Microsoft Exchange support, predictive text, and support for Android apps.
A somewhat difficult method, if you are not geek: in this case you should look for used Xperia X on ebay with international shipping to US.

Early 2019 update

Sailfish 3 is now available to a new family of Sony devices: the Xperia XA2, XA2 Plus, XA2 Ultra. These will be the best official Sailfish OS devices throughout 2019/2020!

Jolla released Sailfish 3 for XA2 family, before under a “free license on late 2018, and now in February there is a paid license: Sailfish X Beta for XA2, which include the long-awaited Android 8.1 support, in addiction to traditional Predictive text, MS Exchange and Zendesk support.

A recap from Jolla site: Sailfish X free, Beta with Android 8 support, and the Sailfish X for Xperia X (not beta).

The price is reduced to 29€ (instead of 49€ as for Xperia X last year) because the software was released early, in a beta stage: there is some bug there and there, and all the Android apps which are based on Google Services doesn’t boot. As you see in the above image, the Android 8.1 part is the discounted one.

It was stated that old owners of a Sailfish X license for Xperia X — which are confined in Android 4.4 — may have a reduced price to upgrade, but at the moment there news about this.

In practice we can say that this 29€ is a discount for the early users: at the end of beta the license’s price will back to 49€.


In the US and in the world, after repeated scandals involving Facebook, Android and even Twitter, there is an increased attention to the issues of privacy.

In the newspaper there is a feeling of being profiled in advertising and their GPS data can be used to show ads.
That’s a certainty on an Android phone, exchanging a lot more information to the Google Ads Network (note that the Alphabet Group controls both the hardware and the software through the Android, your search through Google, and hold the advertising platform, Google Ads, formerly AdWords).

There may also be willing to make a choice out of the herd, or not to further enrich the current 2 monopolists of the mobile market.

If, for a number of different reasons you are looking for an alternative mobile operating system, Sailfish OS is the most viable alternative today and it’s updated.
Of course, not everything is all easy and “polished” like in iOS, but it may be worth trying. I repeat again that Jolla do not earn by selling consumer data: it’s not owned by Google or other hardware gig.

Giovanni Minelli
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ALT Oses

A new publication about alternative Oses: Sailfish OS, Linux and others!

Giovanni Minelli

Written by

Art & cross-media Designer. Here focusing on writing and content curation. Getty/EyeEm landscape photographer •

ALT Oses

ALT Oses

A new publication about alternative Oses: Sailfish OS, Linux and others!

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