The Yotaphone was the first commercially viable Android driven smartphone that had two screens, color and e Ink. The company has been making waves in the technology industry due to the innovative design and emphasis on mobile reading. Yota has only been selling the device in their home country of Russia and just expanded into Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, UK and some Scandinavian countries. In order to facilitate growth, Rostec, the Russian state-backed technology investment group, has invested in Yota for a 25%
According to the Financial Times “Mr Martynov confirmed that Rostec had exercised an option to acquire a quarter of the company, which he said was a legacy of Rostec’s participation in the restructuring of Russian internet services provider Scartel, the former owner of Yota.
The YotaPhone has a 4.3 inch screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels on the front and a 640 x 360 display on the e-ink panel. Text can be fuzzy very hard to read, there is hardly any options to augment the text size. Underneath the hood is a dual core chip rated at 1.7 GHz does a good job at keeping up performance. Honestly, the entire control scheme of the phone is the worst I have ever seen. There are no physical buttons, and instead you have to gesture on the bezel upwards or double tap in an indeterminate area to access the e-ink screen. In some cases, you have to swipe left or right to turn pages while reading a book. Some books require you have to turn pages using the volume keys, so there is no consistency in the eBook reading experience.
Vlad Martynov, chief executive of YotaPhone said the goal of the first generation device is just to build awareness. The company’s priority is developing a more solid second generation model that is due out at the end of the year. The prototype was shown off at Mobile World Congress in Spain last month. One of the big selling points is the e Ink screen will be touchscreen and readers can interact with it via pinching and zooming.
The Yota is an interesting phone, as a novelty item. Customers would be better served waiting for the second generation mode, instead of spending £419, since the costs to produce the phone were higher than average, given the extra materials needed.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.