Yota, a Russian company best known for its router and modem hardware, has announced plans to produce an Android smartphone with two screens, one a standard 720 x 1280 LCD and the second an E-Ink display providing users with constant access to social network notifications and other important information. The dual-screen YotaPhone would be the company's first mobile phone with both displays on the 4G Android device measuring 4.3 inches (10.9 cm) and featuring Gorilla Glass.
The company plans to sell the YotaPhone at the premium end of the smartphone market, placing it in direct competition with heavyweight devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple's iPhone 5. The device will be equipped with a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 2 GB RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 720p front-facing shooter. Size-wise, the body is less than 10 mm (0.39 inches) thick and weighs 140 grams.
The E-Ink screen only uses power when refreshing its display, meaning that its impact on the phone's battery life will be minimal. Vlad Martynov, Yota's chief executive, commenting on our dependence on social media, told the BBC that “The smartphone is now a window onto this virtual life, but today there's a lot of disappointment when you miss information ... Our electronic paper display with our applications will remove this irritation.” He went on to suggest that in addition to displaying app alerts, the E-Ink screen may also be used to display information such as maps or boarding passes.
Yota isn't the only company that thinks there's a gap in the market for a second, low-powered screen on our smartphones. Indiegogo project popSlate aims to provide iPhone 5 users with similar functionality to Yota's device. Rather than a built in second-display, the popSlate's E-Ink offering comes in the form of a rugged case connected to the iPhone 5's lightning connector.
Yota is currently working on five or six apps that will be bundled with the device that will let users take advantage of the E-Ink screen. The handset is set to debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, with the company aiming for a Q3 2013 launch in Russia. If all goes to plan, users in Europe and North America should see the handset before the end of 2013.