We use cookies on our websites. Information about cookies and how you can object to the use of cookies at any time or end their use can be found in our privacy policy.

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android comparison: is this the future of phones?

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android comparison: is this the future of phones?

The open source Sailfish OS is getting the “biggest update” in its history: Sailfish OS 2.0. It’s an alternative not just to Android but to iOS too, and it’s about to appear on a whole bunch of handhelds. How does it compare? Let’s pit Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android.

sailfish hero
Sailfish is an open source alternative to Android. / © Jolla

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android: what is Sailfish, anyway?

Sailfish is the operating system developed by Finnish firm Jolla, whose products promise “a new way of thinking”. It’s open source, gives developers full access to whatever they want, relies heavily on customer feedback and currently powers Jolla’s own phone and tablet - but Jolla has signed up with Intex to launch Sailfish-powered phones in India and other markets and more manufacturer deals may be imminent: Russian firm YotaPhone has reportedly dropped Android for the Sailfish OS in its future devices. Sailfish could become a very big deal in emerging markets.

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android: hardware compatibility

Android is available on all kinds of hardware, of course, and forked versions - that is, versions that are adapted from Android - also power devices such as Amazon’s Fire phone and tablets.

Sailfish is currently available on Jolla’s own phone and tablet, but if you don’t mind replacing Android altogether you can install it on a device such as a Nexus 5 via CyanogenMod: Jolla has a tutorial here. That isn’t recommended if your phone is your everyday device, however: it’s really just for app developers or people who want to test the OS.

Sailfish hardware is likely to be cheap. Jolla’s Tablet will retail at just $299.

Jolla's own devices will soon be joined by third party Sailfish phones and tablets. / © Jolla

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android: apps and app stores

Sailfish is based on open source Android libraries, and that means it runs Android apps - although Jolla doesn’t support Google Play Services and strongly advises against installing those services on a Sailfish device as it causes “a multitude of problems”.

The aim is to support the majority of Android apps, and you can find compatible ones via Jolla’s own app store and Jolla-certified app stores such as Yandex, Aptoide and Anzhi. There’s nothing to stop you from using other app stores - if you can get an .apk file you can stick it into Sailfish - but Jolla and its friends only list apps they’re certain will work properly.

Jolla is completely transparent about Android compatibility and publishes detailed notes online. It notes that some features that might not work include Bluetooth streaming for anything other than music, vibration and LED light alerts, and some notifications.

We were going to make a joke by pretending Sailfish was pronounced Selfish, but it wasn't funny. / © Jolla

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android: interface

Whether it’s stock Lollipop or a manufacturer skin such as TouchWiz, we’re all pretty familiar with Android in its various guises. Sailfish does things quite a bit differently.

While the core of Sailfish is based on the open source Mer Project, the interface is Jolla’s own work (and its own intellectual property: the interface isn’t open source). From the beginning it’s been designed with gestures in mind. As Jolla says: “Sailfish OS works with your natural hand movements via gestures.

You don’t have to push tiny buttons or search your way back home – everything is always under your thumb. Sailfish gestures soon become muscle memory and every touch-point a fluid, simple, faster task. It changes the way people interact with their devices.” It’s also quite pretty to look at, and very different to Google’s Material Design.

jolla sailfish teaser
Early Sailfish versions were experimental, but 2.0 is aimed at big audiences. / © Jolla/AndroidPIT

Sailfish OS 2.0 vs Android: availability

At the time of writing (July 2015) Jolla promises that the 2.0 update will be available “in a few weeks” to Sailfish users on the early access preview program, with everybody else getting it “quickly after”. We’d expect the 2.0 update to be widely available before the Fall. Non-Jolla Sailfish hardware will take a little longer to arrive: expect to see the first third-party devices in early 2016.

Sailfish 2.0 vs Android: will it tempt you away from Android?

Right now, Sailfish is a curiosity for mainstream Android users: it’s a lovely-looking thing but installing it on your device will almost certainly make it a little less useful due to incompatibilities and the lack of Google Play Services. But that’s not really what Sailfish is all about: for manufacturers it’s an alternative to Android, a way of distinguishing their devices in markets where Samsung casts a long shadow and of reaching customers who don’t trust Google with the details of their everyday lives. It’s also designed for modular devices - which is probably why YotaPhone likes it - and could be a real rival to Project Ara.

The most interesting thing about Sailfish isn’t the tech, though. It’s the company behind it. It crowdsources its hardware, engages properly with its users and is small enough to make huge changes instantly if that’s what customers want. Google’s had enough trouble persuading Android firms not to mess up the basic interface. If Android is an aircraft carrier Sailfish is a speedboat, and that means things could get very interesting very quickly.

