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e-ink YotaPhone hits Europe, but no US launch planned yet

Yota's new smartphone packs a standard LCD and an e-ink screen that's easier on the eyes.

The YotaPhone -- the quirky Android mobile that has an LCD screen on the front and an e-ink panel on the back -- is out in Europe this month. An e-ink screen, typically used on e-reader devices, is designed to be easier on the eyes and use less power than a regular LCD screen.

The phone debuts this month in Germany, Austria, France, and Spain for 499 euros. Yota says the phone is coming to the UK in January and the Middle East early next year.

There are no current plans to sell the YotaPhone in the US, but Yota told CNET that future versions of the phone might make it to the States. Yota spoke of its latest smartphone while hosting a news conference in Moscow, Russia.

"Smartphones will never be the same"

The smartphone world is incredibly competitive, and a tough place for new kinds of devices.

"We took a huge risk, and we did it," Yota said of its ambition to build the YotaPhone. "We strongly believe smartphones will never be the same."

During a Q&A, Yota said the phone allows for 50 hours of reading time using the e-ink screen. The company also said the battery life is similar to other smartphones if you are using the LCD screen. There are no plans to make a cheaper model of the YotaPhone without LTE, Yota said.

We've gone hands-on with the YotaPhone already, and while we were playing with a prerelease model with non-final software, we weren't too impressed with the clarity of the e-ink screen, and a distinct lack of third-party apps means there's not much you can do with that monochrome extra panel just yet.

The YotaPhone plays host to a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, while around the back there's a 13MP camera.

Are you tempted by the YotaPhone? Let me know in the comments.

Now playing: Watch this: Wild YotaPhone marries e-ink with Android