by Jason Snell
YotaPhone 2, the two-sided phone
This 5-inch Android smartphone comes with a 4.7-inch e-paper display on its back, which seems like an obvious gimmick until you start using it. I approached the YotaPhone 2 from a position of skepticism, but have been quickly converted: the rear screen can be an effective e-reader, an always-on weather and notification display, a battery-saving gaming screen, and just a really attractive back cover for the phone. I didn’t expect to see any exciting new phones until CES in Las Vegas next month, but the YotaPhone has snuck up with perfect pre-Christmas timing and is now one of the most intriguing devices on the market.
Sticking an E Ink screen on the back of a smartphone is an interesting idea. Having not used one in person, I’m a little skeptical about the execution—Savov says it’s “surprisingly well thought out, though it’s quite unintuitive at first,” which is a perplexing statement. Still, one of the things Android does well is let hardware makers try crazy stuff. This is definitely crazy stuff, but I kind of like it. Or at least the idea of it.