Russian Yota Announces Its First Branded Dual-screen Smartphone

Yota Devices, a newly formed arm of the Russian WiMax operator Scartell, providing Internet services under the brand Yota since 2008 in Russia and a number of other developing countries, has unveiled a fully-working prototype of an innovative dual-screen smartphone.

Photo: new Yota dual-screen smartphone, from

The device, powered by Google’s Anroid OS, is to be officially presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2013. It is expected that the Yota smartphone will go on sale in Russia in the second quarter 2013 and in the U.S., U.K. and other international markets the following quarter.

Unique feature of the new device and, probably, its major selling point, is the capacity of double-sided screen. On the one side there is a standard LCD display, and an electronic-paper (so-called e-ink) one on the other, that offers a longer battery life by dividing different information on to two streams/displays. User can work with apps, texts and calles on the first display, while read news or books, set reminders etc. on the energy-saving black and white screen.

As Yota Devices CEO, Vladislav Martynov commented to Wall Street Journal, the project has been going for two years with 35 engineers on the team and $25 million investment at this stage. The retail price for the Yota Phone is expected to be about $500, slightly cheaper than iPhone 5, in the same price range with the latest smartphone models from Samsung, HTC and Sony.

Earlier this year, another Russian telecom carrier MTS, launched its own-label smartphone also powered by Android OS. However, the only advantage of the product is its affordable price (about $240) and a package with considerable discounts offered with the purchase of the device within the MTS customer loyalty system.

Considerations regarding the potential of the Yota smartphone, which is set to be launched on the international markets, too, differ.

«Having a second black and white screen is fun but rather useless. However, such fun stuff may generate good sales», commented the launch of the Yota phone to the President of Russian Evroset’ Aleksandr Malis.

«They have a novel idea but an unknown brand,» said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner Inc. in a comment to WSJ. «The phone market is a lot about brand and fashion».

The Yota branding and design were developed back in 2008 by a number of the best U.K. agencies, such as 300 Million (no longer operating), All of Us, Fray, Someone and Seymour Powell.