The ground breaking brand returns with its second edition smartphone boasting a streamlined look and a full range of innovative features
Mid this year, the first mass produced two-sided smartphone, the YotaPhone was launched; its reincarnation, the YotaPhone 2, is now here.
Forget about the minute tweaking, barely visible to the human eye, that goes for “upgrades” in much of the smartphone scene-the YotaPhone has gone through a major makeover. But then again, the first edition was more of a prototype, so we’ll have to wait and see if Yota Devices can maintain their revolutionary streak in editions to come.
Back to the here and now though.
The YotaPhone has clearly been working out, and has lost quite a bit of heft. The YotaPhone 2 is a much sleeker device with lines and edges that seem to blend into each other as opposed to the odd looking initial effort.
But of course the raison d’être for the YotaPhone is the double-sided display. The typical smartphone look and design, Vlad Martynov, Chief Executive Officer, Yota Devices says, has barely changed in the last eight years even though the way people use their phones has changed dramatically.
“The way people interact with their phone nowadays is at a great inconvenience to them as they have to turn on their phone every time they have to access their notifications, emails etcetera-more than 100 times a day in fact according to research.”
The Android YotaPhone 2 brushes away all this hassle with the second Always-On Display, an e-ink screen that is ideal for e-reading, notifications, outdoor visibility and much more. This is in addition to the traditional high-definition 1080p AMOLED screen. “We have created a whole new category of smartphones,” Vlad says.
To get here, Yota Devices relied on the feedback the company received from first edition, according to Vlad. The result, a smartphone that the company believes delivers a more valuable user experience for the customer.
For users in the Middle East especially, the e-reader is especially crucial as users are able to read in direct sunlight, Vlad observes.
Though essentially a start-up, YotaPhone is now an international brand with sales offices all over the world. Yota Devices has recently opened a fully-fledged office in Dubai to cater for the Middle East and African markets with Abdul Karim Sawan picked as the new VP for Middle East and Africa.
Abdul observed that trends in the Middle East is for people to replace their phones every 6-9 months. “So we see the opportunity towards strong market growth for us to differentiate ourselves in the region and offer a clear differentiator with the back screen that is always on and that significantly extends the battery life,” Abdul said adding: “Middle East consumers always look for a differentiating factor, something to make them stand out from the rest so having a back screen that is interactive is a major selling point for the YotaPhone”
The other major advantage of the YotaPhone is the battery life. “We measure battery life on the YotaPhone in days not hours,” said Vlad. The technology behind e-ink display on the back of the YotaPhone uses only a fraction of an LED screen. And that is even before the one-touch saving mode has been activated on the YotaPhone. Essential functions remain on when the battery goes down.
Many of the Android apps have not been optimized for an e-reader. But YotaPhone has released its APIs to allow developers to customize their apps especially for this platform. There are now customized apps Al Jazeera, Euro Sport, Abby and more. “Applications can be ported onto the back screen and you can set up your applications so that as soon as there’s a tweet or a notification you are able to see it right away. You can actually type on the back screen which is something people don’t expect to see and is quite useful when you have a low battery,” said Abdul.
YotaPhone has partnered with Etisalat as network partner as well as the devices being distributed by Jumbo Electronics.
“Etisalat is a technology leader in the Middle East and they are always striving to introduce the greatest band the best and they have a reputation of being a first in introducing the new technologies. We look at Etisalat as a strategic partner and they see that there’s a future for YotaPhone and they wanted to be the first to introduce it in the Gulf region,” said Abdul.
Other YotaPhone features that stand out include:
• The Yota Always-On Display which substantially improves battery life, offering up to five days of e-book reading from a single charge. Ordinary Android phones also have power-saving modes, but YotaPhone 2 lasts up to three times longer based on usage that involves reading, messaging and calling. Reading on the Yota Always-On Display is up to 7x more power efficient than on the AMOLED HD screen.
• The Yota Always-On Display offers almost 180 degree viewing angles and excellent readability even in direct sunlight, making it easy to see and use any Android app while you’re outdoors.
• The Yota Always-On Display offers an “at-a-glance” view of what’s happening in your personal world, removing the need to constantly pick up, turn on and navigate to your emails, social networks or text messages. Just like a wristwatch, all you have to do is look and everything you need is available at first glance.
• YotaPhone 2 is lightweight at only 145 grams. It’s also slim (144 x 69.5 mm x 8.9 mm) and, with durable Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, it is far from fragile.
• YotaEnergy — This mode automatically switches all key functions, including calls and texts, to the Yota Always-On Display once battery life reaches 15%, providing another 8.5 hours of use.
• YotaMirror — You can use any Android application on the Yota Always-On Display. This includes everything from the most popular e-reading apps (such as Amazon Kindle) right through to messaging apps (like WhatsApp), music streaming apps (like Spotify) and any other activity that could benefit from superior battery life and readability.
YotaSnap and “Life after death” — Grab a crucial bit of information from the colour display — such as a map, meeting location, or the QR code from a travel ticket — and preserve it on your Yota Always-On Display. What’s more, you can hold this information on the screen even if your battery dies completely.
YotaCover — Make your Yota Always-On Display private with a single tap. YotaCovers are user-designed photos and notifications that bring beauty and personalisation to your device without giving anything away to onlookers.
All of this is accomplished on the “rear” side of the device — an area that has long been dismissed as useless space on ordinary smartphones.
At the same time, YotaPhone 2 offers a solid, reliable and familiar home for Android users — and indeed users of other smartphone platforms — thanks to its internal specifications. These include: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2 Ghz quad-core processor with 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC; An 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash (which can be used to take high-res “selfies” thanks to YotaMirror) and a front-facing 2MP camera and 4G/LTE, WiFi and Near Field Communications (NFC) connectivity.