Chinese electronics maker Hisense has been long working with e-ink displays. Last year, the company launched the Hisense A5 smartphone, a compact Kindle alternative featuring a 5.83-inch monochrome e-ink display.
It has now gone a step further to unveil the first-ever smartphone featuring a color e-ink display. The company demoed this pre-production handset at the just concluded CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
Unlike LCD or OLED displays found on our smartphones, e-ink displays don't consume as much battery as they only need power when the image on the display changes. They are also easy on our eyes and have excellent outdoor visibility.
However, e-ink displays do have their own downsides. They suffer from slow refresh rates and ghosting, where traces of previously displayed images remain on the screen for some time.
Monochrome e-ink displays are already slow and adding the complication of color isn't going to help in any way. This device, however, reportedly features improved contrast and refresh rates compared to last year's A5.
Hisense might have cracked the refresh rate problem to some extent, but don't expect things to be in the range of 60Hz to 120Hz, which is a norm in modern smartphones, just yet. It also remains to be seen how bumping up the refresh rate affects power consumption.
Hisense demos color e-ink display
Hisense didn't reveal much about its upcoming color e-ink smartphone. However, Android Police managed to get their hands on the device at CES, and not surprisingly, the screen refresh rate is low. They say any kind of motion on the screen looks like a slide show.
The colors look dull as well, though the device is said to be capable of reproducing 4096 colors. Battery life is said to be up to four days. It'll surely be affected if the device is used much in dark environments as the screen's backlight would come into effect.
This hands-on video of the device clearly shows how slow the screen refresh rate is and how bland the colors look.
These displays aren't really meant to be used in mainstream devices, at least not in place of regular displays. They are still best used in e-book devices.
That said, this device could still be useful for people looking to get a simple phone with a long battery life. It is not an ideal phone for watching video, playing games, or photography though.
Hisense didn't announce a time frame for the launch of this phone. It's not even clear if it will be announced at all.