We were quite impressed when we got a chance to play with the first generation YotaPhone at last year's Mobile World Congress. This year Yotaphone has unveiled the second generation of the innovative dual-screen device.
Like the original YotaPhone, the new model comes with a regular color-touchscreen on the front and an e-ink display, similar to the ones you'd find in an Amazon Kindle e-reader, on the back. The idea is that you use the front screen for activities that are more fun or efficient on a color screen, such as watching video or browsing the web, and the rear screen for activities that can easily be done on a black and white display, such as reading emails or reading an e-book. The advantage of the e-ink display is that it uses very little battery and always stays on. YotaPhone claims you get more than 50 hours battery life out of the device when reading on the always-on display.
The big news on the new device is that not only the front but also the rear screen is now touch-sensitive. So you can not only read messages on the e-ink side but also respond to them and interact with the device in other ways, without activating the color display. This makes the new YotaPhone a whole lot more useful than its predecessor.
The hardware has been substantially upgraded for the new device, too. Both screens on the old device measured 4.3 inches and have now been enlarged to 5 inches for the AMOLED color screen and 4.7 inches for the e-ink display respectively. The device is now powered by a Qualcomm quad-core 800 series processor and comes with wireless charging and NFC technology. The design is more attractive, with rounded corners and a thinner body, too.
The new phone comes with a few Yota-specific apps, including Sportscaster, which allows users to track their favorite team, including play-by-play text commentary on the always-on display. Fitness Tracker syncs with any health monitoring device and tracks health status and fitness goals. Yota Devices has also made its SDK available to third-party developers in order to promote the development of apps that make use of the unique dual-screen design. Interested developers can find more information on the YotaFone website.
We have no information about the camera specification at this point but if Yota Devices manages to fit a decent camera module between the two screens the new YotaPhone might just be the device for those mobile photographers who like to occasionally stop and read a novel or text book while shooting.
The next generation YotaPhone will be on sale in the EMEA region and Russia in the fourth quarter of 2014. Three to four months later a version for the US and Asian markets will follow. Yota Devices is also planning to announce an upgrade program to allow users of the first generation YotaPhone to purchase the new model at a discount.