Russian internet giant Yandex launched its first smartphone on Wednesday in a highly anticipated move into hardware that builds on its popular service apps. The company behind the most widely used search engine in Russia and the ex-Soviet region has recently diversified to defend its market share against Google. Like its US rival, it has created a range of popular phone apps for services from taxi-hailing to ordering takeaway food. The new smartphone, called Yandex.Phone, will go on sale on Thursday in Russia and online. It will cost 17,990 rubles ($269) — less than similar phones from competitors Apple and Samsung — and will work with the Android system. While the design was created by Yandex, the phone is made in China. Yandex’s various apps for payment, music, maps, taxi and food are pre-installed on the phone, which will also use a smart speaker called Alice (Alisa in Russian), which uses artificial intelligence and is similar to Amazon’s Alexa.

“We built Yandex.Phone to o...

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