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The Google of Russia made an Android phone and it's not a complete dumpster fire

The Yandex.Phone is the Russian search engine's first Android smartphone.

Published onDecember 5, 2018

Yandex.Phone Android smartphone.
  • Russian search engine Yandex announced the Yandex.Phone, the company’s first Android smartphone.
  • The smartphone is the first device to feature Yandex’s Alice voice assistant.
  • The Yandex.Phone will be available starting tomorrow for 17,990 rubles (~$270).

Sometimes referred to as the “Google of Russia,” Russian search engine Yandex officially entered the Android smartphone market today with the originally-named Yandex.Phone.

The Yandex.Phone features a 5.65-inch display with Full HD+ (2,160 x 1,080) resolution, 5-megapixel front camera, dual rear 16MP and 5MP cameras, rear fingerprint sensor, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 chipset. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo, though Android 9 Pie would have been much nicer to see.

As surprisingly decent as the Yandex.Phone’s specifications are, the real story is with the software. When we say that Yandex is the Google of Russia, that is not a joke — in addition to search, Yandex has its own music, taxi, cloud, maps, and wallet platforms. Yandex even has its own Android app store and e-commerce site.

All of the aforementioned services are predictably front and center on the Yandex.Phone. The services are also brought together by Alice, Yandex’ virtual assistant that is making its debut on the Yandex.Phone.

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According to Yandex, Alice features over 34,000 localized skills that let you do everything from order food and book flights to find local business and providers. You can also use Alice to place calls and identify unknown business callers.

Overall, the Yandex.Phone acts as a mid-range conduit to Yandex’ sprawling ecosystem. That is not dissimilar to how Amazon, Google, and Apple treat their devices and they’re doing just fine.

The Yandex.Phone will be available starting tomorrow through the Yandex Store for 17,990 rubles (~$270). The phone will then be available through Yandex’ Beru e-commerce site and other local retailers this Friday, December 7.