Yota launches e-ink second screen handset

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The Russian manufacturer has released its new dual-screen phone in Russia, Austria, Spain and Germany, and will launch in the UK in Q1 2014

Smartphone manufacturer Yota has launched a new handset with two screens, with one being an E-reader style e-ink screen.

The Russian company will sell its first handset from its own online shop, with the device going on sale immediately in Russia, Austria, Spain and Germany for €499 (£415) – making it more expensive than both the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (£379) and the Nexus 5 (£339).

Yota told Mobile News that the YotaPhone will be available to UK consumers in the “first quarter of 2014”, and will be available in 20 other countries by March 2014.

The St Petersburg-based company declined to comment on potential UK partners. However, UK operators were unaware of the device when asked by Mobile News. A Vodafone spokesperson said it “didn’t know anything” about the handset, while an EE spokesperson said it “did not have any news” on the handset. O2 and Three are yet provide a comment.

The Android device has a 4.3-inch 720p display on the front, with a 4.3-inch e-ink display on the rear. It has a 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor, 12-megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage.

The dual-screen format will allow certain applications – most notably e-books but also text messages and web pages – to be opened on the e-ink screen rather than the front screen in order to save battery life.

CCS mobile industry analyst Ben Wood commented: “The YotaPhone is an ambitious concept and although it will be considered a gimmick by many we believe there is merit in the design. With many smartphone owners struggling to make the battery on their device last a whole day, the option to have a secondary screen that uses little or no power to capture and display a ‘snapshot’ of the main screen could be attractive.

“The biggest challenge is overcoming the complex user interface design required to make the YotaPhone easy to use – constantly flipping from one face of the phone to the other presents some considerable headaches. It will be interesting to see how this works in practice once the phone is commercially available. Having a coherent and easy to understand interface has historically been the weakness of such products.”

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