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printed December 17, 2017
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Review: YotaPhone 2

Form Performance Basics E-Ink Screen Extras Wrap-Up Comments  

Screen

The front screen measures 5 inches and has full HD resolution. It's a pretty standard panel for today's smartphones. I think it looks really good. Colors are accurate and it's bright enough to be used effectively indoors and out. The resolution is nice and sharp, and the phone's graphics and icons all have well-defined borders and edges.

The e-ink panel is black and white and supports 16 shades of gray. It measures 4.7 inches across the diagonal and offers 960 x 540 resolution. You can definitely tell that the resolution doesn't match the main panel, but this screen doesn't need to be HD. It isn't as bright as the main panel, but it's visible no matter where you take it, even under direct sunlight, thanks to the electronic paper technology. YotaPhone calls it the "Always-On Display."

Signal

We tested an unlocked, international version of the Y2. As such, it is not optimized for U.S. networks. Tested on AT&T and T-Mobile's networks, the Y2 performed admirably. It was able to use HSPA+ data, but not LTE. The fastest data speeds I obtained reached 10 Mbps for downloads and 2 Mbps for uploads. More importantly, this unoptimized handset remained connected to AT&T and T-Mobile without issue. In other words, I was able to make calls when and where I needed to with no worries about dropped calls. The device did well even in areas with poor coverage, so we should expect the Y2 to perform a bit better when properly adjusted for U.S. networks.

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Sound

Phone calls made with the Y2 generally sounded good. I was pleased with the results on both AT&T and T-Mobile. There was no distortion or interference of any kind. Calls were clear and had a pleasant tone. I wish the earpiece speaker were a bit louder, though, as it tended to get drowned out in noisy environments. People I spoke to through the Y2 said I sounded really good. The speakerphone was plenty loud for most spaces in which you might use it, but it was more prone to distortion and breakup. The ringers are reasonably loud, but I wish they were louder. The vibrate alert is good enough.

Battery

For this phone, the answer to this question really, really depends on how you use it. If you skip the back screen entirely and use it like any regular phone, you're going to find the phone konks out at about the same time you're getting sleepy at the end of the day. If you mix in some use of the e-ink screen (for reading messages, checking the time/weather, music playback, and managing notifications) you can squeeze close to two days out of the Y2. If you ramp up usage of the e-ink screen to a mix of about 75%, you'll see battery life in excess of two days and perhaps even three. Keep in mind, of course, that this test unit doesn't support LTE 4G, so mileage may vary a bit.

The Y2's battery saver tool is called Yota Energy, which can be set to come on when the battery reaches 5, 10, or 15% capacity. The first thing it does is disable the main screen. The entire UI is shifted to the Always-On Display. You're able to make calls, send/read emails and messages, and perform a few other basics. Yota Energy also lets you shutdown a wide variety of functions, including WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, vibration/haptic feedback, account syncing, and so on. Yota doesn't make any specific claims about how long the battery will last once Yota Energy is on, but my tests showed the phone lasted a full day (while still making phone calls, sending messages, checking email, and the weather) with just 10% of the battery remaining.

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