The YotaPhone from Russian broadband provider, Yota, was only unveiled yesterday with Android 4.2 and a second, e-ink display. It packs some pretty tasty specifications, but the difference maker is the e-ink display on the back -- or the front, whichever way you're looking at it. And, while we had a selection of renders to whet our appetite, what we really want is to see this thing in action. 

The good folks over at The Digital Reader stumbled upon this hands on video, shot with the Head of Software Development at Yota Devices. It shows off both sides of the device, the interesting looking gesture area that replaces the capacitive or on-screen buttons, and how some apps look when mirrored to the e-ink display. He goes through a series of use case scenarios for such a device, but no-one can say it isn't an interesting concept. It's also worth noting that it seems the on board storage and the final name of the device aren't yet decided. 

via The Digital Reader


Reader comments

The YotaPhone and its e-ink display gets shown off on video for the first time


Interesting concept...not sure how good it'll be out in the real world.

My wife (who owns an iPhone 4) doesn't do well with touchscreens.

I will often hand her my phone to show her something and, as she takes the phone, she's like "Oh, wait...I did something and now the screen has changed!"

She, for some reason, has a problem with understanding that a device with a touchscreen means...if you "touch" the "screen" does stuff!

This device has TWO touchscreens. Even the guy in the demo, who is presumably VERY familiar with how the device works, seemed to have issues with trying to only hold it by the edges as he manipulated the phone around, and not touch either screen.

He also seemed to really push the fact that the e-ink display will keep the static image on it, even if the phone is totally discharged. Is that really a feature?

"Our phones have terrible battery life. If you own one, it'll die on you on a fairly regular basis. But, don't worry. The e-ink display will still show the last image loaded before the battery crapped out on you!"

Yeah, that's a great selling point.

Regarding the two touch screens, obviously they don't need both to be active at all times; the guy said this was a prototype and he probably wasn't used to handling it.

As to the permanence of the e-ink image, obviously all of these usecases that he presented are possible also before the battery has drained -- simply looking at a static map while having the LCD off will save you a great deal of battery. He didn't say it, but anyone with a tiny bit of imagination would have thought it.

So yeah, it is a feature, and a very useful one.

If they could make a 2-1 LCD E-Ink screen I'd be interested. The E-Ink would be on when the LCD is off... Maybe I'll just wait for a color E-Ink smartphone.

He was definitely holding it by the edges, but I don't think that was because the E-Ink display was a touch screen, I'm guess that since that was a prototype, he's afraid of touching the E-Ink display for fear of damaging it. This video, and other stuff I've read says that on the back, only the bottom bar is touch sensitive.

As for the display still showing an image even after the phone is dead, that could be useful, but for limited things. Say the battery is to low to power to phone, but it may still have enough juice to power a quartz timer and the E-Ink display, and it could still show the current time for hours even after the main phone as died. Just my thinking anyway.

All in all, I think this is really cool idea. Whether it ends up being useful or not, it's nice to see someone trying something really cool and interesting in the mobile phone area.

Great concept, I've been waiting for this on tablets (there was a rumour Kindle was going to have it). All of these gadgets have two sides -- use them both!

PLEASE keep us posted on this little guy! I actually had a similar dream, but for a tablet/e-reader device. This is a really interesting concept, and I'd love to see this reviewed once it becomes finalized.

And please, Yota, make this available elsewhere with LTE bands 4 (T-Mobile's future network) and/or 17 (AT&T's network)...or CDMA and LTE bands 13 (Verizon) and/or 25 (Sprint). That would make my year! (And don't forget to put enough storage in it. A 32 GB option would do it.)

PS: No, Yota probably won't read this, but I can dream.

I get 2 days use on my Note 2 battery before recharging. Why would I want to look at that ugly screen? Id rather carry around an extra battery or charging station and continue to use my nice HD screen for everything. Maybe I am missing the concept but this does not appeal to me.

Your getting 2 days on your Note 2 because it is not a phone but a phablet. Until Samsung offers a true RGB subpixel arrangement and increases the the DPI to something respectable for 2012-2013 the screen is just ok.

Well, the super-large form factor and S Pen input of the Note II doesn't appeal to me. Different strokes for different folks.

Doesn't look very appealing....definitely something that will not get much attention in the market. The concept, creativity and innovation is there, but there's something missing.


Glad that YotaPhone isn't the final name, I didn't want to say anything earlier, but yeah- that's terrible, however it could be worse.

It will be tricky to make a case for aswell, best way to do it would be to have a firm wraparound part covering the perimeter, then another thicker one that is hinged half way down on both sides so it can be rotated around it, with a stitched fold up back cover to reclip after you change screens. Or maybe horizontal rotate hinge in the top and bottom would be better, depending on final button layout.
I think I'd go with a neoprene sock slit down the side heh.

Appears to have a dedicated camera button on bottom right of phone, adjacent to the actual camera unit/lens on the back, strategically for good response time or for ergonomic reasons? hmmm...

I'll buy one on release day if it has a 5" form factor and a zippy quick quad core. With a 4" form factor, I'd still probably buy it.