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Review of the Two Faced YotaPhone

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Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London (peabay.xyz) @peabay
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In terms of mobile phones we all seem to be over the naff and gimmicky. Phones with inbuilt Rubix cubes and pencil sharpeners are things of the past, replaced by the chic and minimalistic. This is why I tend to roll my eyes when I hear about oddball features stuck onto phones. But then I got my hands on a YotaPhone.

YotaPhone is a high-end Android phone with one difference. There are two screens, and one of them is e-ink.

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Form

With a smooth, curved rim the phone glides, akin to moving wet soap around in your hand. Being metal the cold rim gives a nice sense of solidity as if the whole device is a single part.

The width, depth and length is virtually the same as other Android phones in the same class, which is incredible given that there’s an extra screen on the back. The e-ink display sacrifices none of the design at all.

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Battery Life

As an experiment I fully charged the device and solely used the e-ink display throughout the day to see how long it would last. Despite taking photos, recording video, tweeting, reading books the device was able to last over 24 hours! That’s 18 more hours than the iPhone.

The YotaPhone’s battery saving mode will reportedly give you 2 whole days of battery too by disabling non-critical functions.

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The Screens

While not the main attraction the 5” AMOLED, 442ppi front screen is a beautiful. Colours are spot on and the resolution of 1920×1080 means exquisite high definition video playback.

The e-ink display is an amazing 235ppi, capable of displaying even video at suitable clarity. Of course there is a slight delay between screen transitions but as far as e-ink goes it’s very fast. I was able to use the display for a while day with zero frustrations.

The Experience

You can start using the e-ink display by flipping over the phone and unlocking. The device will know which side you intend to use so you don’t accidentally press buttons on the flip side.

The idle e-ink display will show a screensaver of your choice. You have options of things like feeds from Instagram, Facebook, books, and tiles of information.

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Being able to glance at your phone to check for notifications is invaluable, and comfort comes from knowing that minimal battery is being used to power the always-on screen.

Fully capable of all activities the only real reason to use the screen is to read. I’m a huge reader of Blinkist (if you haven’t heard of it you really should check it out). The app uses swipe gestures to turn pages, as opposed to a tap, and while a tap would have been nicer to use with the screen the device can handle swipes well enough.

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Reading in bed is a dream. The glare of phone screens messes with your mind and makes you more awake. E-ink displays have no such effect. I can report at least one excellent nights sleep after reading a book from the YotaPhone before sleep time.

Of course the problem comes when your girlfriend turns off the light to go to sleep – no backlight. But that’s nothing a torch can’t fix.

Should You Buy This Phone?

Absolutely. This is hands down the most useful phone I’ve ever used. It makes total sense in an age of crappy battery life and intense reading. The look of the device is spot on, the execution of the dual screens is perfect. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

But don’t take my word for it. Go check out their popup in Shoreditch.

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Posted 08th Feb 2015
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Comments

  • “the device was able to last over 24 hours”

    *sigh* I miss the days of my Nokia 8210. Kids these days won’t even realise that we used to have phones that lasted 2 weeks on one charge – and that’s with using ALL the features (voice, SMS, snake…).

  • Ezzy

    What was the “screen on” time in the battery test? “24 hours” doesn’t really say a whole lot when there’s no context.
    It’s funny how some reviewers don’t even use the e-ink display and just mention battery life as “average”. Why would they even bother to review the device and ignore its biggest “catch”?

    • Peter Bailey

      I didn’t have the phone long enough to test battery with the primary screen on, only the e-ink display. During my battery test the primary screen wasn’t used. The spec says it can last from 2 days to 5 days, which is believable.

  • Dev

    I like the product and the photos are certainly great as well. Most people tho, would like to see some detractors on the phone review, because they are shopping around and well, that’s want to compare other products to. Granted putting it into a niche, and then filling all the criteria that niche is about, would make it an all round winner in that category; but most consumers will be much more narrow visioned to know that’s been done here.

    • Peter Bailey

      True. I prefer not to go into intense detail and draw up comparison tables though purely because it’s not enjoyable. There are better sites for that. But I’m here if anyone has specific questions.