E-Ink Smartphone Prototype Unveiled

Onyx International, a company who is known for manufacturing and selling the Boox ebook readers, has unveiled a prototype smartphone that has an E ink display for a screen. The new smartphone prototype is being marketed as a way of addressing a known weakness of smartphones – its display.

Smartphone displays are known power guzzlers. They eat up most of the smartphone battery’s power. This is especially true for high resolution displays like AMOLED screens. This is the reason why smartphones need to recharged constantly. Onyx thinks an E ink display for a smartphone is, well, smart.

The prototype phone runs a heavily modified Android operating system that can run on a monochrome screen but without losing its basic functionalities. Based on a released video that showed the smartphone prototype being run through its paces, it does work quite well. In the video, the Onyx smartphone was used side by side with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which has a super AMOLED screen, under direct sunlight. The Galaxy Nexus looked like it was turned off – nothing can be seen on the screen. The Onyx smartphone, on the other hand, was very readable. The Onyx’s screen’s performance is not surprising given that extreme readability even in bright sunlight is the main selling point of E ink screens.

Onyx has said that their smartphone prototype can go on standby for more than a week, which is unprecedented battery life for a smartphone. Of course, the big disadvantage of an E ink screen is at night, which is where lighted screens, well, shine.

There is no information given on when this phone will become available and what it will sell for.