YotaPhone II: A Dual-Screened Smartphone Marvel

Ever looked at your smart device and thought, “shouldn’t there be a second screen?” Probably not, but the YotaPhone II, a new mobile phone with front and back screens, proves that dual screens was what was missing from smartphone technology all along.

The YotaPhone II, developed by the Russian manufacturer Yota, is the follow-up to a first generation prototype, and an innovative take on the future of smartphones. Set to be released in North America in August, this is definitely a unique product worth a gander or two.

According to the company’s IndieGogo page, the YotaPhone sports a 5” LCD color screen on one side, and a 4.7” EPD on the other, apparently for much longer battery life and better ease for the eyeballs. As well the e-ink display screen never shuts off, making any relevant information you desire a quick look away, rather than a bunch of swipes and fingerprints.

That second screen is definitely the highlight of the phone’s design. One problem with smartphones now is how fatigued eyes get after subjecting them to hours of miniature Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. While the e-ink isn’t as mesmerizingly pretty, it makes looking at emails, articles, e-books, and tweets easier and quicker. The EPD screen’s interface is customizable, which is definitely a classy touch, plus there’s an app on the e-ink side that allows for days and days of battery life.

And for those who need the powerful LCD display, pretty colors are just a flick of the wrist away. Native and partnered apps abound on both screens, including an ebook service, streaming music, and everyone’s favorite addictive social media platforms. The IndieGogo page alludes to Android being interested in developing apps for the product, especially with the technology used to integrate apps into the forever turned on EPD screen.

It’s easy to see the benefits of the YotaPhone II’s design. Having an e-ink screen that’s perpetually on means that there’s no time wasted fiddling to unlock the device, especially in a social setting. The EPD is a subtle shift in the right direction there. And having a mobile device that’s amazing for reading? That’s definitely a quality Apple and Android products tend to lack.

There are still problems with the phone, though. The phone currently doesn’t work with Sprint or Verizon, and that could impede its usefulness in North America. Also, there’s a whole lot of apps the product is missing, but the e-ink display integration could inspire developers to set aside flashy colors for a less eye-straining aesthetic. According to comments on the tech specs, the screens are fortified with Corning Gorilla glass 3, which means dropping the device once won’t mean bedlam, and there’s a bumper protector offered, but two screens does raise the amount of surface that could be scratched by a considerable amount.

I’d say that anyone looking to cut down on their smartphone use, while also having a product that can fulfill all the basic functions of a smart device, should give the YotaPhone II a whirl. It’s more aesthetically ergonomic than anything on the market, and is meant as a non-addictive technological addition to one’s life. And it has the potential to change the mobile game, however it may be a long way off from such a feat.

Personally, I’m a fan of the EPD screen, and could see myself hardly using the LCD side; the very idea makes me feel far more sane than my current status as an iPhone user. We’ll just have to wait and see which direction this product goes, and what kind of app integration occurs. Hopefully the idea gains traction – it has won a whole host of awards – but maybe there’s a reason Apple hasn’t masterminded the concept yet.

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