Monday, 27 October 2014

Solar Other Half - Does it charge your Jolla

Test and Review: 
SolarTOH from Funky OtherHalf

This community build by Dirk van Leersum enables recharging of Jolla phone with solar panel. I've tested it in a weather of Finland in the end of October, Let's see how it performs.

Update: New recharge chart added

Solar TOH - Does it charge your Jolla?

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Tampere, Finland, in the end of October, has the perfect testing conditions for a solar panel accessory. Temperature outside varies between 0°C and 12°C, and the Sun, if it's even visible, doesn't rise higher than 20 degrees above the horizon.
In these conditions, I had an opportunity to benchmark a Jolla's smart cover: SolarTOH by Dirk van Leesum (link to shop).

Update: The latest recharge test
Above, the latest chart represents Solar TOH's loading power with only WLAN on. This test took place at October 30, 2014 close to Tampere, Finland. Notes about the test and environment:

  • This time I didn't live monitor the charging, but instead I asked the load level via SSH connection every ten minutes.
  • Sun stays very low here in this time of year, reaching only 14,7 degrees above horizon at noon (12:09 local time) on the testing day. More about the local conditions on this weather/astonomy site
  • Temperature readings are outside temperatures, meter set to a sunny spot. Jolla was charged outside, battery temperature stayed low too varying between 38-41°C. Battery could easily handle 60°C temperatures
  • Battery load in two hours: From 13% to 21%
    (average 15 mins for each 1% gain)
This is a great result in such a northern location, promising nice gains in areas where the Sun is higher. Solar TOH is capable to charge your battery on Jolla phone. 

Original post:

Day 1, testing conditions:
  • Cloudy, sun was visible only for the last hour of the chart below
  • Jolla was placed against modern, UV filtered window, solar TOH towards the cloudy sky
  • Jolla was connected to home WLAN, and charging monitor application by Kimmo Lindholm was running on the background

Blue line represents the battery load of Jolla, red is for the internal battery temperature. As soon as the Sun was visible (at 11:30), Jolla was able to maintain it's battery load with solar power even that an application was running. Battery temperature stayed at acceptable level, reaching 49°C at max, one hour after noon.

Day 2: Sunshine on a race track, 27 min video, conditions:
  • Sunny weather, the Sun 12°-20° above horizon
  • Jolla was placed outside to avoid the effect of the UV filter in the window of our house. Temperature outside: 8°C-12°C
  • Jolla was connected to the computer vie SSH over WLAN, live monitoring the recharge level and battery load with upower on Linux terminal
In these conditions, I managed to get Jolla's battery load from 89% to 92%, gaining 3% in about 2 hours. The video shows the weather conditions from the local race track on the left (notice the length of the shadows), and the live monitoring of upower over SSH connection on the right.

Day 3 - "A day at the beach", conditions:
  • Simple internet radio application (QuickRadio for Sailfish OS) receiving music via WLAN. Audio was sent to home stereo system over Bluetooth
  • Test was reproduced, starting from the same battery load level and battery temperature, in three different setups:
    • Yellow: Jolla was placed outside with SolarTOH in cloudy weather, outside temperature 0°C
    • Orange: Jolla was placed inside against window with SolarTOH in mostly cloudy, some moments of sunshine
    • Blue: Jolla was placed inside with Aloe The Other Half
Chart: One hour of listening to radio over WLAN and Bluetooth

Yellow bars and the blue line, the best result, was reached with Jolla placed outside. It seems that the UV filter in a modern window has a negative effect to solar panels, as the weather conditions was actually better during the inside test (orange bars, red line). The worse result, which still isn't bad, was tested as the reference with Aloe TOH (blue bars, green line)

In one hour, the battery load dropped from 80% to 76% in the best result with Solar TOH. Compared to Aloe TOH results, from 80% to 72% in the same time, it seems that the Solar TOH is capable to double the time of this use in these weather conditions. This suggests a great result in countries with the Sun rising higher, or in Finland at summer. I guess that you can listen to the radio over Bluetooth forever, when the weather is nice, and even gain battery load in perfect conditions.

