YotaPhone: The dual-screen Jelly Bean smartphone, in pictures
All smartphone manufacturers want their handsets to stand out - but few have done anything as dramatic as putting an e-ink screen — the sort of think you'd see on a e-reader — on the back of the phone.
But Russian handset maker Yota Devices — spun out last year from Yota (known for its LTE prowess), has done just that.
Lau Geckler, chief operating officer of the newly-formed company, hopes that the launch of this very different smartphone could help make Yota and Yota Devices brands to watch outside of its traditional markets.
The handset I saw at Mobile World Congress is certainly different, and the company is still experimenting with ideas and refining the final design.
For example, I couldn't help but notice that the camera is at the bottom corner on the rear of the phone, unlike other phones.
"We're right now testing with focus groups, getting good results using the camera upside down. We can put it up the other way in the final product if we want," Geckler said
"This prototype is a little bit of playing, the magnetic plate (used for charging) will be moved, we also have an integrated power and SIM slot, which is a new thing. Our dream is to make a phone without any holes or any buttons."
On the rear of the phone is a the e-ink display, which can be used to display any content that you'd normally see on the front of the phone. It actually has a lot of uses, from missed call notifications to live social network updates.
To 'send' content from the front screen to the back, you swipe two fingers vertically down each edge of the front display, but why have the second screen at all?
"It saves a lot of battery and gives effortless notifications. We all know the feeling of being in a meeting and needing to check an SMS and doing it under the table. Or to check Twitter; the phone is just lying on the table," Geckler explained.
While it sounds like that might defeat part of the battery-saving justification that underpins the e-ink display being there at all, you can also control how long you want the radios switched on for; so if you only want live data for mapping or social network updates for 10 minutes, you can set it for just that.
Yota Devices hasn't skimped on the specs in order to fit in the rear display, the phone uses a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon Krait processor, currently running the Jelly Bean (4.2) version of Android and, of course, dual 4.3-inch displays. It also uses a combined SIM/power button, not found on any other phone (pictured).
It'll also play happily with 4G networks — which is no surprise given the company's heritage — arrive with 2GB of RAM and can be specified with either 32GB or 64GB of storage. There's also a 12-megpixel camera on the rear, and an HD quality front-facing snapper, too.
So it has some of the specs to get it in the game, and it's certainly different from every other handset out there, but will it go the way of so many other interesting conceptual prototypes and vanish into the ether? Not so, says Geckler.
"It'll be ready in Q4 for shipment. We're in negotiations with all the big operators in Europe, North America and Russia. We're in quite a comfortable situation because it's about whether we want to accept exclusivity in certain markets or not. Pricing will be up to the operator, but it'll be premium Android."