Russian technology firm Yandex has unveiled its first smartphone.
Branded as Yandex.Phone, the device is fully powered by Yandex’s intelligent assistant Alice, which is the most widespread AI assistant in the Russian market. It comes preinstalled with a suite of mobile services from the Yandex ecosystem.
Yandex’s smartphone uses AI to deliver a highly personalised mobile experience based on the users’ location, routine, and their usage pattern. For example, the phone can provide traffic updates for commuters in the morning along with turn-by-turn navigation from Yandex.Maps, as well as suggest a personalized Yandex.Music playlist for the journey, or send forecast updates from Yandex.Weather.
While mobile users have been able to utilise Alice for Yandex services on other devices, Yandex.Phone is the first smartphone in Russia in which the AI assistant can be used across the majority of apps and services. Regardless of what they’re doing on the phone, users can have Alice manage everyday tasks for them. For example, Alice can add an event to one’s calendar without any interruption while they’re watching a movie or playing a game. Users will also be able to interact with Alice remotely, as the assistant will respond to voice prompts when within range of the user.
Yandex.Phone users have access to over 34,000 existing Alice skills to help with tasks such as ordering food, booking flights, and calling a taxi. With the introduction of Yandex.Phone, Alice can now also place voice calls for users. Through the Yandex.Dialogues skills platform, third-party developers have created thousands of skills for Alice, with more being developed every day.
The Alice-powered smartphone is also fully integrated with Yandex Business Directory, which provides users with a comprehensive list of businesses across Russia and includes detailed information and search options for goods and services. This feature allows Yandex.Phone to easily identify unknown business callers or contact a business simply by entering the name of a company or a service into the phone’s search function.
“Yandex.Phone is built to offer Russian users a smartphone equipped with all the localised tools needed for users to navigate their daily routines. Users can interact with Alice and the most widely used Yandex applications in a new way on this phone,” says Fedor Yezhov, Corporate Vice President of Ecosystem Products at Yandex.
With the purchase of a Yandex.Phone, owners will receive a free six-month subscription to Yandex.Plus, which provides unlimited access to Yandex.Music and discounts for Yandex.Taxi and Yandex.Drive. Yandex.Phone buyers will also receive a 300 rouble credit for Yandex.Taxi and 500 roubles for their Yandex.Money account, along with 10% cash back on purchases made with Yandex.Money for three months.
Yandex.Phone runs Android 8.1 and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor. It features a 5.65-inch Full HD+ screen with a 2160x1080 resolution. A fingerprint sensor lets the user unlock their phone with just a touch, while the NFC technology enables contactless payments. The Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec ensures quality sound for gaming and streaming video and music. Yandex.Phone is also equipped with dual rear 12 MP and 5 MP cameras and a 5 MP front camera.
Yandex.Phone will cost 17,990 roubles ($270) and will be available on December 6 at the Yandex Store at the company’s headquarters in Moscow. On December 7, Yandex.Phone will be available through Beeline, one of Russia’s leading telecommunications providers, and at M.Video and Eldorado retail electronics stores. Users will also be able to buy the phone on December 7 through Yandex’s new Beru e-commerce marketplace.