We've seen dual display devices before, but never one like this. The Russian broadband service provider Yota has engineered their own Android phone, with big specs, and a full sized e-ink display on the back. If you're thinking that the name sounds familiar, Yota also happens to be the company that released the world's first Wimax 4G cellular network, and is a leader in 4G LTE technology.

The phone has been designed so that besides the always present time and weather notifications also are displayed on the e-ink panel. Social networking, calls, messages and reminders appear, or a user configurable slideshow of images can be displayed. Of course, you can also read news and eBooks on the 4.3-inch e-ink display. Flip things over, and a matching 4.3-inch 720p LCD is ready for watching a movie or surfing the web. It's novel, and different. I've always said I like different, and can't wait to have a good look at this one. 

We'll know more about release and pricing at MWC in February, but chances are it will be an eastern European and Asian only affair. We do have some specs though.

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8960 Dual Core 1.5 Ghz Krait
  • OS: Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Dimensions: 67 x 131 (7.3 / 9.9) mm
  • Weight: 140 grams
  • Display: EPD Eink, 4.3z-inch, LCD JDI, 4.3z1280x720 (HD)
  • Connectivity: LTE (bands 3, 7, 20 MIMO), 2G, 3G, 4G, Wifi (Direct), BT, NFC
  • Storage: 32 or 64 GB Flash
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Battery: 2100 mAh
  • Camera: 12 MP main camera, HD front camera 
  • Controls: Touch strip for EPD control, Power and Volume Keys, SIM slot combined with Power key button
  • Connectors: Magnetic Adaptor for charging and data, Audio 3.5mm

The 2100 mAh battery is a bit concerning since it's an LTE device powering two separate 4.3-inch displays (even if one is e-ink), but the specs are nothing to laugh at -- especially the part where it ships with 4.2 on board. Hopefully we learn some more about this one, and it eventually appears on an importers list. Hit the break for more press renders and the full press release.


New Archetype in Smartphones Unveiled Today

The YotaPhone with two displays will change the way people use their smartphones for notifications, reading experience, personalization and communications

Moscow, Russia. 12 December 2012.  A new archetype in smartphones with two displays will help consumers enjoy life’s virtual side without missing the real one, explains the phone’s creator, Moscow-based Yota Devices.

YotaPhone is a powerful Android-based phone. It is the first time a smartphone integrates a full-color LCD on one side and an electronic paper display (EPD) on the other side. The two displays are linked together to open a new world of unlimited user experiences.

The EPD is the user’s personal space for receiving notifications, linking to social media, reading news as it happens or simply displaying favorite pictures. The LCD and EPD are both 4.3 inches.

“This will be the first time that people will be able to personalize the information they want to receive on their phones in an effortless way,” said Yota Devices CEO Vlad Martynov. “You tell YotaPhone what information you want and when you want it. It becomes your personal assistant reminding you of what’s important to you.”

“Today if you want to check your email, calendar or social media page, you have to pick up your phone, turn it on, open the application and only then can you receive the information. With YotaPhone, this information will appear on the electronic paper display effortlessly, continuously and updated in real time,” Martynov explained.

The two displays have different functions and different purposes. YotaPhone lets users watch videos, play games and perform other functions best suited on the LCD, but adds an electronic paper display for content that requires longer reading time, like reading a book or magazine. It also keeps important information visible without draining the battery. Boarding passes, maps, tickets and other important information are displayed even if the battery dies.

“Technology is setting the tone of our lives rather than the other way around. We at Yota Devices aim to rebalance the relationship with our smartphone. YotaPhone takes all the best components of this great lifestyle product and amplifies them. At the same time, we address some of the ways smartphones interfere with us being truly social beings. YotaPhone is always connected, but in a smarter, less stressful way,” said Martynov.

Yota Devices has been working on YotaPhone for more than two years. The first model was shown to then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in September 2010 at a meeting on the country’s modernization program. Yota Devices has filed a number of patents, copyrights and design rights associated with YotaPhone.

YotaPhone uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8960 platform, one of the most advanced processors integrated into a single chip, and the latest release of the Google Android operating system. The API developed by Yota Devices will allow the developer community to create innovative ways to use and benefit from the phone’s two displays. Yota Devices has created a number of applications for YotaPhone to allow users to take full advantage of the EPD.

“YotaPhone is elegant, slim and sleek. It’s as gorgeous outside as it is inside, featuring two Corning Gorilla Glass screens, which are exceptionally resistant to damage,” Martynov said. This is the first time Corning’s 3D Gorilla Glass is being used on a smartphone.

YotaPhone will be available for sale worldwide in the second half of 2013. It is a multi-band, LTE phone that will work anywhere in the world. Exciting new details about YotaPhone and its innovations will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 25-28 February 2013.


Reader comments

The YotaPhone runs Android 4.2, has LTE, and two screens


E-ink requires very little battery life. I still agree about 2100 still may not be enough but that E-ink screen is pretty nifty. Its like you can customize the back of your phone (theoretically)... and then watch it break on first drop xD

^^^This right here. E-Ink requires next to no battery life at all, since it only refreshes pixels when they change. That's why Kindles have weeks-long (and sometimes months-long) battery life. I actually think it's great that they managed to fit a 2100mAh battery into a 4.3" phone this thin! Look at what HTC and LG have been putting into much larger phones.

