Yota Launches Crowdfunder To Get Its Dual-Screen E-Ink Smartphone To The U.S.

Fans of unusual smartphones should point their eyes at this Indiegogo campaign. Russian smartphone upstart Yota Devices is today launching its crowdfunder to bring its sequel dual-screen e-ink Android-based smartphone, the YotaPhone 2, to market in the U.S.

We reviewed the YotaPhone 2 earlier this year, with TC’s Darrell Etherington dubbing it “one of the first smartphones in a long time to genuinely surprise me”, and flagging up the benefits of packing a secondary, low power consumption e-ink display in your pocket if you do a lot of reading on the go.

The phone has two screens: on the front is a 5-inch AMOLED display, and on the back there’s a 4.7-inch e-ink screen. Both are touchscreens. Yota’s software allows for content to be sent from the color screen to the always-on rear screen for reading, decoration or information purposes. The Android 5.0 Lollipop update will be rolling out to YotaPhone2 this summer.

Yota Devices intends to launch the smartphone in the North American market this summer, and is using the Indiegogo website to take pre-orders — with the handset starting at $500 for early backers (with an August shipping schedule). It’s looking to raise $50,000 via the two-month campaign which it says will be used to help pay for the certifications and regulatory fees required to launch in the market.

Crowdfunding and direct online pre-sales is one way for a new OEM to enter a new market without the support of carriers, which of course drive the vast majority of device sales. Yota Devices has zero hope of breaking into the mainstream but does have the chance to reach a niche, tech-savvy audience — and one that’s most likely to appreciate its Android handset with an e-ink twist.

Updates to Yota’s Android skin, coming in the Lollipop update, will include tweaks to the YotaHub, YotaCover and YotaEnergy services as well as new features such as YotaFitness, YotaRemote, YotaNotes and YotaSports, it said today. There will also be new full screen widgets for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and new partner applications developed for the device — including BookMate, StayTuned, Psy(x) Audio, MusixMatch, Everypost and Instant.