Introduction

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.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

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.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2 live pictures

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

Retail package

YotaPhone 2 is packed within a premium paper box, which unfolds rather oddly, spreading the entire retail package contents before you.

All components, even the SIM ejection pen, are packed with great attention to detail, just like we'd expect from a premium product.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Unboxing the YotaPhone 2

The micro USB cable and the single-piece headset use tangle-free wires, which is still rare to see with the competition. There are also lots of complimentary earbuds - Yota made sure there is a pair to suite everyone's ears and then some.

YotaPhone 2 360-degree view

Some might say the YotaPhone 2 looks a lot like the Nexus 5 as it uses similar material and has a similar understated looks.

The YotaPhone 2 spreads at 145 x 69.4 x 9mm, which is 6mm taller than the unbelievably compact Nexus 5, but the width and thickness of the two are identical. The YotaPhone 2 weighs 145g, which is 15g heavier than LG-made Nexus 5.

Design and build quality

YotaPhone 2 isn't the traditional smartphone we are used to seeing. Sure, it looks like a generic _phone_ at the front, but the back is an entirely different story.

The YotaPhone 2 is built around a matte plastic frame, looking just like the Nexus 5's, while the two displays are protected by respective layers of Gorilla Glass 3.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Gorilla Glass 3 is in charge of protection of both displays

The rear Gorilla Glass 3 shield is curved at the corners. It isn't as transparent as the front glass and has a smoked look to it. It's also matte and even slightly rough to the touch as opposed to the smooth glass surface of the front. In other words, it doesn't feel as glass to the touch. The smoked-like surface may sacrifice some of the screen's contrast, but it looks great and fits the design quite well.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The curved back

The good news is there isn't a single glossy element on the YotaPhone 2 and the gadget isn't prone to fingerprints and smudges at all. It's a sleek and elegant phone, and its matte back boosts both the aesthetics and the overall grip.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Handling the YotaPhone 2

Handling the YotaPhone 2 is a real pleasure, courtesy of the mostly matte material used on both the frame and over the rear display. We find the minor toll taken on the e-paper display's contrast rather acceptable, because otherwise we'd probably have gotten an all glossy and slippery phone - an awful combination.

Controls

The front of the YotaPhone 2 is mostly occupied by the beautiful 5" AMOLED screen. The earpiece is centered on top of the screen, flanked by a coupled of sensors and the front 2.1MP snapper.

There aren't any controls below the screen, Android OS provides virtual ones instead.

YotaPhone 2

Above the 5" AMOLED screen

The left side of the YotaPhone 2 is completely bare, while the right one houses the volume rocker and the power/lock key. You may notice the small hole on the volume control - the entire thing is ejectable, as it doubles as a nano-SIM bed.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

There is nothing on the left • the volume rocker is your nano-SIM slot

The lonely 3.5mm audio jack is at the top of the YotaPhone 2, while the bottom has the microUSB port flanked by two identical grilles - one for the loudspeaker and one for the microphone.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

A peek at the top and bottom sides of the YotaPhone 2

Finally, the electronic paper display is the highlight feature at the back of the YotaPhone 2. Above we find the 8MP camera lens and the single-LED flash.

You can choose from dozens of widgets for the rear display, you can also set it to show a picture or pictures from your gallery. The display is always on and for the naked eye it looks like a factory print on a rear panel. If you turn off the phone (or your battery dies), the YotaPhone 2 name will continue to be displayed at the rear display, as once the image has been set, the e-Ink screen requires virtually no power to sustain it.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The rear e-ink display • the rear camera

Displays

The YotaPhone 2 has a 5.0" AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution and 442ppi. There's Gorilla Glass 3 protection on top, to keep scratches away and provide extra impact resistance.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The front and rear displays of the YotaPhone 2

AMOLED panels have the advantage to be slimmer, with more vibrant colors and far superior contrast compared to LCDs due to the naturally deep blacks. Under certain usage scenarios those screens even consume less power than regular LCD units though they cannot quite match the maximum brightness that LCDs offer.

The display employs a Diamond PenTile matrix with RGBG subpixel arrangement. This delivers high perceivable sharpness compared to older gen AMOLEDs, which use the regular Pentile matrix.

YotaPhone 2

The color rendering is great, with punchy colors typical of AMOLED screens. There are no dedicated color presets like on the Galaxy flagships.

