YotaPhone, the smartphone with a second always-on e-ink screen, is now official

The YotaPhone, a unique device with an always-on e-ink display on its back in addition to a traditional LCD on the front, has - after months of development - finally become official. A product of Russian company Yota Devices, it is available for pre-order now in a number of European countries and it’s gearing up for launch in as many as 20 markets by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

But what is the YotaPhone? The whole concept has been swirling around for around a year and that long time that it’s been cooking has sadly made an impact on its inner guts that seem a bit lacking, but the main idea here circles around the second always-on battery-frugal e-ink display. Now, there is a 4.3” 720 x 1280 pixel LCD display on the front of the device and that sounds like a fairly common screen for a mid-range device. So are the 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core chip, 2GB of RAM, and 1800mAh battery. The device also features a 13-megapixel camera.

What is not common, though, is the secondary e-ink always-on screen on the back of the device that also measures 4.3 inches in size. E-ink is a type of monochrome displays that is extremely battery efficient and perfectly readable even under direct sunlight, so it’s great for use outdoors. YotaPhone puts it to good use - it refreshes automatically with your notifications and messages, and custom apps have been built so for instance you can see an always up-to-date Twitter stream on the back of the device. The back screen has a resolution of 360 x 640 pixels, supports 16 scales of grey and there is a capacitive touch zone below it for gesture controls. You can also easily send a book to read to the e-ink screen. Other content like images can also be easily beamed with a simple two-finger swipe from the top in a number of optimized apps.

It gets even more interesting as access to the e-ink display is open to developers via APIs that Yota Devices have developed.

It's hard to say what the future holds for the YotaPhone, and in the current reality of spec and camera wars, we’ve seen devices that innovate in different areas like the Moto X with its ergonomics and always-on voice breakthroughs struggle to get wider user adoption. The YotaPhone is that kind of device that falls out of the mainstream narrative and would likely end up being a niche device - at least that’s what we’d expect - but it’s still very refreshing to see some innovation directed in a completely different area such as the secondary e-ink display here.

The YotaPhone is launching in its home market in Russia tomorrow with a starting price of 19,990 Russian rubles, and it will also come to Europe (Austria, France, Spain and Germany) at €499. Yota will further expand into Europe and the Middle East by end Q1 2014, but has not announced any plans to chase after the influential American and Asian markets. Hit the link right below for more information and to actually pre-order, if you like what you see.

Finally, right below is the YotaPhone unveiling event in its entirety and with the Q&A session that followed.

source: CNET



16. xoxoGeorges

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

The most interesting phone in a long time. Somebody big buy them for traction.

15. TheYellowDart

Posts: 26; Member since: Oct 18, 2013

This needs to be on a tablet, it would mean the best of both worlds. Especially if they can make the e-ink side something like the paperwhite kindle. Obviously amazon should make this into their kindle fire line so folks can buy on the fire side and read all day long on the e-ink side!

10. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

This may sound weird, but I would want a phone with an e-ink display as the primary display. Would be interesting to see just how much battery it uses and how manufacturers would try to design the UI to fit the black-and-white screen (come to think of it, the Metro UI would fit perfectly with this screen) P.S. No '50 Shades Of Grey' jokes?

12. Pancholo

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

More like 16 scales of grey!

14. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

Haha zing! (ah I miss the old =3 episodes)

9. Pancholo

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Someone should make a case/cover with an e-ink display if people really crave it. A phone with more features that further suck on your battery juice is a no-go for me, sadly. I understand that e-ink displays' battery drain is minimal, but it's still sucking it and at the moment, I can live without it.

8. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

If released earlier this year it could have made a splash. The new batch of flagships (and their new features) are just too advanced that the e-ink display would be easy to overlook and wouldn't catch the attention of a typical consumer.

5. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Surprised it took so long to get it done, although I always wished for the e-ink flip cover case for similar purposes, both now sorta a reality.

3. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Like old flip phones with small notification screen on the lid. But what if you drop it?

11. Kaiser2007

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 16, 2013

My Moto V195 has it. Small screen is always on. The phone is still fully functional. I keep it as my back up phone.

2. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

I would like to get my hands on this YodaPhone, does it come with a light saber for free?

4. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Yeah but with short one. I recommend Samsung Galaxy Skywalker.

7. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

No thanks, I like the Nokia Lumia R2-D2 more.

1. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

lol the the second ink display reminds me slightly of the lps on the nokia n9 and the new lumias and old symbian devices when it comes to notification but other wise definetely alot more functional and cool would like to see where this ends up in a year !!

6. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

The Flop sold Nokia to Microsoft, but that doesn't mean Nokia designs will extinct, it's still alive. And we will see more phones that look like Nokia Lumias in the future. Now there are few phones that have the Nokia Lumia design, for example, the Xiaomi Mi3, Jolla, and the YotaPhone.

13. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

i wanna nokia to buy jolla and make a brand new hardware division full of young finnish talent and see where it takes us !

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