The luxury e-reader maker launches a color e-ink smartphone and I can’t wait to try it


The smartphone display field is dominated by LCD and OLED technologies. Although each works on slightly different principles, they both work by emitting different colors of light. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach to display technology, but it’s not the only paradigm. On the other end of the spectrum is reflective display technology, which works by using ambient light to illuminate the display. The world of reflective displays is dominated by one company – E Ink – and so far, only one company has released a smartphone with an E Ink screen, but that may change this year.



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Until now, if you wanted a smartphone with an e-ink display, your only option was Hisense (known in the US for its TVs and projectors), and the only way to get one was to import it from China and Coping with unstable cell connections. But now, Bigme, one of the world’s largest luxury e-reader makers, is preparing to launch as many as four E Ink smartphones this year, two of which will be color.

We don’t have much information yet, but we do have a rough idea of ​​how much the phone will cost and some of the tech included in it. Bigme is calling its phone HiBreak, and it will have a 5.84-inch screen (about the size of a Pixel 4a). There will be two different processor options, each with black and white and color versions. The more basic model will feature an octa-core MediaTek Helio P35 running at up to 2.3GHz, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and run Android 11. The frequency is 2.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage space, and runs Android 14.


From the renders in the video, it looks like the phone will have a USB-C charging port, a camera with flash on the back, and another camera on the front. Interestingly, the 6nm Dimensity 900 chip can support shooting up to 108MP images and can record in 4K HDR, which seems like a lot for an E Ink phone. On the other hand, the Helio P35 can only support images up to 25MP. Sadly, there’s no sign of a headphone jack.

Pricing for the HiBreak has yet to be determined, but the basic black and white model could retail for as low as $220. Demand for the HiBreak is likely to be high, given that the Hisense A9 retails for about $400 and the Boox Palma (which has similar specs but doesn’t have cellular connectivity) sells for $280. Even Bigme’s most expensive price forecast, which puts the premium color phone in the $450 range, makes the HiBreak competitive.


MediaTek P35

Tianwei 900

color

$249–$339

$369–$459

black and white

$219–$309

$339–$429

E Ink is sure to make a splash this year. The release of the Kobo Libra Color and Clara Color revolutionized the general perception of color e-ink by bringing the cost down to under $200, and Kobo’s sales have been so good that it’s hard to keep up. There’s also a lot of hype surrounding The Minimal Phone, a BlackBerry clone with an e-ink screen that’s fully funded on Indiegogo and could start shipping as early as September. Mudita already has its own e-ink phone on the market (Pure, a dumb phone that costs over $300) and is preparing to launch an e-ink smartphone called Kompakt on Kickstarter.

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That’s all we know, so let’s speculate. We’re reasonably certain that the screen on the black and white model will be a Carta 1200, and the color model will have a Kaleido 3 screen. It’s possible we could see an updated Carta 1300, but considering the low price, I don’t think it’s likely. According to the MediaTek page, the Helio P35 will support dual-SIM VoLTE connections and band 71/600MHz connections (this is 5G and only available on T-Mobile). The Dimensity 900’s page suggests it has broad 4G and 5G support, so we’ll probably only see the premium model in the US, if We totally see it. Replying to comments in its launch video about support for U.S. mobile phone bands, a Bigme representative said, “Yes, we’re working on it.” That sounds promising, but it’s definitely not a sure thing.

Now we just have to wait for more details from Bigme. Final prices should be announced within the next two weeks. We don’t have a specific release date for the HiBreak yet, but Bigme tells us that all models are expected to be available before Christmas. I know what I want from Santa this year.




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