YotaPhone 2 review: Choose a side

It may look like the YotaPhone 2 has lost the element of surprise but the sequel is actually trying to please the users the original wowed – and get a bigger crowd interested. The first generation was unexpected and fascinating but high price and low awareness didn’t help it get its message across.

Number 2 isn’t going to be a bestseller either, not in its wildest dreams, but it does well to fix a lot of things that didn’t quite work the first time around. Yota Devices announced the YotaPhone 2 almost a full year ago for it to only recently become available. And, of course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to review one of the most intriguing gadgets in the market.

On a first glance, the YotaPhone 2 looks just like a regular Android flagship – even a bit old-fashioned, as in curvy and not too slim. The specs mean business though: a gorgeous FullHD AMOLED display, 32GB of storage, LTE, a solidly-built body and buttery-smooth experience courtesy of a Snapdragon 800 chip.

However, your perception of it will change completely once you turn it around. The unique feature is the always-on e-Ink display mounted on the back, safe under a layer of curved Gorilla Glass 3.

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YotaPhone 2 official pictures

Think of all the possibilities that the battery-efficient screen opens – a power-frugal, pocket-sized e-reader for those sunny days on the beach or those long commutes; instant access to your smartphone’s most important features – notifications, the time, calls, messages and email, the web and your favorite contacts, and even games. An ever changing battery cover style for your phone too, if you will.

There is a lot to discover about the new YotaPhone 2 but before we proceed to the key features, we must say we really like the YotaPhone 2 concept. It managed to get us excited as few devices have – let’s hope it’s not just in it for the points for trying.

Key features

  • 5.0″ 16M-color 1080p AMOLED touchscreen, 442ppi
  • Always-on 4.7″ 16-level grayscale e-Ink display (540 x 960 px, 235ppi)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on both screens
  • Android OS v4.4.3 KitKat with Yota Apps
  • Quad-core Krait 400 CPU at 2.3GHz, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU; Snapdragon 801 chipset
  • 8MP autofocus camera, LED flash; HDR, panorama; 1080p@30fps video capturing
  • 32GB of built-in storage (25GB user-accessible)
  • Cat. 4 LTE (150/50Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.0; NFC; GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou; FM radio; microUSB (SlimPort)
  • 2,500mAh battery
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic

Main disadvantages

  • No high-end video recording (either 4K @ 30fps or FullHD @ 60fps)
  • No microSD card slot or higher storage capacity option available
  • Always resting on a screen regardless how you put it down and double the chance of breaking a screen if you drop it

The YotaPhone 2 wasn’t meant to compete with the current crop of flagships in terms of productivity and value-added features. On a second thought though, the extra screen has more added value than most.

Anyway, it was obviously built with smooth performance in mind. The lack of 4K video recording or a microSD card slot are not that much of a problem and surely won’t be tough to swallow having in mind the YotaPhone 2’s unique skill and character.

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YotaPhone 2 live pictures

Without further ado we proceed with our traditional hardware checkup. The premium retail box gets opened right after the jump.

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