Callum BoothManaging Editor
Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional odd video.
Let me say this loud and clear: I’m totally fucking hyped for a future where we have color e-ink phones.
Why this statement? And why now? Well it’s all down to Hisense, a Chinese tech company, announcing the launch of the world’s first color e-ink phone at this year’s CES. Pretty exciting stuff, right? RIGHT?
Previously, mobiles with e-ink displays have only been in black-and-white, or have secondary screens using the technology on the rear — so this is a big deal. According to a report on cnTechPost, the Hisense color e-ink phone will be able to display 4096 colors and will have a long battery life, due to the screen’s low energy consumption. And, like other e-ink screens, it will continue to display when the power is turned off.
Here’s a picture of the phone for you to savor:
So, here’s a question: Will this Hisense device be any good? And, as is my wont, let me answer it for you: No. Definitely not. No fucking chance.
While the technology behind the phone is impressive, there’s no way the screen’s response time can compete with the OLED or LCD displays that pepper pretty much every phone.
But that shouldn’t be the point.
E-ink will never, ever be as fast, responsive, or rich as other screen technologies — so companies should stop trying to make devices that try and act like normal phones. Instead, the technology should forge its own path.
Now anyone who has ever used a Kindle or another similar bit of tech can attest to just how natural reading on them feels; it really is akin to book. This is a far cry from screens that constantly refresh (AKA all of them). Hell, even to this day, I find reading longform articles and books on my phone a hassle, as the display makes the experience uncomfortable.
So, and this is a simple suggestion, why not use this color e-ink technology to make a reading media phone? Create a device that’s tailored towards people who want to consume books, magazines, and graphic novels. It would have a big screen, a long battery life, and would be perfect.
Hell, it’d be a perfect antidote to our modern, attention-sucking world. A color e-ink phone would be an analogue version of digital tech. You could still do the important things (send messages, take phone calls, and follow a map), but it wouldn’t be designed for tasks like watching videos of browing TikTok.
God, it makes me so excited. I want to read the latest issue of Saga on the bus. I want to flick through a boutique magazine during my lunch break. I want to read a book on my way to work. And I want to do it all with a color e-ink device that doesn’t distract me with stupid shit.
Will it happen? Who knows — but the Hisense color e-ink phone is the first step towards my dream becoming reality. E-ink seems to be gathering steam again, and, for that alone, I’m fucking pumped.
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