Russia’s First Smartphone Goes on Sale


Russia’s first smartphone – a quirky, dual-screen device with a traditional LCD-color display on one side and an electronic-paper display similar to the Amazon Kindle on the other – began selling in Russia and several other European countries on Wednesday.

The Yotaphone, developed by a Russian tech start-up, Yota Devices, will be sold for about $675 in Europe and for $600 in Russia, slightly cheaper than top competitors like the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The phone has a 4.3-inch 1280 HD display, slightly larger than the iPhone 5 but smaller than the top-selling Galaxy S4, which has a 5-inch screen.

The Russian phone, which uses an Android operating system, is an attempt by a European company to jump into the handset market, largely dominated by American and Asian manufacturers. Jolla, a smaller Finnish start-up founded by former Nokia engineers, has only recently started selling its own handset aimed at a global audience.

Chief executive of Yota Devices, Vladislav Martynov, said the introduction of dual screens was “a revolution in telephone architecture” and would conserve battery life.

Mr. Martynov said that the electronic-ink display on the back of the Yotaphone would show information, including feeds from Facebook and Twitter, even when the phone is not in use. “Before Yotaphone, this space was useless,” he said.

Interest in smartphones is growing in Russia, as it is in other developing countries, with two of every five phones sold in the second quarter being a smartphone, the research firm IDC said in a report last month.

The Yotaphone made a strong showing in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it won a CNET Best of CES Award for “Hottest Mobile Device.”

Mr. Martynov declined to say how many units were in production but said more than 10,000 orders for the phone had been placed in advance of the launching. It is being produced in Singapore, Taiwan and China, but Mr. Martynov hinted that elements of production may take place in Russia in the future.

Besides Russia, the device is being sold in Austria, France, Germany and Spain. It will go on sale in January.

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