This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
First Look: The YotaPhone: An Android smartphone with an e-ink second display
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

First Look: The YotaPhone: An Android smartphone with an e-ink second display

3:05 /

The YotaPhone is an Android smartphone with an e-ink second display slapped on its back. Check out our video review to see what this bizarre concept is about.

Do you like the idea of having your phone constantly display notifications but don't want your battery life to drain away in hours? If so, the YotaPhone might be up your street. It's an Android smartphone with a regular 4.3-inch LCD on one side, and an E Ink second display on the other. Having two screens might seem like a bizarre concept. But it's not actually a bad idea. E Ink displays on backlit-like LCDs and don't constantly refresh, so they use only a tiny amount of power. Instead of having your battery-destroying LCD screen always showing notifications, you can instead see them appear on the rear E Ink display, which remains always on. The second screen is just not for notifications, either. You can view your Twitter and Facebook feeds, use it to display photos to personalize your phone, and use it as an eBook reader as you would with an Amazon Kindle. Certainly an interesting idea, but the YotaPhone is far from perfect. For one, the E Ink display is pretty poor-quality, making small text look fuzzy, and it has a nasty habit of showing a faint ghost of the previous image every time it refreshes. Crucially, though, there's very little software that's designed to work with the second screen. YotaPhone has access to its own eBook store, but it's well fully under start, and more popular services like Kindle or Kobo won't work properly on the E Ink screen. Your Facebook and Twitter feeds can be shown by YotaPhone's internet hub application. It shows a very basic feed, which you need to load up on the main screen before flipping around to the back, which is a rather clunky process. I also found the feeds wouldn't automatically update with new posts. There's a notes app that will show up on the back, which I found quite handy for keeping shopping list permanently on screen while strolling the food aisles. The rest of the phone isn't going to excite the serious tech fans among you. Its screen has an acceptable 1280x720 pixel resolution, has an underwhelming 1.7 gigaHertz dual core processor under the hood, and it's all wrapped up in a rather chunky, plain-looking body. There are no physical navigation keys on the front. Instead, you make your way around by performing a series of gestures on a touch panel beneath the screen. It's not an ideal solution as you, of course, need to actually remember what each gesture does. I also find the panel to be a bit unresponsive, forcing me to repeat the gesture more carefully on numerous occasions. On the back of the phone is a 30-megapixel camera. The YotaPhone's rear E Ink screen provides a handy way of being able to always see notifications or read eBooks without destroying your battery life. As a concept, I'm definitely sold. But the poor quality of the display, the lack of third-party support for second screen apps, and the underwhelming specs all around means this attempt just isn't up to scratch. If YotaPhone can use a better quality E Ink display and work much more closely with developers, this next-generation device might well be worth checking out. I'm Andrew Hoyle for CNET, and this is the YotaPhone.

New releases

Brainwave tech could help ALS patients...
2:32 August 30, 2014
Patients with Lou Gehrig's Disease can become paralyzed, and technology is now being developed that could...
Play video
ALS patient more independent with...
3:12 August 30, 2014
Eric Valor has been living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, for nearly a decade, but he says technology,...
Play video
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring...
22:01 August 29, 2014
25 years of Miata: Why it still works. How your commute is worse than just boring, read the secret information...
Play video
Google tests drone delivery, iPhone...
2:54 August 29, 2014
Look up in the sky for a special delivery from Google's Project Wing, keep waiting for that "iWatch," and...
Play video
Make your Chromebook more PC-l...
1:58 August 29, 2014
Do you wish your Chromebook could feel a little more like a regular PC? Here are some simple tips on how to...
Play video
Nvidia Shield Tablet: Best tablet...
2:49 August 29, 2014
The 8-inch Shield Tablet boasts Nvidia's latest powerful Tegra K1 processor and graphics, and plugs into a...
Play video
Indie Games of Summer
3:14 August 29, 2014
Five indie console games that you should check out right now.
Play video
The Lumo Lift is a fashionable...
1:34 August 29, 2014
Track your posture, step count, and calorie burn with this small magnetic fitness device.
Play video