In this post I will explain why dual screen phones don’t need to exist, how they could be improved and what you compromise by choosing one.
Yotaphone & e-ink
I’m on my second dual screen phone, first up was the Yotaphone which suffered on a few counts. Firstly the e-ink display was painfully slow and secondly when you locked the phone it would cause the content on the e-ink screen to change. The e-ink would also change when power to the device dropped low. The main obvious functionality for e-ink is to handle very basic operations should your power go low. Both of my Yotaphones failed with poor build quality was an issue that I’m skeptical Yotaphone ever addressed. The Yotaphone did have NFC but the antenna performance was clearly compromised by the screens.
Vivo Nex & Dual LCD
The Vivo Nex absolutely nailed build quality, but made some compromises you can’t really justify in 2019. The biggest one is no NFC. The second is battery life. While the battery life is still flagship worthy it was still a compromise made by Vivo. Having two screens does nearly double the chance you will crack a screen too. For me, this is often a major issue but the Nex has held up really well despite being dropped on hard surfaces a number of times.
The entire front is a screen and as such there is no front facing camera ergo there is no face unlock. While I don’t care for or use this feature it is something that some people might use, probably those less inclined to be mindful about security which may have a strong crossover of people who take frequent selfies…
Surely there is something worthwhile from this?
I’m not a selfie guy and both Vivo and Yota failed to offer any real value to having a screen on the back. I get the impression that most “selfie people” would probably want a product from a more mainstream brand anyway. Just a solid forward facing camera ticks the box for the majority of people.
I feel like at least Yota tried to push the barriers for use cases and I feel like maybe Nex has some features I’m not aware of that might provide value (most of them are just completely pointless and impractical). You would of thought a feature like pinning an app(or more with split screen) to a screen would be good so you can easily copy/paste between apps. The best the Nex has is the ability to draw a “V” which will display a selected image on the front/back/both screens, I guess this might be useful if you want to quickly be able to access something like the QR code / Barcode of a boarding pass or some such…? *Straw clutching intensifies.
I’d rather have a more robust phone with a frame that includes the front facing camera, I’m okay with having a frame, especially if that frame can absorb some impact.
I guess if you take a lot of selfies and consider yourself adventurous with tech then a dual screen device might be the thing for you.
Multi camera video calls.
Picture this; you are having a conversation with your dad and your brother walks in the room and wants to join the conversation.. Well imagine you can turn on two cameras at the same time, one facing you, the other facing your brother and now your dad can see you both but more importantly both you and your brother can see your dad without having to stand side by side… Extend this to talking about a subject matter, let’s say a car, being able to see the car and your facial expressions as you talk about the object might have significant value for the recipient. Technically this might be tricky as I seem to think the getUserMedia APIs require a user is explicit in camera choice for a video stream however creating two independent streams should be doable. Still, while this might the best use case I can think of would it really be critical your brother can see himself / your dad on the call? It’s also worth noting the Nex only has cameras on the rear of the phone so this suggestion is kinda pointless.
The weirdest and worst part of the user experience of any dual screen phone is the fact it has a dual screen and sometimes you will get your phone out and have it the wrong way around. This might seem like a minor gripe but the user experience is just not well enough thought through. Buttons are mirrored so you can’t tell by touch which way around the phone is. Often times I have taken my phone from my pocket, unlocked my screen, realized my phone is the wrong way around then had to turn it around. For this reason it fails the blind & drunk usability test. I have to say that again for most people the finger print reader in the screen is great but as I have mentioned before my life style just doesn’t suit finger print readers.
I can’t think of any reason to buy either of these phones, with much more solid offerings by OnePlus, Nokia, Huawei and Xiaomi I’d much prefer to have working NFC and a more solid device over a second screen and no camera on the front.