Yandex – the Google of Russia – has launched its first ever smartphone

You may not be too familiar with Yandex, but in very simplistic terms it’s useful to think of the company as Russia’s answer to Google. Like Google, it’s the country’s top search engine (and fourth most popular in the world), and it also dabbles in e-commerce, online advertising, transportation and mobile apps.

It even baked its own virtual assistant – Alice – into a smart speaker back in May. And now the comparisons to Google are even more obvious, as Yandex has just released its own smartphone, rather unimaginatively called ‘The Yandex Phone.

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To be clear, this isn’t a Google Pixel 3 beater by any means, but it’s not got bad specifications as mid-range-to-budget handsets go. The 5.65-inch device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor – the same one found inside the Moto G6 Plus and Nokia 6 – backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

The screen is a 2160 x 1080 affair, and it doesn’t have an unsightly notch getting in the way. It has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and a dual array on the back with another 5-megapixel lens supporting the main 16-megapixel snapper.

Plus it still finds room for the headphone jack: take that, Google, Apple, OnePlus and pretty everyone else but Samsung.

Those are hardly flagship beating specifications, but it only has a RRP of 17,990 rubles, which is around £210. And despite running Android, the Yandex Phone is packed with Yandex’s own software too, with Alice the virtual assistant being accompanied by the company’s own mapping and weather apps.

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It goes on sale tomorrow at Yandex’s flagship store in Russia, though it would be quite surprising if it went on sale anywhere else in Europe.

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