Russian smartphone manufacturer Yota unveiled its dual-screen YotaPhone at a stylish event in Moscow. Yota has developed a number of other interactive applications that take advantage of the low power screen. The wonderfully kooky device combines a high-definition LCD display on the front with an e-ink display on the back, giving customers what Yota believes is the best of both worlds.
The traditional Android part of the phone is fairly unremarkable. Yota has customised Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 to use the same swipe and tap gestures as the e-ink display, so you swipe to the right to go to the home screen and to the left to return to the previous screen. Aside from that, it offers a familiar vanilla Android experience. These can all be controlled by tapping and swiping a panel under the e-ink display to flick between screens. This takes some getting used to, as the gesture control is less than perfect, but users are likely to appreciate the ability to interact with their second screen, rather than just use it to view static images.
With dimensions of 133.6x67x9.99mm and a weight of 146g, the YotaPhone sits nicely in the hand and feels fairly solid it is the first smartphone to use Corning’s Gorilla 3 shaped glass and has a special chassis housing YotaPhone’s six antennas on the outer rim. Although 9.99mm is fairly thick, the e-ink side of the phone curves inwards at the top to only 7.9mm, giving the impression of a thinner device. While the specs are not top-of-the-range the processor is only 1.7GHz and the battery 1800mAh the energy efficiency of the phone partially compensates for this.
For applications that have not been specially developed for use with the e-ink display, users can find an image they want using the LCD side of the phone, and then swipe two fingers from top to bottom to take a screenshot, which immediately displays on the e-ink screen. Notifications are also displayed on the e-ink display and remain visible until the user acknowledges them.
Other more gimmicky functions of the dual screen include taking photos using the YotaPhone’s 13-Megapixel camera the e-ink display shows an image of a camera and instructs you to smile and dynamic location-based wallpapers that display the user’s location, the time and the weather, and can be personalised with pictures and other widgets. The 4.3-inch LCD screen is bright and attractive with a resolution of 720x1280, putting it on a par with Motorola’s recently launched Moto G. It also has decent viewing angles. However, for innovation alone, this device gets full marks.