When it comes to fresh ideas for the future smart phones, we’ve seen manufacturers putting dual-cameras, dual-speakers and dual-displays. Some are merely a innovation gimmick and there are those that offer real life benefits to users. Yota Devices, a Russian manufacturer has introduced its YotaPhone concept that comes with unique twin display. Their first generation YotaPhone which is available in Europe for 499 Euros (about RM2,257), comes with a main 4.3″ HD 720p display while the back offers a E-Paper display of the same size but it isn’t touch enabled.
At Mobile World Congress, Yota has announced its new next generation YotaPhone aka YotaPhone 2 with updated specs and a larger screen. In terms of design, it ditches the boxy outlook of its first generation and it is more curvy like a Nexus 4. The front comes with a larger Full HD 5″ AMOLED display and it runs on more current Android 4.4 KitKat with a Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 processor underneath. There’s even NFC and 4G LTE connectivity also comes as standard.
Over at the back, the E-ink display is bigger at 4.7″ and this time it is touch enabled. In our hands-on, the E-ink display is rather clear and comfortable to read but the refresh rate is rather slow like any other e-paper based display. The biggest advantage of the E-ink display is power consumption as the first version claims to push 50 hours of usage on the E-ink alone. There’s no usage figures on the 2nd generation YotaPhone but we reckon it could be pushing similar or more usage hours.
In terms of apps, the YotaPhone 2 is rather limited with the basic notifications, dialer, contacts, maps, picture viewer, RSS and E-book readers. Apps supporting its E-ink display is expected to increase as Yota Devices have just released the SDK allowing developers to create custom apps and functions to make full use of a secondary display.
At time of writing, there isn’t a dedicated monochrome browser for the E-ink display, so if you plan to read web contents later, you would need to screen capture them and view it through the picture viewer. Yota says that a native browswer will be introduced later. Some of the apps demoed to us include a photography app which automatically previews the picture on the secondary screen. Since it is a protoype device, the 2nd generation YotaPhone has some stability issues and the back E-ink touch panel isn’t as responsive as we hoped.
The concept is an interesting one and we liked the idea of having a secondary display that uses minimal power. This makes it perfect for taking a peek at notifications or to use it as a web browser or to check on your social feed. After all, we consume mostly text content on our smart phones. In terms of availability, Yota says that their second generation is slated for end of this year and they have plans to make it internationally available outside of Europe.
Watch our hands-on video after the break.