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Jolla accepting pre-orders for first Sailfish OS smartphone

Jolla, which has been working on the MeeGo-based Sailfish operating system, has unveiled its first smartphone, which is expected to hit the market by the year's end.

The unnamed phone is currently available to pre-order for €399 (£337). But as Jolla co-founder Marc Dillon explains in a video message (above), the company is taking a Kickstarter-like approach to sales of its smartphone by handing out perks to those who pay a little extra.

Pre-order now, and for an extra €40 (£34), get an "I am the first one" Jolla t-shirt; for an added €100 (£85), customers can get a €100 (£85) phone discount voucher and a limited-edition smartphone (plus the t-shirt).

"To make this really great, we need your help," said Dillon, who also called on developers to create Sailfish apps.

Jolla has been working since late 2011 to create a new smartphone and operating system based on the now defunct MeeGo OS. A product of Intel and Nokia's merged Moblin and Maemo platforms, MeeGo was pushed forward by Intel after Nokia ditched the platform to pursue a relationship with Microsoft and its Windows Phone OS. Intel began shipping N9 devices in late 2011, but gave up shortly after.

The 4.5in Jolla smartphone is Android-app compliant. It boasts a dual-core processor and support for 4G LTE where available, as well as 16GB storage and a microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel camera, and a user-replaceable battery.

"I don't think that a year ago when we started any of us knew what was ahead. Wow, what an amazing journey it has been," Dillon said in a blog post. "We have the best team EVER working on Sailfish, we have the first fantastic devices and we have all that is needed to deliver and support them."

Jolla's "the Other Half" function allows users to customise their smartphone with a removable back case. "Attach the Other Half and your Jolla becomes alive and unique," the website said. "It becomes your other half, exactly as you want it to be."

But more than simply expressing your personality via colour schemes, the feature also changes the phone's software to match the selected colour and design. "Colors, fonts, tones, profiles, functionalities — all will adapt just as you wish by simply uniting the halves," the site said. There are no specifics about how the function works, but TechCrunch suspects it is done via NFC.

Sailfish is similar to the Windows Phone Live Tiles offering. The phone is also button-less, in an effort to make it feel natural and intuitive.

Jolla signed its first sales deal in July with D.Phone, China's largest smartphone retail chain, which will feature Jolla devices in its 2,000 stores.

Once the phone begins rolling out later this year, it is expected to reach only a select number of European countries, subject to local demand. Jolla said "we target to ship by end of 2013."