While it’s not a Google Pixel by any means and instead focuses on the entry-level market, the Yandex.phone does ship with Android 8.1. It also comes preloaded with a lot of Yandex features, including Alice, the company’s equivalent of Google Assistant.
Because Yandex is the top search engine on Android devices in Russia and has expanded into all corners of the digital land, all that data turned into Alice makes it quite the competent virtual assistant, with 34,000 skills and the ability to understand Russian almost perfectly.
“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,” says the company.
The Yandex.phone is definitely a welcome entry on the Russian market and will probably provide stiff competition to Google on budget devices, since it will retail for 17,990 rubles (around $270).
Of course, that means the hardware won’t be turning any heads. The Yandex.phone has a 5.65 full HD+ screen, NFC for contactless payments and a fingerprint sensor on the back. The front camera is only 5 MP but the back features a decent 12 MP + 5 MP combo.
The processing power is provided by a Snapdragon 630 chipset, though Yandex hasn’t revealed what to expect in terms of RAM.
Russian buyers will find out soon enough, as the Yandex.phone goes on sale on December 7, both online and in brick and mortar stores.