LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: Yota Devices will this morning unveil the second generation of the YotaPhone, as the Russian company prepares for the next stage in the development of its innovative two-screen device.
Encouraged by the positive reaction to the first YotaPhone, which has been on sale since December 2013, Yota Devices CEO Vlad Martynov said YotaPhone 2 “is a big milestone for us. We are taking the always-on display to the next level.”
The fundamental philosophy of Yota Devices, which was spun out of Yota Scartel in 2012, is to provide an antidote to the smartphone ‘dark screen’ by providing a second screen on the back of the device that provides always-on access to important, real-time information without draining the battery.
The enhancements to the Android KitKat-based YotaPhone 2 include full-touch control on both displays, a slimmer device with larger screens (5-inch AMOLED on one side and 4.7-inch EPD on the other) and improved battery life. The new device will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year, and is likely to be sold at a similar price to the first YotaPhone.
The first generation of YotaPhone is already on sale in Russia and four other European countries at a retail price of around €500, with the total number of markets to be extended to 20 in the next two months. Sales in the first month or so reached around 12,000 units, which Martynov said was above his expectations.
“We expected around 10,000,” he said, adding that even 5,000 would have been enough to show that the demand was there. Around 80 per cent of the sales were in Russia.
Yota Devices is currently relying on retail channels such as Ingram Micro, and has no relationships with mobile operators as yet. “For us, it is too big a stretch to make a deal with operators,” said Martynov.
The device already has one very high-profile fan: “It’s a gorgeous idea…I definitely want one,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told the company ahead of the device’s launch in November.