Every week, it seems, the one-upmanship on screen size continues in the Android world. "Not happy with a 4.8-inch screen, well we have 5 inches for you." "Yeah, well we have 5.5 inches." "Is that all? We've got a 6-incher in the works." It's becoming a bit of a burlesque.
But not to worry. I predict that next Christmas, the size competition will fade away as something more interesting and useful takes center stage: the YotaPhone. You've probably never heard of Yota Devices, a Russian mobile electronics company known in Europe for its routers and cellular modems. If its plans become reality, you'll recognize Yota next fall, when its Android smartphone hits the market in the United States.
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What could possibly make an Android smartphone from a Russian mobile electronics company worthwhile? That was my thought when the firm approached me for a meeting. I get hundreds of pitches for products that no one should bother with. But I went.
I liked what I saw, and I think you will too. In fact, I predict that if Yota delivers what it's promising, the YotaPhone will be the smartphone to lust after in Christmas 2013 -- not the iPhone 6, Galaxy Note III, Galaxy S IV, or whatever else may be vying for the premium smartphone mantle.
The YotaPhone has a curved back screen made of Corning's bendable but supertough Willow Glass -- the flexible version of Corning's Gorilla Glass that is now the high-end norm. You read right: a second screen on the back. That screen uses the E Ink "electronic paper" technology you've no doubt seen on some black-and-white e-readers. What it shows is up to you; the engineers at Yota have created software that displays Android apps such as Maps, Twitter, Facebook, and Email -- pretty much any app -- on that screen after a simple double-fingered long swipe gesture. Even when your smartphone goes to sleep or you are using an app on the main color front screen, that back screen runs whatever app or image you shunted to it. Not only is it always on, it is always visible.
If you're a stock junkie, you can see your stock tracking any time by simply turning the smartphone over. Twitter junkies can see their tweets at any time. Email junkies can see emails at any time. Whatever information stream is your drug of choice, you can always see it -- no pressing or tapping, no swiping, no unlocking, no tray-pulling, no app opening. If you're not an information addict, you can leave a photo on display, whether to personalize it or have a favorite memory always available.