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This E Ink Smartphone Might Actually Be A Great Idea

Sure, it can't show video, or scroll that well. But as a long-lasting alternative to a dumbphone, it sort of makes sense!

Posted on October 22, 2012, at 11:51 a.m. ET

This is a prototype E Ink smartphone, from a Chinese company called Onyx:

View this video on YouTube


Unlike a normal LCD phone, its screen is visible in the sun:

That's because it uses the same screen technology as the Kindle:

This means it's slow, and the screen blinks:

And scrolling isn't that smooth (though it could be worse!):

But also that the phone's battery may last up to a week. Not bad for an Android handset:

There are no firm manufacturing or sale plans for this handset, but I find it weirdly compelling — not as a primary device, but as a sort of backup or travel phone. I might use it the way I occasionally use my old Nokia candybar phone: as a basic communications tool that doesn't die after 10 hours, and, in this case, can do quite a bit more than make a phone call.

Think about it! Video and gaming are out, of course. But browsing and certain types of app navigation could be fixed with pagination. Calling, texting, Tweeting and Facebooking would all be easy, and reading might actually be improved over a comparable LCD. Make it sub-$300 off contract and I might be sold.

You can read more about the device here.