YotaPhone 2 review: An e-ink screen on the back of a phone: Audacious but expensive

It is not easy to make your phone stand in a crowded world of similar products. You can trample a laser into the camera, try to round the display from the edge such as melting the phone, or, in the case of the YotaPhone, slap the other display on the back.

First YotaPhone Was definitely novel, and its e-ink second performance showed promise. Its poor quality and lack of compatible software meant it was never really flashing. Not ready to throw in the towel, the Russian handset maker is back with a second-generation YotaPhone – YotaPhone 2, would you believe? – And it has seen a whole bunch of changes.

It was a complete design overhaul, with better quality front and rear displays, a more powerful processor and better use of the e-ink screen. It is available for preorder in the UK and the rest of Europe directly from the company’s website. Launches in the US and Australia are on the cards, but no official date has been confirmed.

It costs £ 550, SIM-free and unlocked, which converts directly to $ 860 or AU $ 1,025. This smartphone puts it squarely in Elite’s price range – blockbuster phones like the iPhone 6, Samsung galaxy s5 , Sony Xperia Z3 and LG G3. Fighting against these people is quite difficult for established names, let alone for an unknown Russian brand. Its rear screen certainly makes it unique in the smartphone world – which makes no sense – but is it enough to justify its high price?

Two screens

The whole point of existence of the YotaPhone 2 is the second display on the back. It uses e-ink technology, which is not backlit like typical LCDs and only uses power when it refreshes on the screen. Therefore it is incredibly power efficient. You’ll find e-ink screens on Amazon’s Kindle, whose batteries can last up to a month on a single charge.

On YotaPhone, the idea is to use the LCD for tasks such as web browsing, texting, gaming or video viewing, and the e-ink side for reading e-books or other long pieces of text. Not using the LCD for long periods of time will save power and, e-ink screens don’t use the backlight, it should be easy on your eyes as well. At least, this is the theory.

Yotaphone 2 review an e ink screen on the back of

Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

The YotaPhone 2’s e-ink display has been improved both by the quality of its predecessor display and what it can do. It has a 960×540-pixel resolution, above the average 640×360 pixels of the predecessor, which helps make text faster and more easily readable. However this is still the problem.

Its biggest problem is from “ghosts”. When the display is refreshed, a fade mark of the previous screen is left behind on it. Although YotaPhone stated that this is a bug in the software and will be fixed, it was also a problem on earlier models, so my expectations for a major improvement here are not high. I will update this review if the update comes right.

The rear screen has three main modes: YotaCover, which acts as a lock screen, which displays images from your gallery; An Android-like set of four homesigns with widgets for the weather, favorite contacts, and app icons; And a mode where it simply shows the same Android interface that you see on the LCD.

Rear screen programming is almost entirely done using the Yota Manager app, which can be very difficult to use. This sometimes requires a lot of tapping at random, trying to find the small settings icon to select only the app icons or contacts you want to display. I also found that even after setting up my Twitter account, it still would not display any recent tweets on the Twitter widget that I liked to see.

The e-ink screen is fully touch-able (unlike its predecessor) so you can swipe around Android as you normally would. It is much less sensitive than the LCD screen and is much less sharp, so it’s not good for quick texting or emailing, but it does bring more functionality to the rear display than its predecessor. The biggest drawback is that you can use apps such as Kindle, Kobo or Google Books, giving access to a wider selection of available literature than just using Yota’s e-book service.

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Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

By pressing and holding the home button on the LCD side you can immediately take a screenshot of whatever is on the screen and display it on the back panel. It will sit until you replace it – even if the phone’s battery is completely dead. If you are in an unfamiliar pub with 2 percent battery and you need to save the instructions, you can take a shot of Google Maps and put it behind for reference. work.

Just being able to use Android immediately, the YotaPhone 2’s e-ink screen is quite useful compared to its predecessor, but it still has plenty of room for improvement – especially with ghost issues, optimizing widgets Easy, and to improve the look. Android mode, which is still far from crystal clear.

Probably the biggest hurdle though is to learn to use it and find out which of your current day-to-day activities can be on the rear display – thereby using less battery power. In this sense, there is a learning curve and it is likely that you will not see immediate benefit in using the back screen unless you are specifically looking to read an e-book on a small phone instead of a dedicated e-book reader. Do not be anxious. .

Main performance

It’s not all about the e-screen, though – there’s a regular LCD display on the front. It is a 5-inch case with full HD (1,920×1,080-pixel) resolution. It gives a pixel density of 440ppi, which is enough to make the display extremely crisp. Symbols and text are displayed clearly and high definition images have a lot of clarity.

It is also bright and has strong colors. The black color level is good and dark, which results in great contrast. It is an impressive screen overall, good at showcasing the basics of Twitter and Facebook as it showcases a shiny Netflix show and your photography collection.

The design

The YotaPhone 2 underwent a significant design overhaul from its predecessor. It looks and feels quite sophisticated. The square, boxy design is gone, replaced with a more attractive oval shape. Instead of sliding the phone in half, the back panel is gently curved, making it very comfortable to hold.

It’s still unclear, but I think that works in YotaPhone’s favor – it hasn’t tried to clutter both sides with pointless additions like chrome edging or fancy metal-effect grills. Instead, it seems very functional. The front glass panel is unbreakable except for the speaker. It is also completely flat and runs right along the edge of the body, which I like. At 145 mm long and 69 mm wide, it is not so large as to be cumbersome to use and at 145 grams (5.1 ounces), it is not too heavy.

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