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Yotaphone review

An Android smartphone featuring an always-on e-ink display
Thu Mar 27 2014, 09:05

Product Yotaphone
Specifications 4.3in 1280x720 LCD capacitive multitouch display, 4.3in 360x640 EPD 16 grayscale back screen with capacitive touch zone for gesture controls, dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC internal storage, 13MP rear facing camera with LED flash, 1MP front facing camera, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS, 4G LTE, 1,800mAh battery, Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 mobile operating system, 133x67x10mm, 146g
Price £420

YOTA DEVICES launched its Yotaphone handset at Mobile World Congress in February, the first smartphone to arrive in Blighty featuring an always-on e-ink display on its rear. The secondary screen remains on constantly, but Yota Devices claims that it uses power only when it refreshes, so the handset will outlast the average smartphone battery.

It's priced at £420, however some might argue that although the Yotaphone is unique in design, it isn't special enough to warrant its rather premium price.

Yotaphone by Yota Devices review - Bezel

Design and build
The Yotaphone measures 133x67x10mm and weighs 146g. It's different than the average smartphone in that it is the first we've seen to feature an e-ink screen on the back for viewing notifications and reading ebooks in direct sunlight. However, we can't say that its unique design is ergonomically sound.

This is because Yota Devices has built the Yotaphone in a way that it tapers out at the bottom to a thickness of just under 10mm, where it feels a little too thick for a smartphone, making it clumsy and almost difficult to hold comfortably. For example, trying to stretch your thumb over to the left of the far screen when the phone is in your right hand won't feel effortless as on other thinner devices, such as the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

Yotaphone by Yota Devices review - side view

Its thickness aside, the Yotaphone does feel rather sturdy, which is probably due to the device being made from one block of plastic, making it more durable against knocks. Its overall feel is plastic, though, so doesn't have the premium feel we'd expect in devices at this price. It's similar in weight to a similarly priced iPhone 5C, at 146g.

From the front, the Yotaphone isn't anything special, with the fairly standard boxy shape of most Android smartphones.

Yotaphone by Yota Devices review - front

The major downside to the design is the Yotaphone's power switch, which is not as prominent as we'd like. It sits a little too flush with the casing, thus making it less than easy to switch on from screen lock mode.

Next: Display, performance and software.


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