We are too glued to our screens and yet almost all the solutions being offered mostly involve quitting cold turkey with a dumber than dumb phone. That may no longer be that practical in this day and age but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer. One answer could come in the form of phones using colored e-paper displays such as the one shown off by Hisense at CES 2020. This phone, which is a significant step up from regular E-Ink displays, could offer a perfect balance of utility and simplicity that could keep people off their phones.
Phones using electronic paper displays are nothing new but most come in the form of dual-screen phones or, like Hisense’ previous products, a black and white phone. That’s mostly because E-paper companies like E-ink haven’t yet been able to mass-produce those rare colored displays. That, however, is quickly changing.
At the end of 2019, E Ink showed off a variety of colored e-paper displays for all sorts of purposes and now Hisense has revealed one such purpose. The company is confident that these displays can be mass-produced on smartphones. The question is whether there will be a market for them.
Color E-Ink phones may finally deliver some life to normally grayscale e-paper but they won’t be able to much the response and fluidity of even the cheapest LCD phone. And that’s perfect when you want to restrict use to the essentials but don’t want to be left out of the loop for too long. While you can’t play games or even watch movies, you can still browse the Web and go on social media. The experience, however, may be so inconvenient you might prefer to keep away until you get to a computer.
And then there are the technical benefits of such a phone, especially long battery life which, in turn, could lead to cheaper prices. It might even lead to a niche market of smartphones designed just for reading not just books but also comics and magazines. Admittedly, though, that use case could also lead to people gluing their faces to their screens even more because it’s more comfortable to read from it.