Plus the new chipsets are much more battery efficient. If you have not used an Evo LTE, One X, or Galaxy SIII, for example, then you don't realize that 2100mAh is *plenty* of battery power.

I find this phone fascinating and love the idea. Not sure how practical it is, however.

I like that they're pushing into new 'patent frontier' with some interesting ideas. I have no use for this 'proof of concept' phone myself but if they can put together a phone with no oversights or drawbacks then I'm all ears.
Good to see a company be conservative/sensible with screen size also.

I work with these guys, so full disclosure. You've got to feel it, see it work and start imagining the possibilities — like putting boarding passes for flights or tickets for concerts on the EPD and knowing they will display even AFTER all battery power has been discharged. And did I mention it's sleek, beautiful and has Corning's newest gorilla glass on both sides? Yota Devices has a tiger by the tail!

I hope they bring this to CES this January in Vegas to show it off. Cool stuff never reaches the states, like the Padfone.

It seems like a lot of the really great phones gets killed on batteries. Manufacturers need to know that isn't somewhere that they can cut corners on.

When are people going to learn that Battery size is not everything? This is turning into the Gigahertz/megapixel war before it. The OG Evo with twice the battery size can not keep up with with today's Android Phone with just over 33% of the OG's battery size. Why? Because Optimization is key. Its all in the hardware and software optimization. If the CPU and screen tech consumes LESS power, while being higher performing, the battery lasts longer. Throw in software optimization and battery management, and you get even longer battery life.

Yes, this phone has 2 screens. But ask yourself why the Kindle can go up to a month without needing a charge... The e-ink display uses very little power.

Too bad this phone doesn't have pointy ears. Then it would be the YodaPhone!

In Russia, battery kills dual screens!

But seriously, doesn't this phone have everyone's dream specs?

OK fine, it's "only" the dual-core Qualcomm S4. But the US Galaxy S III's use the same CPU, and no one's complaining about them being out of date already. We'll just have to wait till MWC 2013 and hope that they change it to the quad-core Qualcomm S4 Pro. Even if they don't, the dual-core S4 is no slouch. At some point, the extra processing speed becomes irrelevant for anything besides serious gaming. Besides, the fact that it runs 4.2 Jelly Bean already means that they probably haven't changed Android much more than they need to, so that should help with its performance, too. Remember, this is a prototype, not the final device. Remember what we all said about the Nexus 4 leaks?

Also, 4.3 inches may be too small for many people, but I'm sure it's just right for many others who lament the large screens (4.7-4.8 inches) on every current high-end phone that I can think of (excepting the iPhone 5).

The way I see it, if they are going to make phones with fragile glass backs anyway, they may as well make it useful too. I do a ton of reading on my GNex, and screen on time is a killer. Kindle and Nook should take note and get busy. Using E ink in the light and having a backlit display for the dark would be wonderful.

You know who would love this? Verizon. They could put a giant ever changing Verizon logo on the back screen. Just to p*ss us off.

Also, an e-ink advertisement-subsidized phone. Sound familiar, Amazon??

The e-ink display is irrelevant to battery life. The Nook Simple Touch has a 1530 mAh battery and it lasts for weeks of reading before needing a recharge.

The concept sounded great, until it got to the part where the second screen only displays specialized information from preloaded apps. Why cant it perfectly mirror the LCD? That way you can keep the LCD off and use the phone like normal on e-ink in the sun or without wasting battery.

E-ink doesn't work well in that use-case, it also draws more power to constantly refresh it. Still, there's always rooting.

Yeah, the need for a special API kills it for me. They should've just created a special "Send to eInk" button that sends an app to the other screen. I'd love to have apps like Pocket or Feedly on eInk but with such limited distribution, I doubt they'll ever support this.

Yes! I was thinking how useful it'd be for web browsing if I could just 'send to backside'..

its a shame they need a special API but we still have time. I wish we could get something like this over here.

there was only one phone ever that i can think of that has a screen like that and it's the Rezound, which came out late 2011. i reaaaally want my next phone to have a 720p 4.3 inch screen but they are just not coming out. the screen sizes of these newer phones are just too much. if i want to use android on a larger screen ill just use a tablet. i want to carry around a phone that i can easily handle with one hand. to me, that is a phone with a screen no larger than 4.3 inches... that being said, if this phone comes to Sprint by this summer it will be miiiine.

Man, 720pHD on a 4.3" screen, I think this phone is going to have a high pixel density over here...

From the pictures, there is a speaker piece on both sides. And it looks like there are multiple microphones, on the top and bottom to allow you to be on either side for phone to ear operation.

I hope you mention this on this week show. would love to hear your take on it. especially in form factors beyond a standard phone...


This would really be awesome if it works. I read a lot on my phone, NST, & tablet and having the e-ink option built in would be so much nicer on the eyes.

I hope they have some kinda of sensor to detect which side you're looking at and turn off the other screen.

something like Samsung Smart Stay