We were fortunate to be invited to this week's posh launch event in London's East End for the Russian-made Yotaphone 2 from Yota Devices - the first (well, second if you count the first-gen model) handset to feature dual Super-AMOLED/e-ink displays - one on either side.
And yeah, simply put - it's pretty damn cool.
From our limited time playing with the device this week, we were exceptionally impressed. Not only does the always-on e-ink display represent a significant leap in usability surpassing the utility of even Motorola's signature auto-wake lockscreen on the Moto X, but we found the 'mirroring' of the Android desktop to the EPD (code for 'e-paper display') and full touch capabilities to be nothing short of ground-breaking. Sure you can't watch videos on the rather low resolution EPD (but honestly why would you want to)? But short of games and YouTube, most every other action that can be performed on the 1080p Super-AMOLED front display can be mirrored on the back of the phone in extreme battery-saving e-ink glory.
Most of the keynote presentation by Yota Devices CEO, Vlad Martynox focused on the battery-saving benefits of the EPD - projecting as long as 10-day battery life when using the EPD exclusively.
And that's a lot to brag about.
But as Developers - we're most excited about the App possibilities of a dual-screened device like the Yotaphone. Sure the Yotaphone 2 will (roughly) project any existing Android App from the 1080p full-colour front-screen to its opposite EPD counterpart, but the really exciting part is how we can begin to think about optimising our Apps for both screens (using the full colour screen for some App functions, while sending very specific content, alerts, and updates to the rear always-on EPD screen).
The applications for reading-focused Apps is obvious - but with the ability for an always-on display that will not drain the Smartphone's battery, live information becomes much more enticing. Currently the Yotaphone 2 is being demonstrated primarily with its live notification features (with a number of EPD 'lockscreens' showing the latest phone calls, messages, and emails that have been received live and in real-time).
And that's nice.
But what's more exciting is the ability to provide live news feeds, customised ticker-like updates of a mash up of sources and networks, and a constant stream of highly personalised updates beyond simply missed calls and texts. This makes the phone a lot more than just...well, a phone. With a live always-on stream of information, the handset can truly become the 'glance-able' interface Smartwatches and even Google Glass have long claimed to be.
With the Yoptaphone on your desk (EPD side up) or at home on the sofa you can forget about waking up your phone or Smartwatch and flicking through notifications and news updates. It will simply all be there ready, live and updated.
While it remains to be seen whether a single device like the Yotaphone 2 will gain significant market-share to entice content providers to create a dedicated App for the handset - the real significance and victory for Yota Devices is in pushing the needle of innovation in an otherwise painfully stagnant Android and iOS world.
As one reporter stated - this is what the Amazon Fire Phone should have been.
And with rumours already swirling of device manufacturers like OnePlus readying a dual-screen EPD approach similar to Yotaphone for their upcoming devices, there's every chance this new paradigm may well become mainstream.
We'll definitely be watching this closely.