Obviously, AMOLED displays have inherently infinite contrast ratios, but we were able to measure the white brightness levels at 50% and 100% luminance. We found to be the panel notably less bright than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha, but on par with the Lumia 930's screen.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
YotaPhone 2 144 376
Samsung Galaxy S5 274 529
LG Nexus 5 0.31 298 948 0.54 526 967
Sony Xperia Z3 - - - 0.65 866 1333
Gionee Elife S5.5 178 330
Nokia Lumia 930 149 347
Oppo R5 238 417
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 228 456


Since it's an AMOLED display, the stellar contrast should hardly surprise. The sunlight legibility is excellent, helped by the low reflectivity of the screen's surface, and it's pretty much on par with the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

The rear electronic paper display is 4.7" in diagonal, with resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. It is also shielded by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, but this time around it's a curved glass. The glass isn't glossy, which is strange, instead it is matte for better handling and looks (no fingerprints here).

Unfortunately, the matte display takes away some of the contrast and sharpness of the display making the text looks somewhat washed out. You will notice this only if you put the YotaPhone 2 next to another dedicated e-paper device such as a Kobo or a Kindle. Experienced e-paper readers will notice this for sure.

Once you can setup the preferred text size, you can still enjoy hassle-free reading under bright sunlight. Your eyes won't get tired easily for sure.

There is no backlighting under the e-paper display, so you can't use it when it's dark without some extra light.

Finally, the rear display is a capacitive touchscreen, but if you have no experience with e-Ink screens, you will be amazed at the huge image refresh lag, which is typical for the technology.

Despite these drawbacks we remain fans of the YotaPhone 2 rear screen. It offers unique functionality - not only for reading articles and books, but also it can make your phone look different every day thanks to the countless images or patterns you can use as always-on wallpapers, reading eBooks on it is great, and it can extend your battery life a lot.

Battery life

The YotaPhone 2 features a 2,500mAh battery, which according to Yota should be enough for 26 hours of 3G calls or 92 hours of music playback. We put those claims to test and we found those rather accurate.

The YotaPhone 2 standby endurance isn't impressive at about 250 hours, but you can use the Yota Energy Saver to squeeze a lot more from your battery. We do our test without such enhancements though.

YotaPhone 2 indeed packed enough juice to support almost a day of 3G calls, but scored below average or average performance on the other tests, thus scoring an average final endurance rating of 57 hours. This means the YotaPhone 2 will last two days and then some if you do an hour of calls, an hour of video watching and an hour of web browsing each day.

YotaPhone 2

Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The YotaPhone 2 supports quad-band GSM and 3G networks with up to 42Mbps of download speed. It is also LTE-enabled with support for Cat.4 speeds (150Mbps download, 50Mbps upload).

The rest of the connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, plus NFC. Stereo FM radio with RDS support is onboard, too.

There is a microUSB 2.0 SlimPort for charging and data connections. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory via a USB connection. The microUSB 2.0 port can also be used in USB On-the-go mode for connecting USB peripherals such as pen drives, keyboards or real USB hard drives.The SlimPort offers Quick Charge 2.0 and MHL 3.0. With the right adapter, you get 1080p@30fps output.

The one thing we really miss is microSD card slot. You have 32GB internal storage. About 26GB of those are available for storage to the user.

YotaPhone 2 runs on Lollipop-skinned Android KitKat

YotaPhone 2 runs on Android 4.4.3 KitKat and its stock Google apps, including the Google Now launcher, come updated to their respective latest versions. The icons, the app drawer and the system apps look similarly to what we've already seen in Android Lollipop and some people might even think the OS is indeed Android 5.0. Yota has confirmed it will bring Lollipop update later this year, which, of course, is quite nice though hardly specific.

There goes our usual demo video to get you started.

The lockscreen is the usual Android affair - it supports widgets (one per pane), plus there is a shortcut to the camera at the bottom courtesy of Android KitKat. There are a few available default widgets, but you can always get more from the Play Store.

Naturally, you can protect your lockscreen by Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Android 4.4 lockscreen on YotaPhone 2

The Google Now launcher allows more than five homescreens and it looks just like on Android Lollipop. The leftmost pane is reserved for Google Now.

Naturally widgets, shortcuts and folders are available. You can set various live and static wallpapers, too.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The Lollipop-like homescreen

The notification center is the usual stock KitKat one and Quick toggles are available via a shortcut to the right. You can get straight to these by with a two-finger swipe from the top of the screen. From there you get access to key device settings such as brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, mobile networks and Battery. Some toggles are directly accessible shortcuts to their respected functions in the settings menu.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The Notification area and the Quick toggles

The app drawer is laid out across multiple side-scrollable panes. The apps are sorted alphabetically followed by the available widgets. YotaPhone 2 doesn't support custom sorting for the app drawer.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The app drawer

The Recent Apps switcher is the same as on any other Android device. It would be nice if Google finally adds a kill all/close all option to this screen.

