We approached the YotaPhone 2 as the niche device we thought it was. By the time we reached the end of this review, we were ready to rethink. It's an odd-ball of a device by all means, but its second screen opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities.
The YotaPhone 2 is closer to the current crop of flagships than to the midrange market segment. The overall performance is Nexus 5/Galaxy S5 grade or similar - fast, fluid and capable of handling pretty much everything.
The 5" AMOLED is another great asset, with excellent pixel density, great contrast, solid color reproduction and good sunlight legibility. The 8MP rear cam turned out really nice, while the vanilla Android KitKat runs smooth as silk. YotaPhone 2 is supposed to get Lollipop sooner rather than later. We are certainly starting to like how Yota goes about its business.
The rear e-Ink display turned out not as sharp as other conventional e-reader screens. But it does offer the hassle-free and eye-soothing reading experience right out of your pocket. Plus, it indeed makes the YotaPhone 2 look fresh and new every day, with those awesome wallpapers that look like printed on the curved Gorilla Glass 3 over at the back.
And there is more. The rear widgets and apps let you access the phone's basic features: calls, messages, and email with the main screen off, which means lower battery consumption. There are games and apps that look darn good on the e-paper screen. And you can even run the Android homescreen on it, if you want.
Honestly, there isn't a single YotaPhone 2 feature that didn't strike our fancy. The lack of a 4K video recording or microSD slot is certainly not something to fuss over.
There is no other device to compete directly with the YotaPhone 2 besides the original YotaPhone, of course.
In case the e-paper screen is all you need and you don't care about how powerful your hardware is, or which Android version you get - you can always opt for the original. It has a front 4.3" IPS HD screen and a 4.3" e-paper rear screen. The Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset is dated, as is the Android Jelly Bean OS but that nearly halves the price. At €430, it's still rather expensive for what it offers under the hood.
And the sequel is really pushing it - at €700 it will surely be a tough sell. For this sort of cash you can get the latest Kindle Voyage with a bigger, 300ppi backlit e-Ink screen and Wi-Fi and free 3G data. This would leave you with enough cash to get a mighty fine smartphone with even better specs than the YotaPhone 2.
If you're lucky, you may as well squeeze a flagship in that budget. The water-proof Samsung Galaxy S5 with a 5.1" Super AMOLED screen, the LG-made Nexus 5 32GB or the newly released 5.2" AMOLED Moto X 2nd Gen 32GB are among the prime options in the 5-inch segment.
No doubt though, the YotaPhone 2 isn't your average Android flagship and certainly not a smartphone for everybody. To be honest, a specific target group is quite hard to define. Avid e-book readers will certainly appreciate the pocketable form factor and not being forced to stare at a backlit LCD screen. It's a screen too that we discovered has many other uses beyond this one.
In the end though, the novelty factor will be much stronger in attracting customers who are usually willing to spend big on new technology. The YotaPhone 2 is as unique as they get and the novelty isn't likely to wear off soon - for the right users, this may as well justify the price. Although to be fair, speaking about price here is like talking about which side your toast will land. If it's buttered on both sides you just don't let it slip.