Hands-on: the next generation YotaPhone [VIDEO]

For those of you who followed last year’s coverage of Mobile World Congress might remember a unique little smartphone called the YotaPhone. The brain child of a small Russian startup, the YotaPhone was an interesting device crazy enough to combine a stock Android experience with the power of an e-ink display on its back. The results were nothing short of magical, making the YotaPhone one of our favorite devices from MWC last year.

With mobile technology seemingly plateauing at the moment, you can either slap more cores into a device, or try and think outside the box and come up with something truly useful. This is exactly what the folks at YotaPhone did after successfully launching the first generation device in select markets back in December. This year, YotaPhone is back again with an all new, spruced up model for 2014.

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Let’s be honest, last year’s YotaPhone was a bit of an eyesore. For 2014, the next-gen YotaPhone is a far more visually appealing device, mixing equal parts beauty and function. It’s like those teenage movies where the sweet nerdy chick gets a hot new makeover. For those only interested in raw specs, here’s what the upcoming YotaPhone 2 is packing under the hood:

YotaPhone 2014 specs

  • 5-inch 1080p full HD display (442ppi) w/ secondary e-ink display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 8MP/2MP cameras
  • 2,550mAh battery
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

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Software

Because the YotaPhone is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Android (or mobile for that matter), it takes a suite Yota’s specialty apps to get the secondary e-ink display working with the software. Apps for calendar, to-do lists, wallpapers, social networks, RSS feeds and so forth were all created specifically to beam to the back of the device, where they’ll remain, always visible, even if the phone runs out of battery and is powered down. Epic.

Besides always displaying information at a glance, the back e-ink display is also touch activated. Normally locked, a gesture can unlock the touch screen functionality, allowing users to read through RSS feeds, scroll through tweets, or flip through the pages of their favorite book. When taking a pic, the back of the device displays an old fashioned camera, displaying the picture to the subject immediately after it’s been snapped.

Battery drain

It’s not hard to see the benefits a secondary e-ink display offers users. A significant amount of our device’s battery drain comes from simply powering our battery hungry displays. Checking Facebook, Twitter, or other notifications begins to take a toll. With e-ink, virtually no battery is required to keep an app displayed with YotaPhone promising up to 50 hours of battery life in stand-by mode with e-ink activated. Simply place the device on your desk and at a glance, you’ll always be up to date with whatever is going on in your life, be it work or play.

Availability

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With the first generation YotaPhone, the smartphone startup mentioned the device was more or less an experiment, meant to test the waters and gauge consumer demand for their device. YotaPhone understands that early adopters might not be as receptive to the announcement of a newer, improved YotaPhone only a few months after the original was released. This is why Yota is promising a “generous” trade-in program for first generation YotaPhone buyers looking to upgrade to the new model when it hits the market Q4 of this year.

YotaPhone coming to the US?

When it comes to US availability, don’t expect to find the YotaPhone at your local carrier store but don’t let that get your hopes down. Even without carriers chomping at the bit for the device, Yota did promise a US compatible version of the device to launch within a few months after it launches in Europe. That’s still quite a ways off, so whether or not you’ll want one by then remains to be seen.

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  • J Cav the Great

    Thank You Chris for including specs with your video articles….

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      <3

  • No_Nickname90

    Perfect Phone:

    This E-Ink display on the back
    HTC’s speakers and design
    Sony’s Water-resistant
    Qwerty Keyboard (Though I don’t know how that would work)

    Reasons I still would buy watches is because it’s a hassle just to check the time. 5+ seconds when all I’m wanting is to see what time it is. How nice would it be if I just take my phone out my pocket and it’s already there?

  • Josephus

    I like it

  • scoter man1

    It’s a really cool design concept. I wonder what happens to e-ink if it gets dropped/hit pretty hard.

    • Max

      Amazons kindles that use e ink are pretty rugged there are some descent YouTube torture tests since e ink doesn’t have backlight its a simpler construction than led

  • Herbie Valentine

    I wanted to see the Russian girl :-(

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Ha! She was actually pretty cute :P

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        Pics or it didn’t happen.

      • Herbie Valentine

        Someone could always go back and say they didn’t capture ALL the footage… #cameraproblems

  • Fodografes

    “What else?!”

    • Unorthodox

      Literal English translation of a Russian filler phrase “Что еще”. :) I found it hilarious too.

  • Sterling Mace

    What was this recorded with, iphone 4? Ever hear of focus lock?

  • steveb944

    That looks freaking awesome!

  • Mr. Smith

    This looks legit would pay not sure if she talked pricing

  • O’s Fan91

    Darn cool. Not for me, but darn cool.

  • aranea100

    It’s pretty cool. How protected are the screens? My Nexus has glass back but it survived a few drops. Will this phone survive drops too? More does it sense when turned around and turn off the LCD screen? If not it’s not that much of a battery saver. Will it answer calls using only the e-ink screen?

  • Tony T.

    Cool, but can it survive drops… obviously, this thing will only be useful with a bumper case, which kind of sucks. Personally, I never leave my phone naked because I don’t wanna take a risk dropping it. So it’s kind of a deal breaker for me, but I am glad there are companies out there taking risks and thinking outside the box.

  • Tom Sly

    I would absolutely buy this.

  • Jed_Blore

    I want this SF bad!

  • Unorthodox

    If it comes with Canadian LTE, I’ll swap my N5 for this in a heartbit.
    Молодцы Йота, очень достойный девайс!

  • saynotopunx

    I would like to see something like this, but instead of an e-ink display on the back, put it on the front of a folio cover. That way you get the protection of a case and the convenience of the secondary display.