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Tue 24 Jun 2014 03:07 PM

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Russian YotaPhone targets bookworms

Two screens in one. An LCD touch screen on one side and a Kindle-like e-reader on the other.

Russian YotaPhone targets bookworms

YotaPhone, the Russian smartphone concept by Yota Devices, has attracted media attention and industry acclaim ever since it was a sketch on a designer’s pad. A year after, it is now trickling into global markets at a rather gradual pace. Jumbo electronics decided to bring it to UAE customers at an initial price point of $600.

Most coverage and awards the device has so far enjoyed can be explained by its main differentiating feature: double 4.3 inch screens.

On one side, we find a normal LCD touch screen, while on the other side it sports an e-ink screen of the same size. Both are slightly titled. But it's not just about having an extra screen, the implications of it have a huge impact on the usage model and how people interact with the device.

The concept revolves around a simple observation. Studies show that smartphone users pick up and activate their devices more than 150 times a day just to make sure that they don't miss important notifications, which represents an additional unnecessary power expense.

Having notifications and updates constantly visible on the "always-on" e-ink screen in the back multiplies the battery life of the device by cancelling these useless activations of the power-hungry LCD screen.

As a matter of fact, E-ink only needs a pulse of power when the display changes, and then the image stays in place without using any electricity till it needs to change again. This also means that the second screen on a YotaPhone will display the last image it had even if the phone is off and the 1800 mAh battery is drained. You can thus keep important information visible (a map for example, or your scheduled meetings) till you have an opportunity to recharge your phone.

This secondary screen is also an ideal Kindle-like e-reader. It offers a comfortable reading experience in various lighting conditions including bright sunlight, without draining the battery. Both screens have small touch-sensitive navigation panes below them, which proves to be particularly useful to navigate the e-ink non-touch screen.

Yota Devices has included a few specific apps to take advantage of this screen, and promises clients to keep developing more of them in-house and through partnerships.

YotaPhone also features two cameras: a decent main 13 MP, flash-enabled one and a front-facing camera with a weaker 1MP camera. It obviously doesn’t target selfie addicts. It concentrates on practicality, is LTE-enabled, and can store up to 32 GB of data.

It is an elegant and functional phone with a sober mat black finish, and palm-friendly dimensions (133.6x6.7x9.99mm) in an era of shiny giants.

Performance wise, YotaPhone might have been much more competitive when it was conceived with its dual-core Krait 1.7 GHz processor and Android 4.2.2. operating system. Yet again, it is not really destined for data-intensive gaming or binge video streaming.

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