YotaPhone 2

Recent apps list

Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and email and accesses your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs. It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice input as well. It also has a dedicated homescreen/lockscreen widget.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Google Now

Yota Apps and Yota Hub

The highlight of the YotaPhone 2 is its rear e-Ink display and its services. It has three primary functions - Yota Cover, Yota Panel and Yota Mirror. Switching between Cover and Panel is very easy, just touch the on-screen key at the bottom.

YotaPhone 2

Configuring the Yota Cover and Yota Panel settings

Yota Cover is basically an always-on wallpaper with four dock shortcuts - phone, messages, email, and notifications. You can set different wallpapers for the Yota Cover - choose from Facebook, Instagram, the pre-loaded collection or Yota's cloud collection available for download for free. Whatever you choose, it sticks on the back of the phone like a default print from the manufacturer. This is one of the things we really like about the YotaPhone - you can change the phone's look wherever you want.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Choosing a Yota Cover • Yota Cover

Yota Panel is a collection of widgets you can put on various homescreen panes. There is a plethora of available widgets - the time, the weather, favorite contacts, the default docked shortcuts, the e-book reader, YotaBattery saver, Play Books, Yota Games, music player shortcuts, among others.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The widgets for Yota Panel • Yota Panel in action on the e-paper screen

In addition to those different widgets, you can choose between various layouts for them.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Widget presets • custom layouts

You can use the dialpad on the e-paper screen, you scroll through the recent calls, but we weren't able to access the full-blown phonebook. You can also read messages and emails, as well as view the number of new notifications. To see all the notifications available you'll have to switch to the main screen though.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The dialpad • recent calls • messages • emails

The YotaPhone 2 comes with few e-paper-compatible games preloaded - Chess, Checkers, Sudoku and 2048. They work only on the rear screen no matter where you launch them from.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Chess • 2048 • Checkers

In addition to those games, you also get the mandatory eBook reader called Yota Reader, where you can upload and read e-books. There is also a YotaRSS app to read your favorite feeds from the web. The latter requires a Feedly account.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The eBook reader on the e-paper screen • adding eBooks is easy • Yota RSS requires Feedly account

Reading an e-book is a real pleasure on that e-paper screen and while its contrast and sharpness isn't as good as dedicated e-Readers such as Kobo or Kindle (probably because the protective curved glass), there is still no smartphone to offer better experience with e-books.

Yota Mirror is activated with an upward swipe from the bottom of the screen, next to Google Now shortcut. It switcher off the AMOLED screen and transfers the UI on the e-paper display. You can use the entire Android functionality this way, including the camera viewfinder (hello, selfies!) although the display isn't meant to handle a colored OS and it doesn't look pretty. Still, if you want to run Android on the rear screen - you can do it.

Yota Energy Saver isn't a feature exclusive to the rear display although there is a dedicated widget for turning it on/off and it calculates the estimated available battery time. You can activate the Yota Energy Saver from the Quick Toggles, Settings menu or the e-paper dedicated widget.

You can configure the Yota Energy Saver and its behavior from Settings.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Configuring the Yota Energy Saver • the dedicated Energy Saver e-paper widget • Quick Toggles

The e-paper display has capacitive touch sensors, but it does look laggy due to the inherent nature of the e-Ink technology. It requires time to display an image on the display and every few pages a refresh is done to clean the screen from the ghosting effect.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Performance

The YotaPhone 2 is running on the Snapdragon 801 chipset - the most popular choice for the 2014 flagships. The chip is still relevant and provides buttery smooth performance on 1080p devices, such as the YotaPhone 2.

First, we kick off our performance charts with the CPU-oriented GeekBench 3 benchmark. The quad-core Krait 400, though not as impressive as it was a while back, is still quite capable chap scoring close to Nexus 5 and better than the HTC One (M8).

