The YotaPhone With Rear-Facing E Ink Display Goes On Sale In Europe


YotaPhone, the world’s first smartphone with a rear-facing E Ink display, has gone on sale in Europe today with a price tag of €499. Other specifications include a 4.3-inch 720p front-facing display, a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, and 2GB of RAM.

Those specifications may seem a little disappointing, but that’s largely because the YotaPhone was first announced last December, so technically it’s already a year old. In fact, for a long time now we just assumed that the Russian company behind the handset had just decided to give up on it, but that wasn’t the case.

Now you can buy your own if you live in Europe and you have €499 to spare, though we’d suggest you don’t rush out just yet. Though the handset looks pretty cool and innovative, it has some major limitations that make its biggest selling point a big disappointment.

I’m talking, of course, about that E Ink display. It’s designed to allow you to use your smartphone to read books, catch up on your social feeds, and enjoy your pictures in direct sunlight. But like all E Ink displays, it’s black and white, and it doesn’t accept touch input, either, so you cannot control apps with it.

So how does it work? Well, it’s kind of long-winded, actually. You use your apps in the same way on the front-facing 4.3-inch display (providing you can see it okay in the sun) and then when you find something you want to read or look at without glare, you swipe down on the display with two fingers.

A screenshot is captured and sent to the second display on the back of the phone, so you can flip it over and view your content there without having to worry about reflections. But there’s another catch.


Only a handful of apps support this feature, including a task organizer, social feed and RSS reader, and a language learning tool. Yota Devices, the company behind the YotaPhone, says it’s going to allow developers to use its API so that they can add support for the E Ink display into their own apps, but I’m going to predict that no one will.

The YotaPhone is a nice idea — having a second E Ink display to view things in direct sunlight would come in handy, especially if you live in sunny climes. But unless it accepts touch input and allows you to control your apps, it seems kind of redundant to me.

What do you think? Would you buy the €499 YotaPhone?