Friday will go down as a sad day, at least in my book. Yota Devices, the Russian company behind the dual-screen Android YotaPhones, announced that they will not be releasing the device in the U.S. after all. If you are not familiar with the device, it is easily one of the most interesting phones out there. Here is what I wrote back in March:
The main selling point of the device is the dual-screen design. The main screen has a 5” AMOLED Full HD 1920×1080 display. The second screen is an always-on, 4.7” Electronic Paper Display, with a 960×540 resolution.
Yota Devices launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund bringing the YotaPhone 2 to the U.S. earlier this summer. In total, the campaign raised just a hair under $300,000, or 572% of the funding goal. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, with the company still on target to hit the August shipping date. However, on Friday Yota Devices announced that they would be canceling the launch of the U.S. version of the YotaPhone 2. Backers have two choices: either get a full refund, or receive the international version of the phone, which lacks LTE capability and can only be activated on the T-Mobile and AT&T network.
In an email to backers, obtained by The Verge, the company cited delays in production and logistics problems from the manufacturer. The problems would have delayed the shipping of the device by so long that the company did not think it fair to the backers:
The reason for our cancelled launch is due to unforeseen delays including both production and delivery of the North American variant of YotaPhone 2 from our manufacturer. This despite spending months finalizing and securing the deal to bring to life the North American variant of YotaPhone 2, and when we launched this campaign we were confident our supplier would be able to follow through with their commitment. This was a shock to everyone at Yota Devices, and our leadership team, including our CEO, met with the manufacturer last week in a last-ditch effort to find a solution but the logistics were insurmountable and the device would simply arrive too late. In turn, we believe that the likelihood of a severe delay in these shipments would have created a conflict with our international road map for 2016, leaving Indiegogo supporters behind when customers in other regions will be offered a newer, cheaper and better YotaPhone.1
This is a major bummer. I have been covering this device since the launch of the original YotaPhone way back in 2013, to the announcement of the YotaPhone 2 at Mobile World Congress in 2014, to the rumors of an Indiegogo campaign. I have had a chance to use the device on many different occasions, and was more impressed ever single time. While this news is quite a let down, there is a silver lining. The email went on to note that the company still has plans for North America, just delayed:
The good news is that, as a result of our growth, we are bringing on a new manufacturing partner who can support the scalability we need in order to quickly bring YotaPhone to various regions around the world, including North America.2