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

Phones
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.

Up Next

Android 15: See New Features in Action
yt-android-15-clean-1

Up Next

Android 15: See New Features in Action

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Ultimate Good Lock Tips and Tricks
240509-yt-galaxy-s24-ultra-good-lock-app-v04

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Ultimate Good Lock Tips and Tricks

Google's Pixel 8A Is Here: What's New and Different
240506-yt-pixel-8a-first-look-v10

Google's Pixel 8A Is Here: What's New and Different

Living With Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: 3 Months Later
240424-yt-living-wiht-s24-ultra-v03

Living With Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: 3 Months Later

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones
240417-site-google-pixel-lab-exclusive-1

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission
240418-site-omt-the-core-problem-of-apples-green-goals-v1.jpg

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission

What's the Future of Phones? Expert vs. AI
240412-site-what-is-the-future-of-phones-expert-vs-ai-v1

What's the Future of Phones? Expert vs. AI

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch
iphone-15-pro-max-7-months-later

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used
240404-yt-xiaomi-14-ultra-camera-for-pro-v08

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal
240328-yt-omt-wwdc24-v07

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core.png

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city.png

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
top-5.png

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
the-daily-charge.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future.png

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today.png

Tech Today

Cooley On Cars
on-cars.png

Cooley On Cars

Carfection
carfection.png

Carfection

Latest News

Dreamfoam Essential Mattress Review: The Ultimate Mattress for RVs and Trailers?
The Dreamfoam Essential mattress against a colorful background with a man's hands pushing down on the side of the bed.

Dreamfoam Essential Mattress Review: The Ultimate Mattress for RVs and Trailers?

Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress Review: Should You Buy It?
The Saatva Latex Hybrid mattress sits on a bed frame while a man tests the edge of the mattress against a colorful background.

Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress Review: Should You Buy It?

Lull Original Premium Mattress Review: A Cut Above Lull's Original Bed
The Lull Original Premium mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background.

Lull Original Premium Mattress Review: A Cut Above Lull's Original Bed

Nolah Signature Mattress Review: Best Bed for Side Sleepers?
The Casper Wave mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background.

Nolah Signature Mattress Review: Best Bed for Side Sleepers?

Our Mattress Experts Unbox Bear's Brand With Scott Paladini
Three people in a room filled with mattresses against a colorful background

Our Mattress Experts Unbox Bear's Brand With Scott Paladini

Tempur-Pedic Adapt Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy
The Tempur-Pedic Adapt mattress against a colorful background with a man's hands pushing down on the side of the bed.

Tempur-Pedic Adapt Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy

Casper Snow Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy
The Casper Snow mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background with a man smiling in the front.

Casper Snow Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy

Casper Dream Hybrid Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy
The Casper Dream mattress with a man laying on top of the bed against a colorful background with a man smiling in the front.

Casper Dream Hybrid Mattress Review: Reasons to Buy or Not Buy

Viture Pro XR Review: A Great Upgrade to One of My Favorite Display Glasses
240610-yt-viture-glasses-v05

Viture Pro XR Review: A Great Upgrade to One of My Favorite Display Glasses

Helix Plus Mattress Receives the Helix Treatment: Helix Plus Mattress Review
The Helix Plus mattress placed on a wooden bed frame bed frame in front of a colorful background.

Helix Plus Mattress Receives the Helix Treatment: Helix Plus Mattress Review