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3214
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    3011
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2984
  • Apple iPhone 6
    2924
  • Oppo R5
    2806
  • YotaPhone 2
    2661
  • LG Nexus 5
    2453
  • HTC One (M8)
    2367

The compound AnTuTu 5 takes in consideration processor, graphics and memory, and here you can clearly see the performance gap the Snapdragon 801-powered generation have created.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    51905
  • HTC One (M8)
    44020
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    43676
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    43164
  • YotaPhone 2
    37056
  • Oppo R5
    31417

Another compound test is the popular BaseMark OS II. In addition to the core hardware, it also gauges the web browser performance and outputs a total score. This time around the YotaPhone 2 did as good as any other Snapdragon 801 smartphone would do.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    1252
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    1176
  • HTC One (M8)
    1126
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    1082
  • YotaPhone 2
    1054
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    915
  • Oppo R5
    772

The single and multi-core processor performance according to the BaseMark OS II results aren't as good as the S801 gang. The Krait 400 CPU inside the YotaPhone 2 is clocked at 2.27GHz, while the same CPU inside the Galaxy S5 runs on 2.5GHz though.

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    2579
  • HTC One (M8)
    2428
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    2415
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2409
  • YotaPhone 2
    2080
  • Oppo R5
    1657

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    15096
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    10063
  • Oppo R5
    10000
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    9948
  • HTC One (M8)
    9860
  • YotaPhone 2
    8188

Let's check the YotaPhone 2's Adreno 330 GPU and how it is stacking against the current crop of flagships.

All onscreen and offscreen test show the GPU of YotaPhne 2 is about 20% behind the same Adreno 330 @ 578Mhz in the S801 phones. The PowerVR unit inside the iPhone 6 series is quite a beast.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    42.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    31.3
  • HTC One (M8)
    28.4
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    27.8
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    26.6
  • YotaPhone 2
    22
  • Oppo R5
    15.1

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    48.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    30.1
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    28.3
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    28.1
  • YotaPhone 2
    24
  • Oppo R5
    14.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    17.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    13.4
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11.8
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.1
  • YotaPhone 2
    9.8
  • Oppo R5
    5.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    29.2
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    25.3
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.9
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.9
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11.7
  • YotaPhone 2
    10
  • Oppo R5
    5.8

BaseMark X graphic benchmark shows pretty much the same thing - the 2014 flagships are 20% better than the YotaPhone 2 when it comes to handling graphics.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    17054
  • HTC One (M8)
    12396
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11855
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11744
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    11065
  • YotaPhone 2
    9877
  • Oppo R5
    4855

Finally, we ran the Java-centric Kraken benchmark and the compound BrowserMark 2.1 on the YotaPhone 2's default web browser - Google Chrome. When it comes to Java - YotaPhone 2 is just great, while the overall browsing experience is very good.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    4710
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    4911
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    6043
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    6209
  • YotaPhone 2
    7201
  • HTC One (M8)
    10296
  • Oppo R5
    11656

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6
    3153
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    1600
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    1398
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    1364
  • YotaPhone 2
    1332
  • Oppo R5
    1319
  • HTC One (M8)
    1069

The Snapdragon 801 chipset inside the YotaPhone 2 is clearly behind the latest competition. The Snapdragon 801 chip in some of the phones comes with a faster processor and thus they are the better performers. But when it comes to real-life experience YotaPhone 2 is flagship-grade. The vanilla Android runs blazing fast and lag-free, while popular heavy games and apps are handled hassle-free.

Android phonebook

The phonebook is the stock Android app People, which hasn't been much changed since its major redesign last year with the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich. It uses tabbed interface with Favorites, Contacts and Groups as separate tabs.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The People app

The contact list has a dedicated search filed plus it offers and an alphabetical scroll bar. Quick Contacts features is available too.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Contact options

Telephony

The in-call quality with the YotaPhone 2 is decent, the earpiece is loud enough with the voice of the other party coming out loud and clear. Reception is good, too, with above average coverage in hallways and underground parkings as far as we tested non-scientifically.

Android 4.4 KitKat dialer app supports smart dial. Upon launch, it brings you to its default dialing tab where you get a search field, the most recent dialed contact and a list of contacts you've dialed most often. You can bring up or hide the dialer by its dedicated shortcut at the bottom. It supports smart dialing both by name and phone numbers.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The Dialer app

As usual we've tested the loudspeaker performance of the YotaPhone 2. It scored an Average mark, which means you should be able to hear the phone in semi-noisy environments, but to ensure not to miss any calls, we advise you to turn vibration on.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
LG Nexus 5 65.0 64.8 65.8 Below Average
YotaPhone 2 66.7 65.5 69.7 Average
Apple iPhone 6 66.6 65.7 72.8 Average
Motorola Moto G (2014) 66.5 66.2 75.1 Average
Samsung Galaxy S5 66.9 66.6 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent


