The phone boasts two back-to-back displays and is now on sale for €499. Photo: AFP
The Russian-built smartphone that features screens on front and rear is now ready to buy in Russia, Germany, France, Spain and Austria.
The handset, which sports a 4.3-inch 720p display on one side and a 4.3-inch electronic ink monochrome always-on display (think the original Kindle or other first generation-eReaders) on its rear, was voted the hottest mobile device of the International CES back in January and while its Russian makers promised the handset would go into production in the second half of the year, Yota Devices had been very quiet since accepting the award.
However, the wait is now over and for a fixed price of €499, Russian and German consumers will be able to buy the innovative phone in person while French, Spanish and Austrian customers will be able to order one online.
The concept behind the device is very simple. Notifications, alerts and even wallpapers appear on the rear, black-and-white, low-energy screen so that the phone's primary display remains uncluttered, meaning that not a single pixel of screen real estate is wasted. Yota also hopes that in time, developers will create apps and features specifically designed to take advantage of the always-on display.
Despite having two displays, the device is also less than bulky and is roughly the same thickness as an iPhone 4S. However, because it has taken so long for the phone to go from showcase to reality, its specifications look rather tame compared with the majority of mid-weight and premium Android devices currently available.
This won't be helped by the fact that at €499 off contract, it is competing head to head with the Samsung Galaxy SIV, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z1, each of which boasts a 4.9-inch+ full HD display, a newer version of Android Jelly Bean (the YotaPhone will ship with version 4.2) and much beefier processors.
Nevertheless, the phone's novelty value might be enough for potential owners to look past the dual-core, 1.7GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and relatively small battery and its smaller, lower resolution front-facing display.
After its initial launch, the phone is expected to make its way to more European territories, including the UK, and to the Middle East in early 2014.