YotaPhone 2: a dual-screen smartphone from Russia

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Do you wish that your smartphone’s battery would last just that little bit longer? Do you struggle do get more than a day of use? A Russian company called Yota has just released the YotaPhone 2 – a dual-screen Android phone with an AMOLED front display and an E-Ink screen on the back, delivering much improved battery life.

The rear of every smartphone you can buy today is largely wasted space, aside from the de facto camera and the occasionally gimmicky feature such as a heart-rate sensor. But the YotaPhone is an ambitious attempt to actually do something useful with that space while also radically reducing the drain on the battery.

What’s the YotaPhone 2 all about?

The YotaPhone is the only dual-screen smartphone that you can buy today.

“Slim, powerful and beautiful, Yotaphone 2 combines Android familiarity with something that has never been accomplished before: two fully touch-enabled displays with two very different personalities.” – Yota

The concept originated as far back as 2010, and since then has resulted in several prototypes including the original YotaPhone 1, first demonstrated at large at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 2012.

By the end of 2013, the YotaPhone 1 went on sale in Russia, shortly followed by selected international markets. Now that the second model has been released, it’s fair to say that there’s nothing else quite like it…

A closer look

YotaPhone 2

The YotaPhone 2 is almost an entirely normal Android smartphone – it runs Android “KitKat” (not the latest, but hopefully there will be an update to Lollipop) and has a large 5-inch AMOLED display that can display full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) video at 442 pixels per inch. Basically, the front screen is pretty decent and will be able to show all your movies with ease.

However, on the back of the phone is a 4.7-inch electronic paper (also called E-Ink) display that can show 16 levels of grey. It’s also a touch screen (which uses the very tough Gorilla Glass 3) and has a resolution of 960 x 540 at 235 pixels per inch. That’s fairly similar to the Amazon Kindle Voyage in terms of the display (though that has a higher density display at 300 pixels per inch) but the YotaPhone does so much more than just let you read books.

The rear screen can be used to check your emails, use Twitter, play games and receive various notifications. You can also choose to use the back display rather than main screen for specific apps – for example if you want to check Google Maps. It’s also very customisable in that you can arrange “YotaPanels” on the screen, which are basically empty spaces where you can pin shortcuts such as contacts, apps, and various phone functions (oh, and you can also play a game of chess on it!).

There’s also some ‘widgets’ that come ready to use on the rear, such as SMS, email, music, weather and RSS (news feeds), which you can place into any YotaPanel and customise their appearance and behaviour.

We believe our technology constitutes an entirely new species of mobile device, not just by integrating a power efficient electronic paper display but by making two screens work in harmony – Yota CEO, Vlad Martynov.

The E-Ink display hardly uses any power unlike traditional smartphone screens, and it can be read in bright sunlight with ease – the downside is that you can’t see anything in dim conditions or total darkness.

Features and specs

YotaPhone 2 Details

Here’s a quick rundown of the unique features, as listed by Yota themselves:

  • The Yota Always-On Display can drastically improve battery life, offering up to five days of e-book reading from a single charge. Ordinary Android phones also have power-saving modes, but Yotaphone 2 lasts up to three times longer based on usage that involves reading, messaging and calling. Reading on the Yota Always-On Display is up to 7x more power efficient than on the AMOLED HD screen.
  • The Yota Always-On Display offers almost 180 degree viewing angles and excellent readability even in direct sunlight, making it easy to see and use any Android app while you’re outdoors.
  • The Yota Always-On Display offers an “at-a-glance” view of what’s happening in your personal world, removing the need to constantly pick up, turn on and navigate to your emails, social networks or text messages. Just like a wristwatch, all you have to do is look and everything you need is available at first glance
  • Yotaphone 2 is lightweight at only 145 grams. It’s also very slim (144 x 69.5 mm x 8.9 mm) and, with durable Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, it is far from fragile. It’s a mobile device that is both useful and elegant.

The YotaPhone 2 isn’t the most powerful smartphone compared to some of the flagship devices you can buy, but the specifications are certainly well up to par and should be fairly zippy at most tasks:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.2 Ghz quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC
  • An 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash
  • A front-facing 2MP camera.
  • 4G/LTE, WiFi and Near Field Communications (NFC) connectivity

Summary

The YotaPhone 2 has already been released in the UK for £555 (a brick-and-mortar shop just opened in Shoreditch, London). It’s also available in Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet when it will be available in Thailand but we’ll keep you posted if we hear of any updates.

The phone is a truly innovative concept, and one that we can imagine catching on for new smartphones in general. It’s certainly very interesting, and the idea of getting a few more days out of your phone’s battery is a very appealing one.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the YotaPhone 2, or even whether you have seen one in person.

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2 Comments

  1. jeffrey346 on

    I believe they are now located in Canada. They took over some empty Blackberry buildings