'Russian iPhone' returns: Dual-screen YotaPhone 3 coming this year from $350

The next two-faced YotaPhone won't cost as much as its predecessor but may also may lack its high-end chip.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Launched in 2014, the YotaPhone 2 was well received but came with an off-putting price tag.

Image: YotaPhone

The third YotaPhone featuring an E Ink back should be available later this year from $350 for the entry-level 64GB model.

Russian-founded YotaPhone debuted in 2013 with a novel take on the smartphone that included a power-efficient E Ink display for notifications and reading e-books on the smartphone's back.

The concept was well-received despite poor execution in the first attempt. The YotaPhone 2 launched in 2014 with a better Snapdragon 801 processor but came with an off-putting $860 price tag.

Nearly four years later, the YotaPhone 3 will reportedly launch this year with a friendlier price. The 64GB model will cost $350, while the 128GB model will cost $450, according to reports from Russian media following this weekend's China-Russia tech expo in Harbin.

According to Vedomosti, the YotaPhone 3 will launch in China in September and at some point afterwards in Russia. It was originally slated to arrive in mid-2016, but was pushed back to 2017 to straighten out financial and technical concerns.

YotaPhone's Facebook page suggests the company is also struggling with customer support issues.

Once heralded by Russian prime minster Dmitry Medvedev as the "Russian iPhone", the YotaPhone is now a decidedly more Chinese affair, as the Financial Times detailed recently.

China's Baoli Technologies took a 30 percent stake in 2015, and development is now based in China rather than its former base in Finland and Russia. The new model is being developed by Chinese smartphone brand Coolpad.

Also, the company that announced the YotaPhone 3 at last week's expo is BaoliYota Technology, a joint venture between Baoli and Coolpad.

Russia's Telconet is still the largest shareholder with a 34.9 percent stake, while Russian state-owned corporation Rostec has 25.1 percent, with the remaining 10 percent held by MTH, Russian bureau TASS reports.

The lower price of the next YotaPhone may be explained by the system-on-chip of choice. Engadget reports that rather than a higher-end Snapdragon, the next YotaPhone will come with the mid-range Snapdragon 625.

The YotaPhone will also feature a 5.5-inch 1,080p AMOLED display, up from five inches in the predecessor, with a 5.2-inch E Ink display.

It has a fingerprint sensor on the front, 4GB RAM, dual SIM slots, a 12-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel front camera, a 3,200mAh battery and USB-C port but no 3.5 mm headphone jack.

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