Devices start-up Yota Devices launched its “highly anticipated Yotaphone 2” at a London event last night – a smartphone first unveiled at Mobile World Congress back in February – although perhaps the stand-out feature is its hefty price tag.
As with the original Yotaphone, the unique selling point is the dual-screen format, which sees a traditional 1080p AMOLED screen on the front mated with a low-power ‘always on’ display on the rear.
“We sincerely believe there is a much better way for consumers to interact with smartphones. We also believe that all devices in the future will feature an always-on display, because that will make technology and gadgets not just smart, but intelligent and smart, it will make them proactive,” Vlad Martynov, CEO, said at the launch event.
“Yotaphone 2 is just the first step in this vision, and it’s not just hardware or software, it’s a platform” he continued.
But with a price of £555/€699, it is on a par with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6. And with a number of high-performing but lower cost devices coming to market from a range of vendors, the company is aiming to carve out a niche at the high end of a shifting market.
“Yotaphone 2 brings a unique and so-far unseen value to users,” Jens-Uwe Theumer, MD and VP EMEA for the company, told Mobile World Live.
In order to communicate the unique features of the device, “we are talking to the press, and we are also building a team that is able to bring these values to the market. We will have also marketing campaigns running in each of the markets that we operate in,” he said.
In order to deliver the device to customers, Yota has a “multi-channel” strategy, which also includes “alternative channels”.
“As you can imagine, reading on this device is very easy, so therefore there are channels out there that might be very interested in a device like this,” Theumer said.
But as yet the company has not picked up operator support, a channel which would also bring the opportunity to use subsidies to lower the price of the device somewhat.
“At the moment we are talking to all of the operators, but this is quite a long process, to not only break the ice but get the approvals, technical acceptance and so forth. We cannot reveal any names right not, but we are talking to all of them,” the executive noted.
According to Financial Times, Yota Devices is in talks to raise $100 million to support the rollout of the new product, noting that the company is supported by “a number of wealthy Russian investors”. While the company can apparently support the launch without the extra cash, the funds would enable it to bring forward its timetable.
Yota touted features of the always-on display including dramatically improved battery life, particularly for usage that involves reading, messaging and calling; “almost 180 degree” viewing angles and improved readability in direct sunlight; and an “at a glance” view of information such as emails, social networks and text messages.
Other features include YotaMirror, which enables any Android app to run on the always-on display; and YotaSnap and ‘Life after Death’, which allows content to be preserved on the screen even if the battery dies completely.
It is powered by a 2.2GHz quadcore Qualcomm processor, with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It has 8MP main and 2MP front cameras, and LTE connectivity.
Yotaphone 2 will initially be available in EMEA markets, with Hong Kong added by the end of December, other Asian markets added in Q1 2015, and the Americas added “soon after”.