Messaging and text input

Text messages and MMS use standard thread layout. Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message automatically into an MMS. Google's hangouts is also on board, it supports SMS too.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The messaging app • Adding multimedia turns it into an MMS

Naturally, the Gmail client and the default Email apps are onboard. Gmail can sync only with (multiple) Google accounts, while the generic Email app can handle POP and IMAP and offers a Combined inbox.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Gmail and Email apps

YotaPhone 2 relies on the default Google keyboard for text input. It supports Swype-like gesture input, personalized dictionary, auto-correction and lots of languages. You can use Google's voice input too.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Google keyboard• Settings

Gallery and Photos

Android 4.4 KitKat offers two gallery apps - the default Gallery and Photos.

The Gallery app shows all of the photos on your phone sorted by albums. There is a pop up menu, which allows sorting you images by time, by album or just limit your image access to camera roll.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The Gallery app

There are lots of sharing options, plus a capable integrated image editor.

The Photos app is the latest gallery app Google is trying to push lately. It integrates with Google+ and can backup your images automatically to your Google+ account if you like. It also shows all the photos from your online albums.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Photos gallery

If you sign in with your Google+ account and allow your photos to be backed up in the Google cloud, you can also use the Auto Awesome feature - it auto enhances your photos and combines similar photos and videos as events in a cool way - it either exports a collage picture or a motion gif.

Video player integrated within the Gallery

The video player has retained its stock Android interface and it is perfectly usable out of the box - it plays DivX, Xvid, MP4, WMV and MKV files up to 1080p resolution.

The multi-channel AC3 audio tracks are not supported though, which makes the MKV compatibility pretty much obsolete. MOV files aren't supported either.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Video player

Streaming videos to a Wi-Fi enabled TV is available. One way to go about this is to share your multimedia content over good ol' DLNA technology OR you can mirror your device's screen to the TV via the Miracast protocol (by casting your screen as it's called in the options menu of the latest Android KitKat).

Play Music with equalizers

Google's own music player called Play Music handles your music collection. It features the spanking New Listen Now feature, which tries to determine what you like and the sequence of your track-changing so that it can start offering you music you might like to play next.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Play Music

Google Play Music also gives you the option to upload music onto the Google-branded cloud and stream it on your device via Wi-Fi or mobile data. There's also the nifty option of downloading the content onto the device if you want to have there for connection-less times.

YotaPhone 2

Equalizers

From the Settings key you can get into the equalizer. It can be turned on and off and features several equalizer presets along with a custom user defined one. If you plug in a headset, you can also play around with the Bass boost and 3D effect sliders.

FM radio with RDS

The FM Radio is a pretty straightforward affair. Once you plug in a pair of headphones (to act as an antenna), the app will scan the stations available in your region. You can also input the region manually if the app doesn't configure it correctly.

There is RDS support, too, as well as FM recording.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

FM radio

Audio quality is great, volume levels disappoint

The YotaPhone 2 produced nicely clean output in the first test (the one where it's connected to an active external amplifier) and got excellent scores top to bottom. Unfortunately, its volume levels were below average, taking a few points away from an otherwise great performance.

Plugging in a pair of headphones only damages the stereo crosstalk and not too badly, so again you are left with pretty good clarity. The low volume levels issue persists though, suggesting you better not use too powerful headphones as the YotaPhone 2 simply won't be able to handle them.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
YotaPhone 2 +0.03, -0.31 -92.1 88.8 0.0049 0.0095 -90.7
YotaPhone 2 (headphones attached) +0.24, -0.33 -91.2 86.9 0.0079 0.018 -53.4
Samsung Galaxy Alpha +0.01, -0.04 -96.6 92.8 0.0058 0.0091 -97.1
Samsung Galaxy Alpha (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.01 -95.7 92.7 0.013 0.033 -65.6
Samsung Galaxy S5 +0.02, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0017 0.0089 -95.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 (headphones attached) +0.01, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0095 0.018 -61.9
HTC One mini 2 +0.02, -0.09 -94.8 93.8 0.010 0.011 -93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.03 -94.9 93.8 0.028 0.022 -90.1
Apple iPhone 5s +0.02, -0.05 -93.6 93.7 0.0013 0.0068 -90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.00 -93.4 93.3 0.0016 0.060 -76.1

YotaPhone 2 frequency response

YotaPhone 2 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Amazingly good 8MP camera

The YotaPhone 2 comes with a surprisingly good 8MP auto-focus camera. It takes images in a maximum resolution of 3264x2448 pixels. It has a built-in HDR mode, which can even be set to activate automatically in certain shooting conditions.