What do you think? Could Sailfish get you hooked, or do you put your trust in Google? Let us know in the comments.

Recommended articles


Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing
Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing

  • I think sailfish is a nice alternative to android

  • I will stay with Android for now, but I will likely switch to Sailfish when it gets a bit more mature. (AKA available on high-end hardware)

  • In my comment I'm talking only about smartphones and their operating systems. Before I started to use Jolla I had always Nokia device (Symbian OS). When Nokia changed Meego to Windows I never came back to Nokia. But I heard about Jolla and its SailfishOS (practically it was Meego before). I bought first Jolla when it was brand new thing. I soon was exited of Jolla, even when SailfishOS was on beta state. After my first Jolla got broken I received Samsung Galaxy s2. I used it few months but I lost it accidentally. I learned to use Android device but never smoothly. Soon I bought my second Jolla and I use it so far. My Jolla is getting old but I'll buy another SFOS device. For me SailfishOS is comfortable and simple - and it's important for me I can use Android apps because of lack of Sailfish apps. I think I'll never use Android devices as long as SailfishOS exists...

  • is sailfish smooth for old devices? specs: internal memory 8gb and ram 1gb. Quadcore processor

  • Difficult to get informations on Jolla and if will survive financially these troubled times. SailfishOS should definitely become a real Android alternative, there are too few of them. Fairphone announced a collaboration with Jolla some weeks ago, but that was before Jolla announcing they're in trouble. Missing a comparison with other alternative OS like in this post:

  • For all of those, who have not used Sailfish, I would like to add my 2 penny's worth to this. Just so you know, Sailfish is quite fresh approach, not a rip off (as you can find out, when you search the origin of the software...Nokia, Maemo, Meego and originally Linux).
    As mentioned by Gary, Sailfish is a bit of "speedboat". I am using the Jolla phone, as well as S5. S5 beats Jolla hardware side hands down, yet Sailfish is far nicer experience with all my favourite Android apps (you can install pretty anything you want , including Google Play). Even non techy person can do that :)
    Few points, swipes are great and something we will see on iOS and Android versions soon. Where Sailfish excels, is the speed / power ratio, which I guess is because cleaner programming (history in Nokia and how phones should work won't hurt either, I guess).
    Obviously I do not have data, but it would be nice to see Sailfish in S5 or simular and then see, if Sailfish delivers the same 2-3 cycle between charges, as it does on Jolla phone.
    One more thing, it actually still feels like a phone, with fast and easy notifications for your chosen apps/messages. For me, day by day, my usage is transferring more and more to the Jolla&Sailfish

  • Nothing new... is a BlackBerry10 like experience :D and I really think gestures is the future, it's more intuitive and faster than using stupid buttons for everything. The only buttons we need is, Vol Up Vol Down, and Power. (and a Physical Keyboard if you will ;) )

  • This was quite interesting. I had never heard of Sailfish before reading this. To me, it really sounds a lot like a mix of Android and iOS. (It sounds like it is riddled with loads of gestures like iOS, instead of the simple buttons on Android that we all know and love). I'm not sure whether to embrace this OS and respect it, or to be scared of it. I really enjoy Androids lack of fancy complicated gestures, that iOS seems to have loads of. It sounded a lot like you have to "learn" how to use Sailfish before you can actually enjoy it. I really prefer simplicity. I'm concerned that another OS in competition with Android and iOS could really cut into Androids profit.

  • You can sideload any apk on Androids anyway, and even Microsoft is looking into integration of Android apps, so this isn't really a bad thing. Besides, until Google reigns in the problems with fragmentation and the software/hardware complications, it'll be good to see other options out there.

  • Sounds like a shameless attempt to make profit off of its own play store by taking Android libraries and removing Google services to form its own OS. Of course, the challenge for this OS is immense. The Play Store is huge and has a wide selection. That is what people want. It is up to developers whether it is worth it to them to publish their apps on this "new" OS. It is hard enough to develop apps that are compatible with differing versions of Android, much less trying to get them to also for some knock off.

    • Sailfish OS is not a rip off Android. In fact it has it's origins in a Linux based mobile OS project that Intel and Nokia were together working on called Meego. Unfortunately this project was abandoned and Nokia decided to go with Microsoft. Jolla was founded by some of Nokia's employees who quit the company to pursue their project further and started Jolla. Sailfish has its own SDK for developing apps, however they are trying to gain quick user acceptance by also supporting apk files.

Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing