LCD on the front EInk on the back Handson the dualscreen Yotaphone

first_imgWhen someone says “smartphone” but doesn’t mention a specific model, it’s pretty easy to come up with a mental image. While there are subtle differences between them, most smartphones right now are flat slabs of black plastic and glass. Yota has opted to try and offer a unique perspective on how a smartphone should work with their YotaPhone prototypes.Having been in development for almost a year now, and soon entering the final stages before mass production, the YotaPhone was built by mobile industry veterans who have spent most of their time on the other side of the fence. Yota has been producing mobile radios for broadcast over the last few years, including many WiMax receivers. In the past, Yota has worked with HTC in including their technologies in consumer products, but have now stepped out into their own smartphone. In an attempt to make sure the phone stands out, however, the company has seen fit to equip the phone with both a LCD display and an E-Ink display on the back.Yotaphone’s slightly curved plastic frame sports Gorilla Glass on both sides. On the front of the phone you have an average quality LCD display, while on the back you have the E-Ink display. This black and white display is designed to serve many purposes. The first is to act as a notification tray for when your phone screen is off. When a notification arrives, the display updates with the notification and it sits in plain view while consuming very little power. APIs are available for developers interested in pushing their own content to the display, as well as a few features that Yota has made themselves.The phone has special gestures that allow you to effectively send a screenshot of the color display any time you need. If you’re a more creative type, you can send whatever image you choose as the wallpaper on your E-Ink display when it is not in use.The phone includes a few other curious design choices. The Android navigation panel, for example, have been replaced by a touch sensitive area off the screen for gestures. Instead of pushing the home button, you swipe from right to left and the phone goes home. To use the app switching feature you just hold your finger in the middle of this area and the function will become active. The same gesture are exists on the back of the phone as well, and it is used for some basic controls over what is displayed on the back of the phone. If you want to switch to the last image, for example, you use the same swipe gesture on the back of the phone from left to right and the screen will update and move to the next screen on the list.The SIM slot and camera are interesting as well. Yota has combined the power button and the SIM tray slot into a single area. If you want to wake the phone, you just press in on the SIM tray and it will wake the phone. When you need to remove your SIM, the pinhole button will eject the tray and make the power button unusable until you replace the tray. Even with the tray in, the power button is flush with the phone which makes it hard to press unless you are staring right at the button.The camera on the Yotaphone is actually at the bottom of the screen, instead of the top. When asked about this design decision, Yotaphone CEO Vlad Martynov explained that most users rotate their phones landscape to take photos, and the placement didn’t affect users who shot photos this way.None of the specs that make up the current Yotaphone prototype are expected to be relevant in the final build of the product. The prototypes that were used in this hands-on were early reference models, designed to show off the E-Ink display and the form factor. Mr. Martynov explained that the production versions of the phone will have a processor that was on par with current generation hardware, but wouldn’t commit to official specs.As a concept, the E-Ink display on the Yotaphone is well done. As a low power alternative to the notification tray, it is an exciting idea. Having gesture areas in the same place on the phone as well as the camera placement means you have to be careful about how you hold the phone and whether or not you’ve got fingerprints all over your camera. If you look past the gesture areas, Yotaphone is an Android 4.1 phone with a clever twist, but the final specs and pricing have a lot to do with whether or not the phone makes it off the shelf.Read more about the YotaphonePhotography by Chris Sewelllast_img

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