The camera UI is intuitive and requires practically no time to get used to. The image capture button is on the right side. Timer, flash settings, grid view, and the ability to switch to the front-facing camera are available via a menu in the top right corner.

The shooting options are located on the left side. They include regular shots, Panorama, Lens Blur, Photo Sphere, and Video.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The camera UI

HDR+ requires manual activation. We wish that there was an auto option available, though its lack is hardly a deal breaker.

The camera locks up focus rapidly. You can change the focus point via a tap on the screen.

Users can opt to set their image exposure manually via a toggle in the settings menu. Resolution of the photos, as well as the quality of the panoramas can also be tweaked.

YotaPhone 2 snaps amazingly good 8MP shots - if our test charts and posters are to be believed, it's even better than the 8MP camera on iPhone 6. The shots have plenty of resolved detail, impressively contained noise without any obvious noise reduction smears, and no oversharpening. Best of all, the processing itself is so mature that when pixel-peeping, it's hard to tell the photos come from a cameraphone and not a dedicated digicam.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2 camera samples

Turning on HDR does a good job of extending the dynamic range. It resolves more detail in the shadows, but it leads to somewhat unnatural looking highlights.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

HDR off • HDR on • HDR off • HDR on

YotaPhone 2 supports shooting 180-degree panoramic pictures. You can choose between three settings for the output resolution - low (high-speed), medium (normal speed), and high (slow). The high resolution option shoots at about 15000 x 2800 px. The resolved detail and contrast in those pano images is quite poor and the focus seems inaccurate on all shots we've taken.

YotaPhone 2

YotaPhone 2 panorama

You can use the rear camera for a selfies by switching the live camera feed to the rear display with the Yota Mirror. This way you will have the viewfinder facing you.

Photo quality comparison

The YotaPhone 2 enters our Photo quality comparison tool to face off against other 8MP shooters and you can see it even outdoes the iPhone 6 in all three test charts.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

The YotaPhone 2 in our photo compare test

1080p video recording at 30 fps

The camcorder UI shares the same viewfinder with the still camera. The YotaPhone 2 records 1080p videos at 30fps. The bitrate averages about 20Mbps, which explains the good amount of resolved detail. Audio is recorded at 96 Kbps in stereo mode with a sampling rate of 48 kHz.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Camcorder • settings

Videos by the YotaPhone 2 are not on the level of the still images. Indeed, there is is enough detail, the colors are good, and the framerate is smooth. However there is a certain softness to them and they are nowhere as good as the ones shot by the iPhone 6.

This is a short video sample, which we've uploaded on YouTube.

And this is an untouched 1080p video sample taken straight from the YotaPhone 2.

Video quality comparison

The YotaPhone 2 enters our video quality comparison tool to be pitted against other 1080p camcorders. You can choose the devices you compare it against from within the tools' page. You can see the that unlike the still images, the YotaPHone 2 fares worse than the iPhone 6 when it comes to video recording.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

The YotaPhone 2 in our Video quality comparison tool

Google Chrome web browser

The YotaPhone 2 comes with Google Chrome as the default web browser out of box instead of the generic Android browser. While the minimalist interface hasn't changed since Chrome launched on Android, the browser is being constantly refined by Google, and this has resulted in one of the smoothest and most powerful browsing experiences we've encountered on a mobile.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Browsing GSMArena.com with Chrome

Of course, one of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.

Google Chrome is generous with the available settings as well. You can control almost every aspect of your web browsing from choosing what content you want to allow to load like JavaScript, images, cookies and pop-ups.

The Reduce data usage option does what it says on the tin - Google servers compress the webpage (using Google-developed tech like SPDY and WebP) before sending them to your phone thus saving you data traffic volume and bandwidth.

Opening the tabs area reveals a list of tabs which can be closed, again with a left or right swipe. The animation accompanying this action is neat, too. Incognito tabs, which lets you browse without saving history or cookies, show up right next to regular tabs.

Other pre-installed apps

Google Calendar received a major overhaul. The app features sleek new look that features different graphic for each month. It can automatically add events straight from your Gmail account, so you don't need to worry about flights, dinner reservations and the likes.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Brand new calendar app

You can now add photos and maps to your calendar events. A button to add events can be seen at the bottom right of the app.

