While in attendance at MWC I had the chance to sit down with Yota Devices COO Lau Geckler for a nice discussion about the YotaPhone, the company’s latest device. You may remember that I covered it a while ago when Yota was at CES, but now having had the chance to use it and see it in person, it’s an even more awesome concept.
The main selling point is the e-ink display on the back, which allows you to transfer an image from the normal LCD on the front to it. Very useful in many situations, especially if you run out of battery, but we’ll get to that later.
The key concepts behind the phone, Geckler told me, was to create something very different from other Android phones but also to keep things simple, and have as few elements as possible. For example, while the vast majority of Android phones have three buttons at the bottom, the YotaPhone doesn’t. The only buttons on the phone are volume and power, and Geckler said that they would have liked to remove them as well, but that it was impossible.
Back to the e-ink screen. One swipe on the LCD allows you to transfer the content to the Kindle style display on the back, and you can do it with anything. Google Maps, an image, your Twitter feed. What’s great about e-ink though is that it consumes no power, and the image stays there even when the device is off. So if your battery dies, you would still be able to view whatever’s on the back.
Geckler also explained the use for a Twitter or Facebook feed. If you put the YotaPhone face down on the table, it allows to to casually glance at it. With the iPhone, you would have to unlock it, and open the Twitter app. However what makes the experience special is that the e-ink display is curved, which really makes scrolling feel more natural.
The Yota COO did confess however that as it was still a prototype, and that there were still some issues to be ironed out, for instance non-responsive touch bezels. However everything should be sorted before production in Singapore in August and release in around November.
The uniqueness extends beyond the hardware, though. A few cool apps built in, like Countdown. If you’re trying to quit smoking, cut out a certain food, or achieve another smilar goal, it will count the number of days you’ve gone so far. Of course, you can put this on the e-ink display, making it easy to brag at the dinner table.
Another neat feature is a revolution on the emoticon. If you receive a text on the YotaPhone with a certain tagline, for example ‘I’m pregnant’, it will show up as a picture of a woman giving birth. There are currently 200 taglines built in to the phone, however users will also be able to create their own. It’s a great feature, and really improves the texting experience. As Geckler put it, just text is boring.
I can’t wait for the YotaPhone to hit the market, as it definitely has a lot of potential for both developers and users. Stay tuned for a potential test on MacTrast before it comes out.