- E-ink display suffers from blurry text and ghosting
- Camera sensor placement very awkward
- Capacitive buttons for e-ink display not responsive
With the growing number of Android phones available to the market, it can be difficult for manufacturers to stand out from the crowd. Russian designed YotaPhone sparked the interest of many critics as it offers two 4.3" displays: one regular LCD and the other e-ink. The phone switches between LCD to e-ink when performing tasks such as reading and viewing notifications. The phone manufacturer explains that this transition ultimately improves battery life as the e-ink display only consumes power when changing image. While an interesting idea, reviewers ultimately found the 1,800mAh battery lacking. Trusted Reviews states, "…there's limited reasons to use the black and white screen. You can squeeze about a day's use but that's really pushing it." They go on to mention that the battery does charge quickly and goes from fully drained to full capacity in a little over two hours.
In terms of design, the YotaPhone isn't going to win any rewards. Reviewers describe it as boring and blocky. It is fairly thick measuring in at 0.39 inches and not exactly lightweight at 146 grams. Due to the two screens, Yota opted to move the camera sensor to the bottom right hand corner in the back, which forces you to flip the phone any time you want to take a picture. Once they got over the initial awkwardness, critics found the camera adequate. Engadget states, "The 13-megapixel image output is of decent quality…which is a polite way of saying there's little to report in terms of either flaws or bonuses."
The main focus of the device is its two screens. The main display only offers a 720p resolution though this still translates to a pixel density of 320ppi. While not full HD, experts describe the display as sharp though they also warn that its black levels and viewing angles are mediocre. The back e-ink display garnered more negative criticism due to blurriness of text as well as very noticeable ghosting. Not only that but it also lacks many of the features found in current e-readers such as lack of color, no back-lighting and no touch sensitivity. There is a capacitive area beneath the panel that responds to swipes, taps and holds, but most reviewers describe it as being unresponsive with T3 adding, "…trying to read an eBook becomes a chore as it'll take several swipes to change the page."
In keeping with the general theme, the internal specs of the phone are not inspiring. It's equipped with a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Despite only have a dual-core processor, reviewers found that it ran relatively smooth for normal day-to-day use even when streaming videos and multi-tasking. They did notice some slow down and stuttering when playing more graphics heavy games though.
Most critics found the idea of the YotaPhone interesting but its actual execution lacking. CNET sums up, "If a better quality display is used and YotaPhone works much more closely with developers, its next generation device might be worth checking out."