YotaPhone 2 also features the Office Suite 8, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt), and it can also read PDFs.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Office Suite 8

The Calculator and Clock app (with stopwatch, world clock and timer) are available by default.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Calculator • Clock

You bet Google Maps and its more thumbable Navigation counterpart are also part of the app package to utilize the built-in GPS/GLONASS receiver.

They are most useful when you use them while you are online. Google Maps allows you to download offline maps of an area and even plan routes without a data connection but you can't search for addresses or POIs without an internet connection.

On the positive side, it can plan driving, public transport, cycling and walking routes. It can also display pretty accurate traffic alerts as well (though it doesn't always take them into account when routing you).

Whatever you may be missing, there is the always-growing Google Play Store available.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Google Maps • Google Play Store

Another great support tool, which is available to all Android devices, is the Android Device Manager. It keeps you connected to all Android devices, on which you've setup your Google account. It can help you find your misplaced device by ringing it and if it's not at the house, by finding it on the map. If it gets stolen, you also have the option to lock the device and delete all data. What few people seem to realize is that for the remote locking to work, you have to initially enable it on your smartphone via the pre-installed Google Settings app.

Final words

We approached the YotaPhone 2 as the niche device we thought it was. By the time we reached the end of this review, we were ready to rethink. It's an odd-ball of a device by all means, but its second screen opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities.

The YotaPhone 2 is closer to the current crop of flagships than to the midrange market segment. The overall performance is Nexus 5/Galaxy S5 grade or similar - fast, fluid and capable of handling pretty much everything.

The 5" AMOLED is another great asset, with excellent pixel density, great contrast, solid color reproduction and good sunlight legibility. The 8MP rear cam turned out really nice, while the vanilla Android KitKat runs smooth as silk. YotaPhone 2 is supposed to get Lollipop sooner rather than later. We are certainly starting to like how Yota goes about its business.

Yota Yotaphone 2

The rear e-Ink display turned out not as sharp as other conventional e-reader screens. But it does offer the hassle-free and eye-soothing reading experience right out of your pocket. Plus, it indeed makes the YotaPhone 2 look fresh and new every day, with those awesome wallpapers that look like printed on the curved Gorilla Glass 3 over at the back.

And there is more. The rear widgets and apps let you access the phone's basic features: calls, messages, and email with the main screen off, which means lower battery consumption. There are games and apps that look darn good on the e-paper screen. And you can even run the Android homescreen on it, if you want.

Honestly, there isn't a single YotaPhone 2 feature that didn't strike our fancy. The lack of a 4K video recording or microSD slot is certainly not something to fuss over.

YotaPhone 2 key test findings:

  • Build quality is great, dual Gorilla Glass 3, curved back
  • The quality of the AMOLED display and its sunlight legibility is excellent
  • The e-Ink display is great for reading e-books, RSS and setting up custom wallpapers and info screens, though its contrast isn't on par with the conventional e-book readers
  • The battery life is average, but its 3G call endurance is great
  • We rated the speaker loudness as Average
  • Vanilla Android KitKat OS is very light and smooth, Lollipop update is on the way
  • Many Yota Apps and Covers for the e-paper screen, custom Energy Saver option
  • The benchmark performance is very good for the market segment, but worse than the Snapdragon 801 competition
  • The audio quality is good
  • Camera takes amazing photos (imho, better than an iPhone 6) but video recording can only be rated as "good"
  • Video player supports every popular video codec but MOV, it also lacks AC3 audio decoding; subtitles are not supported.

There is no other device to compete directly with the YotaPhone 2 besides the original YotaPhone, of course.

In case the e-paper screen is all you need and you don't care about how powerful your hardware is, or which Android version you get - you can always opt for the original. It has a front 4.3" IPS HD screen and a 4.3" e-paper rear screen. The Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset is dated, as is the Android Jelly Bean OS but that nearly halves the price. At €430, it's still rather expensive for what it offers under the hood.

Yota YotaPhone

Yota YotaPhone

And the sequel is really pushing it - at €700 it will surely be a tough sell. For this sort of cash you can get the latest Kindle Voyage with a bigger, 300ppi backlit e-Ink screen and Wi-Fi and free 3G data. This would leave you with enough cash to get a mighty fine smartphone with even better specs than the YotaPhone 2.

If you're lucky, you may as well squeeze a flagship in that budget. The water-proof Samsung Galaxy S5 with a 5.1" Super AMOLED screen, the LG-made Nexus 5 32GB or the newly released 5.2" AMOLED Moto X 2nd Gen 32GB are among the prime options in the 5-inch segment.

