Smartphones are getting bigger day by day. Recently, 5 inch 1080p displays have become a standard and almost all smartphone manufacturers are launching a device with this kind of display. In order to run big displays with high amount of resolution, you’ll also need bigger battery. Sadly, the battery technology hasn’t advanced enough in the recent past, and even if it has, it will take some time for it to get into the mass market.
In the meantime, a new device was showcased at the Mobile World Congress 2013 that is taking place in Barcelona this week. The smartphone device runs Android, but what sets it apart from the crowd of Android phones is that it has an e-ink display.
What’s eink display? Well, it’s basically a paper like display and has been used in devices such as Kindle ebook reader, and hence it is a fairly popular technology. How does it function?
“E Ink technology works by using tiny microcapsules that are suspended in liquid placed within a film-like layer. The microcapsules, which are about the same width as human hair, contain both positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. Applying a negative electrical field causes the white particles to come to the surface. Conversely, applying a positive electrical field causes the black particles to come to the surface. By applying different fields at various parts of a screen, E Ink can produce a text display.” – About.com
The advantage of using eink display on a portable device has got to be the extremely low power consumption values. The device shown at MWC 2013, it costs EUR 150 (~$197), so if you don’t care about having FHD or HD screen on your Android smartphone, this could be the device you are looking for. This device is essentially a proof-of-concept device, and the company has manufactured only a handful of them, so the device isn’t named and runs on a golden oldie Android gingerbread. What’s impressive about this device is that it offers a week of battery life. Android powered smartphones are always criticized for having low battery life because the OS isn’t the best when it comes to power management. This device is a good answer for such criticism, though the screen can reproduce content only in gray scale.
When you are outdoors, the screen is as visible as a sheet of paper. Also, the phone is feather light. Consumers today use their smartphone for media extensive applications, so e-ink may not survive such competition. On the other hand, many a times we just switch on the screen of the smartphone in order to glance at information such as time. Such kind of tasks drain battery and eink displays could be used as secondary displays on back of the phone.
According to Nicholas Charbonnier, the proprietor of ARMdevices.net, “E Ink is working with hardware partners not only to bring full-fledged E Ink smartphones to market, but also to develop E Ink back panels for popular phones with removable backs. The end products, which could cost as little as $50, would be replace users’ existing battery covers with ones that had E Ink screens.”
What are your thoughts on E Ink displays? Let us know.