Every new smartphone seems to be following the same set of rules: bigger display, better processor, improved camera and a few extra mAhs of battery life to tide us over. But not every OEM is following the archetypal new handset policy. The Russian makers of YotaPhone have expressed their interest in going against the grain by teasing a dual-screen handset featuring an LCD on one side and an eInk (think Kindle Paperwhite) display on the other, and after months of nothingness, the devices is finally being released throughout many parts of mainland Europe.
The first thing to note about the YotaPhone is that it’s probably an acquired taste. After all the days of flip / clam devices boasting two screens seem long gone (unless you’re Samsung), and with the likes of Nokia and LG pushing devices with 5-inch+ panels, surely we, the consumer, have ample space to view everything we need at any given moment.
Well, the makers of the YotaPhone seem to think we’re missing something, and thus, the €499/19,990 RUB handset today makes its debut in Russia, Austria, France, Spain and Germany, with over a dozen more markets seeing the device in the coming months.
Like Samsung’s random spate of clamshell smartphones over the past couple of years, it’s really hard to know what to make of the YotaPhone, which offers a modest 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 4.3-inch 720p main display. The battery, at 1800mAh, doesn’t seem as though it would be able to power two displays for a whole day, although the rear-facing eink display is certainly the reason this device is held in any kind of regard at all.
The rationale behind the second display works almost like the outer display of a flippy — to beam certain info in a concise, easy-to-digest manner. By performing a downward, two-finger swipe gesture on the main display, a screenshot is beamed to the outer panel, and although it does only work with a couple of apps right now, Yota plans to open up the API for an enhanced experience.
The YotaPhone strikes me as a novelty device, and with the likes of the iPhone 5s, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 on the market, I very much struggle to see where this kind of idea will make its mark. Then again, once the product becomes refined and the specs improve, it’s not outlandish to suggest that Yota’s innovative take on the smartphone could mount a serious challenge on the current industry leaders.