E Ink has long been lauded as a versatile, universally legible display technology, making appearances in NOOK tablets, Amazon Kindle devices, and a couple of weird prototypes over the years.

Onyx International, a manufacturer of ebook readers, has evidently created a prototype smartphone – powered by Android – that uses a full E Ink display.


The phone you see above is apparently the only prototype of this device in existence (so far). While the specs aren't named, we can see that the device is running Android Gingerbread, and not without its issues. Of course, as a – presumably – unfinished device, bugs are to be expected. It is noted that Onyx will be working on the screen's refresh rate which, right now, is "not so good."

Obviously the appeal to a smartphone like this, besides legibility in bright light, would be its battery life. Onyx's E Ink smartphone has a quoted battery life of up to one month (which the e-Book Reader notes is a bit of a stretch – the real life is about a week), an amazing lifespan for a smartphone battery when most consider 2 days of battery life a dream.

image image

Without further ado, here's a (seven-minute) video of the device courtesy of Arm Devices' Charbax:

Thanks, Sean!

via the e-Book Reader

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

    dat lag

    • http://www.facebook.com/duckofdeath Hans Pedersen

      The issues with e-ink is, the screen itself causes a lot of visual lag. The refresh rates often drop a lot because of the way it works. Will be interesting to see if they'll get it user friendly somehow.

    • http://twitter.com/AHHSom Im Real

      Sherlock thats why its a prototype

      • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

        Sherlock, calm yer tits.

  • Laborin_HK

    I like the idea behind a low power "basic" android phone. I mean this way your phone will last much longer and media consumption can come from a tablet.

    Though this type of e-ink seems too slow for an OS. Maybe the Sharp memory displays would be better (faster refresh rates, still relatively low power consumption) or even pixel qi and mirasol...

  • spydie

    Some company has perfected color E-ink (I forget their name). They don't want anything to do with producing products, they are only into R&D. they were hoping some company would buy up their technology and use it in phones and tablets. I saw that a year or two ago, and so far no one is even hinting at it. so WTF? a color smartphone with battery life lasting a week or two? WOW... Take my money... I'll be the first guy in line to get one. But a B&W smartphone just for long battery life? DUHHHHH? is there a market for it? If so, a very narrow niche market that probably won't pay for development.


      only color e-ink i have ever read about was like 16 colors or something like that. It can't run videos because eink can not change colors and manipulate pixels that fast. Where ever you read that was a farce and if it was true please prove me wrong but you won't

    • http://visionaforethought.wordpress.com/ Oflife

      That was a Qualcomm subsidiary called Mirasol. (http://www.qualcomm.com/mirasol) Unless I'm very much mistaken, they gave up.

      If anyone produces a color eInk display that delivers, you know exactly who will buy it up and create a well implemented product that uses it. They are situated in a sunny area of Northern California not far from San Jose and I'm typing this on one of their excellent unibody notebooks.

  • http://twitter.com/louiedog louiedog

    I could see e-ink smartphones replacing dumb phones if the price is right. It'd be great for phone calls, texting, email, music/podcasts, and even basic web browsing. Some types of games, like Words with Friends would work fine. You don't need a GB of RAM and a dual core processor to power tasks like that. Battery life and readability in sunlight would be unmatched.

    • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

      Concur. Would be good for someone like my grandparents. They wouldnt be watching videos or anything on it. Just giving them access to the web, email and a phone that gets a long battery life would be good. This would give them a bit more functionality than the phone they have now without the downsides of poor battery life/visibility.

    • http://twitter.com/jamesbarone97 Alexander Barone

      blackberrys have replaced dumbphones, and certainly no ones going to choose a eink dislay over a blackberry.

  • gspida

    would be nice to have a option to go into eink mode for times that you might rather have that as a display. Kinda like apple iphones night mode. As far as I can tell there is no night mode for android.

  • Bakaouji

    There's no way in hell that's the maximum brightness of the Galaxy Nexus (I own one). Seems more like minimum brightness to me.

    • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

      lol I didn't watch with sound but they said maxiumum brightness? Haha definitely was at minimum

      • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

        Absolutely on maximum. I know how to put brightness to maximum on my phones. You try go out in the direct sun and use any camera to film your phone, you can't capture anything. Especially if you film text on paper or an e ink e-reader just next to it.

    • Larkhillv

      Agreed. My GNex isn't very bright in direct sunlight, but there is no way it's THAT dim. While walking outside, I can still see everything on my screen, read articles, etc. That guy has his on 50% brightness, max.

  • http://twitter.com/psych2L Joseph Lee

    great, now I want an e-ink theme from my color android phone lol

  • anzensepp1987

    I think that such a shiny glass on top of the fantastic e-ink-display would be sort of blasphemic.

  • bowker678

    I think this would be good for business users that just need to send emails on the go and occasional web browsing, as long as the price is relatively low.

  • IncCo

    Looks pretty cool, could be useful for people who spend loads of time outdoors and in the sun.

  • Joachim Geeraert

    GPS. Make sure it has GPS. And rugged.

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    lol, interesting device, but this has to be one of the most embarrassingly bad demo videos i've seen in a while

  • aku

    Would be an excellent product for business users since most businesses don't want their employees playing games on their phones anyways and usually hand them out for basic functions such as phone calls, emails, schedules and business related web browsing.

  • http://twitter.com/namd88 Nam Dang

    I'm looking forward to an e-ink smartphone. But based on what I understand from the technology, it's extremely difficult to achieve high frame rates or good color range. Still I believe that someday we'll be there :-)

  • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

    "Maximum Brightness" in a SAMOLED, specially the screen on the GN is almost an oxymoron, the screen is really dim. In fact, all SAMOLED screen seem to be very dim, I've yet to find a bright SAMOLED screen.

  • http://twitter.com/bjurn (¯`*•. Bjurn .•*´¯)

    wow. I realy like e ink phones. Would be great to see an android version of my Motorola F3 (first e ink phone).