When you think of smartphone vendors and where they’re located, you probably picture research labs in Korea, Taiwan or even here in the U.S., but not Russia. Yota Devices, a hardware company spun off from Russian carrier Yota, hopes to change all that by releasing a unique Android handset with a second E Ink screen on its backside.
Dubbed the YotaPhone, the handset features a 4.3-inch, 1280 x 720-pixel color display on its front side, along with a 200 dpi E Ink display on back. Inside, the device has a 1.5-GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage memory and a 4G LTE radio. A rear-facing 12-MP camera and 720p front facer should provide sharp images on the 0.4-inch-thick, 4.9-ounce body.
The back-facing E Ink screen will display social updates, notifications, news, weather, time or photos that are sent over by the operating system or apps that use Yota’s API. Since E Ink displays use very little power, Yota hopes that users will get better battery life if they spend some of their time staring at the back-facing screen in lieu of the color display.
To our knowledge, the YotaPhone will be the first handset with a back-facing E Ink screen. However, dual-screen phones have a decidely mixed history in the U.S. Last year, we reviewed and liked the Kyocera Echo, but found the LG DoublePlay bulky and annoying.
The company says it expects the YotaPhone to launch in Russia sometime in Q3 2013, but it also says it’s talking to U.S. carriers about bringing the device to this market. We hope to get a look at this unique phone at Mobile World Congress in February or, if possible, at CES. Until then, check out this hands-on video from MobileReview.com.