Day 4: Bad weather, time to shoot some photos

 Build quality: Solar panel sits tight in this 3D printed cover. I had to use brutal force to take it off, and it was as difficult to get it back there. Very nice! You can see the charging pins on left, connected directly to the power sockets visible on the back side of Jolla
 Solar TOH is thicker than the official The Other Half covers from Jolla Shop, but just a bit. Unfortunately thick enough to not fit to Insmat leather case, which means that I'm currently hunting a new case for my Jolla
 There's a nice inlay for Jolla's camera and flash, and in overall the surface feels much better than the surface in the official covers. This one is less flippery, feeling kind of soft when holding the phone.
 In the lack of true sunlight in the photo shooting day, My wife's sister Satu Santala's graphic artwork was used as a background for this "commercial photo". Equipping your Jolla with Solar TOH makes you a friend of environment, reducing global warming.
This happens when you show the Sun to your Jolla: "Bling blong" - Charging...
Above: Solar TOH, both sides
Below: Snow White The Other Half
Left: Backside of Jolla smartphone

Conclusion: Would I recommend to order one?

For these reasons, yes:
  • Build quality. Solar TOH is as good as the official covers, fitting nicely into the phone, having even a better surface to hold the phone in hand
  • Environment issues: Solar power should be used as much as possible, reducing the need of producing electricity in less environment friendly ways
  • Usage time: As seen in the tests, even when the phone is in use, the battery lasts longer with the solar TOH. Not in your pocket of cource, but think for example using Jolla as a navigator in car, putting the phone against the windshield. Or the day at the beach :) (hope it's warmer where you live)
  • Community: Supporting any community builds is just unlike, and Dirk is a great guy with a sence of humour too. Check his other products as well ;)
  • Pricing: Having only 20€ higher price than the official The Other Half covers in Jolla Shop, this one is even worth it.
  • Unlike: Have you seen many guys with such an accessory?
For these reasons, I'd wait for a while:
  • Weather: If you live northern than me (e.g. in Lapland), the amount of sunshine isn't too great during winter. In that case you might wait for the summer before ordering one. but well... Maybe it's better to be quicker anyway - these might get out of stock. (honest opinion: I suppose they will)
  • Case: Having this on your phone means that you have surface in both sides of your phone, and it makes you feel that something might happen. I wish that Dirk could add at least a small, soft sachet to which you can cover the phone until there's a "SolarTOH case" available somewhere
Note for using:

Don't leave your Jolla to stay in the sunshine for too long time. Mobile phones are not designed to handle excessive heat. You can monitor the temperature of the battery with either ChargeMonitor app (available in OpenRepos, download rpm), or in developer mode, using Terminal app and giving command upower -d [enter]. Scroll up for the temperature reading. Kimmoli: Maybe you could add a temperature warning signal to your nice app?

Review Jolla rates this product with

5.2  / 5 unlike points

Link to Funky OtherHalf store

Edit: Note the next big happening, already tomorrow, in this same shop

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Published: October 27, 2014 14:06 UTC
Updated: October 30, 2014 12:36 UTC


  1. I know it's been a while since this Test has been published, but maybe i'll get an answer. So i bought the Jolla Phone and the solar ToH. I was really happy to see how it works (it is Summer right now in Germany) and laid my phone with the solar panel side into the sun. The recharging sound rang and i was hoping to see a nice surprise. Which i did: after two hours of "charging" my phone lost about 15 % of its battery. I had no apps runing during the charge process and wasn't even online. How is this possible? Did i do something wrong?

    Best Regards


    1. Good that you asked! Yes, I've soetimes run to this as well, and it seems to happen when the light conditions are "in the limit" for a while. For example when night falls, or a bigger cloud covers the sun. In my experience the power management (in phone) might get into a loop (charging-discharging-charging...) which consumes power, and only reboot ends the loop, so even removing the SolarTOH doesn't help. This is a bug in Sailfish OS power management, not an issue in the SolarTOH, so it's for Jolla to fix... I've reported it to them a long time ago, and Dirk as well, but no answer so far.

  2. I had the same problem. My solartoh discarge the battery as if the Jolla was a shitty android device!