YotaPhone 2, the latest dual AMOLED and e-ink display smartphone from Russia’s Yota Devices, has launched in 20 Middle Eastern markets, months after the debut of its predecessor in the region.
The device, which Russian president Vladimir Putin famously gifted to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, is designed to appeal to the mass market, following the original ‘proof of concept’ YotaPhone.
Utilising a 1080p 5-inch front display, LTE functionality, 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and 8MP camera, YotaPhone 2 boasts specs that compare to other smartphones launched this year but with the same key differentiator in the power efficient rear e-ink display, which is now touch sensitive and claimed to last up to five days of e-book reading on a single charge.
New functions for the rear display include YotaMirror, allowing the Android OS on the front screen to be accessed on the back, and YotaEnergy, which switches usage to the rear display once battery reaches 15 per cent.
YotaSnap, which allows the user to save a map, image, or travel ticket on the rear display even when out of battery, makes a return and the company has introduced an always on dash board for basic tasks, including email, calls, weather and SMS.
Dedicated apps from several developers including Al Jazeera, AccuWeather, XE and Eurosport, are also available for the rear display.
Yota Device CEO Vlad Martynov told Gulf Business he expected YotaPhone 2 to appeal to the “mass market” particularly those who travel a lot and consume large amount of text data like news and emails. Although at the Dhs2,999 price point, higher than some versions of Apple’s latest device the iPhone 6, he admitted it was targeting the high-end.
The CEO declined to give any sales projections for the device or to say how the original YotaPhone had performed since launching in the Middle East in May, with a target of selling 10,000 units.
“We are bringing a new type of device to new market we don’t have a history of running in this region, it’s a little early to disclose the sale targets,” he said.
When asked where Yota Devices will go from here, Martynov said the company will stick with the two screen concept.
“We think there is a lot we can innovate with an always-on-display, there are a lot of applications and user cases that we can come up with. We’ll stay with this concept and we’ll bring this concept to the next level.”
Today’s launch coincided with the opening of Yota Device’s Middle East office in Dubai, with former Samsung Electronics and Blackberry executive Abdul Karim Sawan appointed the company’s VP for Middle East and Africa.