An Android smartphone that has both a regular color touchscreen and an e-paper display will go on sale later today in Russia and parts of Europe. It's called the YotaPhone, and it s priced at €499 in Europe and 19,980 rubles in Russia (so around $600-$675). In our time with the device earlier this year, we found the premise to be promising idea, but both prototypes we've spent time had significant issues with responsiveness. Hopefully the kinks in the experience have been ironed out for the retail edition.
The YotaPhone has a 4.3-inch 720p LCD display, a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Its e-paper display at the back is also 4.3 inches, but has a lower resolution of 640 x 360 pixels. The rear display isn't designed to replace the LCD, but instead augments the experience. As e-paper draws no power when displaying a static image, Yota describes it as an 'always-on, low power display," which can be used to view ebooks, battery, notifications, and other information.
This video hands-on depicts a prototype unit, not a retail device.
Anything seen on the main screen can be captured and sent to the back of the device; so you could save a map or shopping list and have it displayed on the e-paper display permanently without wasting battery. There are no physical buttons on the device, aside from a power key at the top and volume rocker on the side. Instead, there are two touch-sensitive strips mounted beneath both displays, which are supposed to function in place of the home, back, and multitasking buttons found on most Android devices.
No firm plans for a US launch
Yota, which until now has concerned itself with 3G and LTE modems, hopes to sell 500,000 YotaPhones across its launch territories, with the bulk of those sales expected to come from Russia. In Europe, it'll go on sale today in Germany, France, Austria, and Spain, before launching in January in the UK, Czech Republic, Greece, and Cyprus in January next year.
Other European nations are targeted for a first quarter release, but there's no plan for a US release just yet. For now, sales are restricted to the YotaPhone website. The company doesn't appear to have garnered much support from carriers, apart from in Russia and Germany where it says some retailers will stock the device.