The YotaPhone 2 is a Russian smartphone that has this one really weird thing—it’s called an e-ink reader. The YotaPhone 2’s rear e-ink reader is basically a unique display, that lets you read e-books for long periods without draining much battery – a feature no other phone has. The first YotaPhone was certainly novel, and its second showed promise.
It had a complete design overhaul, with better quality displays front and back, a more powerful processor and it makes better use of the e-ink screen. The YotaPhone 2 won’t be to everyone’s taste, and you’ll need to spend some time picking your preferences and getting used to the rear display, but if you can force the habit, then the device offers genuinely useful functionality. The entire point of the YotaPhone 2’s existence is the second display on the back. It uses e-ink technology, which isn’t backlit like typical LCDs and only uses power when it refreshes what’s on screen. It’s therefore incredibly power efficient. You’ll find e-ink screens on Amazon’s Kindles, whose batteries can last up to a month on a single charge.
If your top priorities when seeking out a new smartphone are camera performance, fast responsiveness, and an amazing display, you should look elsewhere. By the usual, extraordinarily high standards for smartphone quality, the YotaPhone 2 is underwhelming and unimpressive.
Unlike many others, this device feels like it has a crystal clear purpose and reason for being. And that reason is a joyous one: it almost feels like cheating to be able to enjoy an ebook on an e-reader and then just flip it around and find yourself inside the familiar confines of an Android smartphone.