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E-ink hybrid Yota 3 teased, but launch remains a way off

While we wait for an official unveiling of the next e-ink Yotaphone, the Yota 3 has been teased at Harbin's China-Russia Expo this weekend.

Published onJune 19, 2017

It’s been more than three years since the intriguing e-ink display based YotaPhone 2 was unveiled but it’s finally looking like the company is ready to release its successor at some point this year. Speaking at Harbin’s China-Russia Expo over the weekend, Baoli Yota teased the Yota 3, which is expected to arrive on store shelves sometimes in early fall this year.

Unfortunately, the release didn’t reveal too much about the device, with not even an official image to tantalize us with (the image above is the YotaPhone 2). However, sources have leaked a few specifications for the handset to Engadget. The spec sheet reveals that the phone will come with a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display on the front, paired up with a 5.2-inch 720p e-ink touchscreen on the back. There’s also the inclusion of 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, dual SIM slots, a 12 megapixel rear camera, 13 megapixel front camera, USB Type-C port, and a 3,200 mAh battery.

While there are clearly some changes to last year’s spec sheet, these specifications are no longer competitive with this generation’s higher-end model. The reported inclusion of a mid-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset seems to confirm this target market, and there are some concerns that this platform will be a little dated by the time the phone actually hits shelves. On the upside, the Yota 3 is expected to ship with a choice of 64GB or 128GB internal storage, with prices set at $350 and $450 respectively. That’s a fair bit more reasonable than before.

According to reports from the teaser event, The Yota 3 will starting shipping in China come September, with pre-orders in Russia starting at a similar time. However, it might not be until October or November that the phone starts hitting other markets. Even then global availability may be limited and it’s not clear if Western markets will see the phone this year, if at all. The phone was initially teased for pre-orders this summer, but clearly there have been some issues since then.

The cause for such a huge delay between the previous phone and the lack of a firm launch announcement to date boils down to a lack of investment from the company’s major partners. Following investment company Baoli buying just 30 percent of the company rather than a promised 65 percent back in October 2015, a CEO reshuffle in July 2016, and a refusal of mass production funding from Baoli in March, the development and production of the Yota 3 has been help up numerous times. Unless the group and sort out the messy looking partnership, the future of the Yotaphone series looks to be in jeopardy.

Are you excited or intrigued by the prospect of the Yota 3, or is the phone’s hardware simply too uninspired to capture your interest?

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