While CES didn’t show us a huge amount in the way of new hardware this year, we have seen some fantastic developments in the smartphone world already. The YotaPhone, by Russian mobile company Yota, is possibly one of the biggest and most significant mobile developments in a long time, introducing an incredibly innovative new feature which, if it takes off, could soon become standard in all smartphone builds.
The reason we’re so confident is because the YotaPhone boasts not just one 4.3-inch screen, but two: a standard LCD touchscreen on the front, and an e-ink reader on the back. While for most phones the screen is the primary source of battery drain throughout the day, the e-reader uses no battery at all unless it is being refreshed, meaning that you can check the time, see your notifications or even just display a favourite picture as part of your phone’s aesthetic. It’s ideal for reading text messages and news articles online, allowing you to browse through large pieces of text without utilising the touchscreen – indeed, an e-ink reader is generally considered to be a preferable means of reading. It solves the big problem of fast smartphone battery depletion, avoiding the need to turn the display on and off every time the user needs to check something. Elegantly designed, this single feature could easily become the norm in a matter of months if Yota pulls it off well.
The phone’s other features are also pretty impressive. Yota has replaced the classic buttons at the bottom of the main screen with a gesture-based navigation system – so for example, you would swipe across the bottom of the phone for the home page, or halfway across to go back a page. The software is still in its development stages, but the hardware itself looks good; a striking gorilla glass cover over the e-reader sharpens the otherwise slightly blocky build.
Yota’s only risk is that as a first-generation phone with this kind of technology, it’s unlikely to make an impact – but the concept undoubtedly will catch on. Due out in Q4, it’s already making headlines – keep an eye out for it this winter.