YotaPhone 2 – Software
Instead of tinkering too much with the look and feel of Android, the YotaPhone 2 uses a number of apps to control the settings of the rear screen.
YotaPanels let you set up widgets and shortcuts on a set of four screen panels. We’ve already mentioned that the basic message and time widgets are useful, but you can also add an e-reader app or, if you’re a social butterfly, the always-on Yota Social Network Reader for Twitter feeds. YotaPanels are easy to set up and make the EPD extremely useful, particularly if you’re running low on juice.
That’s where YotaEnergy comes in. YotaEnergy lets you switch from that power-sapping AMOLED front screen to the low-powered e-ink display. According to Yota this can extend battery life significantly, offering eight and a half hours of life with just 15% of battery remaining.
In our experience it works, too. Using the EPD does let you eek out a lot more use, although, as already mentioned, it’s not the best screen to use as a replacement for a more traditional smartphone display.
Even without YotaEnergy turned on the YotaPhone 2 can mirror the front screen to the rear. YotaMirror is easy to use – open any app, hold the Android home key and three options appear. From left to right they are: mirroring, which turns off the front screen and mirrors everything to the rear; Google, which opens search; and YotaSnap, which takes a snapshot and saves it to the rear screen. The last is handy if your phone is about to die and you need a vital bit of information available.
Yota plans to create a whole host of apps for the YotaPhone 2’s EPD display, but currently these are limited to Chess, Checkers, Sudoku, 2048, YotaRSS and Yotareader.
Yotareader is an ebook reader designed for the YotaPhone. It’s pretty basic but does enable you to read your favourite DRM-free books. You can, of course, use screen mirroring for the Kindle or Nook apps if you have a library of DRM-protected books.
On the whole, having the EPD on the rear is useful but it does cause one annoying foible. We found the front screen turns off sometimes for no good reason. We first put it down to a sensitive power button, but the real cause is that fingers on the rear screen can unwittingly unlock it, causing the front to switch off.
YotaPhone 2 – Features and Connectivity
The YotaPhone 2 doesn’t pack the kitchen sink in terms of features or connectivity options, like the Galaxy S5 or other similarly priced Android heavyweights do. You do get the essentials – barring one major omission.
There’s 4G/LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC and FM radio. What’s lacking is a microSD port. Whether this is a problem for you depends on whether the 32GB of internal storage is adequate for your needs. It should be for the majority of people, but if you like to carry a load of books, movies, photos and music around, you’ll quickly find yourself restricted.
Call quality is solid, although we did notice that signal reception isn’t quite as strong as some of its competitors, leading to dropped calls in low-signal areas.