The big picture: Yandex is ultimately following along with Google's strategy of making it easy to access services that generate more revenue. Hardware can be a valuable business by itself, but not when margins are slim and the competition is high.
Russian search engine company Yandex has decided it too must release more hardware so that its users can be even more entwined in services that generate ad revenue. Called Yandex.Phone, the budget Android offering brings only basic features and an onslaught of Yandex apps.
Of course, what would a smartphone be these days without a custom digital assistant? Alice is Yandex's own virtual helper that understands Russian with almost human levels of accuracy. There are now around 34,000 different skills that Alice can perform.
After launching its own app store in 2012, Yandex has already become more widely used than Google in Russia on Android devices. The company has also overtaken Google on desktop searches in Russia.
Phone specs are fairly average, but a $270 price point (17,990 rubles) gives plenty of reasons for compromises made. A 5.65-inch Full HD+ IPS panel shows all that Android 8.1 has to offer with Yandex's own launcher. Dual 12MP and 5MP rear cameras along with a 5MP camera will provide adequate photography. Expandable storage is also present along side the 64GB of internal storage.
A Snapdragon 630 paired with 4GB of memory may not be all that impressive, but again, expectations need to match the price point. A 3,050mAh battery is capable of being fast charged with Quick Charge 3.0. Also, there is a 3.5mm headphone and USB-C port on the device.
Yandex.Phone launches on December 6 at the company's headquarters in Moscow, but will then become available a day later from Beeline, a major Russian carrier. M.Video and Eldorado retail stores will also be selling the device. Yandex also has Beru, its own e-commerce platform, where it will put its new phone up for sale.