Samsung Galaxy S5
LG Nexus 5
Motorola Moto X (2014)

Samsung Galaxy S5 • LG Nexus 5 • Motorola Moto X (2014)

No doubt though, the YotaPhone 2 isn't your average Android flagship and certainly not a smartphone for everybody. To be honest, a specific target group is quite hard to define. Avid e-book readers will certainly appreciate the pocketable form factor and not being forced to stare at a backlit LCD screen. It's a screen too that we discovered has many other uses beyond this one.

In the end though, the novelty factor will be much stronger in attracting customers who are usually willing to spend big on new technology. The YotaPhone 2 is as unique as they get and the novelty isn't likely to wear off soon - for the right users, this may as well justify the price. Although to be fair, speaking about price here is like talking about which side your toast will land. If it's buttered on both sides you just don't let it slip.

Retail package

YotaPhone 2 is packed within a premium paper box, which unfolds rather oddly, spreading the entire retail package contents before you.

All components, even the SIM ejection pen, are packed with great attention to detail, just like we'd expect from a premium product.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Unboxing the YotaPhone 2

The micro USB cable and the single-piece headset use tangle-free wires, which is still rare to see with the competition. There are also lots of complimentary earbuds - Yota made sure there is a pair to suite everyone's ears and then some.

YotaPhone 2 360-degree view

Some might say the YotaPhone 2 looks a lot like the Nexus 5 as it uses similar material and has a similar understated looks.

The YotaPhone 2 spreads at 145 x 69.4 x 9mm, which is 6mm taller than the unbelievably compact Nexus 5, but the width and thickness of the two are identical. The YotaPhone 2 weighs 145g, which is 15g heavier than LG-made Nexus 5.

Design and build quality

YotaPhone 2 isn't the traditional smartphone we are used to seeing. Sure, it looks like a generic phone at the front, but the back is an entirely different story.

The YotaPhone 2 is built around a matte plastic frame, looking just like the Nexus 5's, while the two displays are protected by respective layers of Gorilla Glass 3.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Gorilla Glass 3 is in charge of protection of both displays

The rear Gorilla Glass 3 shield is curved at the corners. It isn't as transparent as the front glass and has a smoked look to it. It's also matte and even slightly rough to the touch as opposed to the smooth glass surface of the front. In other words, it doesn't feel as glass to the touch. The smoked-like surface may sacrifice some of the screen's contrast, but it looks great and fits the design quite well.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The curved back

The good news is there isn't a single glossy element on the YotaPhone 2 and the gadget isn't prone to fingerprints and smudges at all. It's a sleek and elegant phone, and its matte back boosts both the aesthetics and the overall grip.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

Handling the YotaPhone 2

Handling the YotaPhone 2 is a real pleasure, courtesy of the mostly matte material used on both the frame and over the rear display. We find the minor toll taken on the e-paper display's contrast rather acceptable, because otherwise we'd probably have gotten an all glossy and slippery phone - an awful combination.

Controls

The front of the YotaPhone 2 is mostly occupied by the beautiful 5" AMOLED screen. The earpiece is centered on top of the screen, flanked by a coupled of sensors and the front 2.1MP snapper.

There aren't any controls below the screen, Android OS provides virtual ones instead.

YotaPhone 2

Above the 5" AMOLED screen

The left side of the YotaPhone 2 is completely bare, while the right one houses the volume rocker and the power/lock key. You may notice the small hole on the volume control - the entire thing is ejectable, as it doubles as a nano-SIM bed.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

There is nothing on the left • the volume rocker is your nano-SIM slot

The lonely 3.5mm audio jack is at the top of the YotaPhone 2, while the bottom has the microUSB port flanked by two identical grilles - one for the loudspeaker and one for the microphone.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

A peek at the top and bottom sides of the YotaPhone 2

Finally, the electronic paper display is the highlight feature at the back of the YotaPhone 2. Above we find the 8MP camera lens and the single-LED flash.

You can choose from dozens of widgets for the rear display, you can also set it to show a picture or pictures from your gallery. The display is always on and for the naked eye it looks like a factory print on a rear panel. If you turn off the phone (or your battery dies), the YotaPhone 2 name will continue to be displayed at the rear display, as once the image has been set, the e-Ink screen requires virtually no power to sustain it.

YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2
YotaPhone 2

The rear e-ink display • the rear camera

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