Android goes E Ink: Dual-screen YotaPhone now on sale

Finally available, YotaPhone is. Introduced last year and shown off at CES in January, the dual-screen YotaPhone is now on sale in Russia, Austria, France, Germany and Spain for €499 ($678 USD). The idiosyncratic Android(s goog) smartphone features two different displays – a standard LCD on the front, and an E Ink panel on the back.

The idea behind the YotaPhone is that your secondary E Ink display is on all the time, but unlike the more traditional LCD, it won’t suck up a ton of battery power. This allows you to check notifications and read messages, and Yota claims you should be able to get up to 50 hours of reading time with it. I got a chance to see the phone at CES earlier this year – the E Ink display is also helpful if you like to read on your phone for an extended period of time.

Aside from the secondary display, this is a relatively standard Android phone. The primary screen is a 4.3-inch, 720p LCD. And the phone is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. There’s also a 13-megapixel camera on the back of the phone.

This isn’t the first phone I’ve seen to feature a secondary display. A number of phones have tried (and, sadly, failed) to do this already. The two-year-old Kyocera Echo comes to mind – but that phone featured two LCDs side by side. I think the Yotaphone’s e-ink screen adds genuine utility, and I’m hoping this quirky phone finds a place in the market.

There is no word on U.S. availability just yet, but according to the BBC, Yota plans to launch the phone in 20 additional countries by March 2014.