Phone Cases with E Ink Screens Fail to Impress

Oaxis Inkcase

Over the past few years there have been a number of attempts to bring E Ink screens to smartphones.

A few different phones have been released like the Yotaphone with two screens, one E Ink and one LCD, and other companies have tried to capitalize on the success of the iPhone and Samsung phones by releasing specialized phone cases with E Ink screens built-in.

E Ink phone cases seemed like they were going to be pretty popular a couple years ago, but overall the concept has failed to take off.

You don’t hear much about E Ink phone cases anymore, and the ones still available have failed to impress customers.

One example, the Oaxis Inkcase sells from Amazon for the iPhone 6 and 7, but they mostly have negative reviews, albeit not many overall.

Most reviews that you find online for the Oaxis Inkcase seem to like the idea in theory, but a lot of people seem to feel the execution of the software falls short so the product ends up not being very useful. There are too many limitations with the app’s software, like only being able to use the included ebook app instead of 3rd party ebook apps, for example.

Integrating E Ink screens with complex software has proven to be a difficult task, the same with Android-based E Ink ereaders, but it seems like E Ink phone cases could still find a niche if their usability catches up with expectations.

What about you? Have you ever wanted an E Ink case for your smartphone?

16 Responses to “Phone Cases with E Ink Screens Fail to Impress”

  1. I would love a nice 2nd eink screen for my phone….

  2. Yikes! Read through the reviews, battery runs out in a few hours… bad apps… no Kindle ebooks… proprietary magnetic cable…

    This one reviewer gave it 5 stars and what he wrote cracked me up:
    “An outstanding case. I can change the wallpaper as a case cover every day. Never met anyone who got the same case.”

    Of course he never met anyone with the same case… nobody else buys them! 😀

  3. Well. It’s interesting.
    But the e-ink screen case is not the main, like yota, it’s in back, and isn’t useful for read epub. Pdf. Fb2. mobi. Bad apps.
    Better a e-Reader phablet phone with only e-ink. For readers. Or by the Money and quality: Kindle, any.
    And Bob says true about this devices.

  4. No, I want a smartphone with e-ink only, if it means battery will last a week

  5. I’m looking at Yotaphones since the first model, but the haven’t convinced me yet – the idea is a good one, and I can see the practical value, but as you say, the software integration of the eInk screen hasn’t been quite there yet. Model 3 is rumored to come out this summer, let’s hope for the best.

    Generally, I like to have as much functionality in a single device as possible, so I leave my ereader at home on day-to-day commutes. But reading on the phone screen eats up the battery charge quite fast – which puts me in jeopardy the next time the train conductor is around or when check-in time finally arrives: An electronic ticket is fine, but only if the electronics can display it. An additional eInk screen seemed to be the best solution for that: using next to no energy, showing the train, plane, movie or contact QR code whenever needed without navigating through apps, saving the battery while reading (books, mail, RSS, notes), displaying something even when the phone is completely off.

    I guess a phone case with a glued-on screen can never do all that seamlessly and practically – it needs some connection which consumes power again, and at least on Android with its very fragmented OS variant landscape can never fully integrate. So my hopes rest on the Yota 3 – and they have to, it’ll soon be time for a new phone anyway..

    • The Yota 2 has pretty good software (on Lollipop) for the eink screen, I can’t really find anything against it. They just upgraded it to Marshmallow (didn’t try yet). For a 3 year old phone that’s pretty good I find.

      You can also use it as a purely eink phone, in super energy saving mode, which only leaves phone dialer, texts, calendar and ebook reader.

      Battery usage in normal mode is meh, I get 2-3 days of normal use, mostly using the color screen. I use it purely as an ereader while hiking and in that use the battery lasts a long time.

      But I find that I rarely use the eink screen in daily use (except to check the time), but I don’t use Twitter or other stuff, only read web pages in Opera Mini, and the readability of Android apps on eink is not so good. You can tune that but didn’t bother to check yet.

      For €130 it’s hard to beat though, even just as an ereader it’s pretty good!

  6. I want a big screen to read books (I already have a Kobo Aura One but would love a bigger screen), not a second e-ink screen for my smartphone

  7. On the flip side of getting a bigger screen e-reader, what is there out there in the way of smaller screen e-readers? I am not talking phones – just e-readers. I seem to recall a 4.3 in one a long time ago and was interested but never acted on one. Having one so small that it could go in a shirt pocket would have its merits.

  8. Just rediscovered Nate’s review of the Pyrus Mini which is the e-reader I had mentioned. It was the perfect size for what I had in mind. There are others who wish it were still made but with a lighted screen. I am guessing there just aren’t enough of us who would want it.

    • I agree. The small size definitely has its benefits. It makes it so easy to take it anywhere. I think it’s a big mistake for Amazon to only offer 6-inch Kindles. I bet 4.3-inch and 8-inch Kindles would be very popular, certainly more than a 6-inch Oasis for $300. No one wants to own two Kindles with the same exact screen, but a lot of readers wouldn’t mind having a couple different sizes for different situations. I think the 7.8-inch Kobo Aura One is the perfect size for reading at home, and a smaller 4.3-inch device like the Pyrus Mini with a plastic screen would be great for reading on the go since it easily fits in a pocket and the plastic would make is super light and durable.

    • I always though this was a cool size as well, but my guess is just that market demand for readers smaller than 6″, just wasn’t strong enough.

      I seem to remember that Kobo also produced a small e-reader for a short time. I almost bought it.

  9. I’d genuinely love an eink feature phone, that integrates Facebook, Twitter, emails etc. And has a battery that could last me a week. But i understand that that’s a bit niche and it would take a lot of confidence to pitch it.

  10. I think e-ink cases are a great idea, pity they couldn’t make it work well.
    As a long-time Yotaphone 2 owner, I highly recommend this phone. The e-ink integration is great (I think Jon was referring to the Yotaphone 1 in his comment). The phone itself has medium specs by today’s standards, the full HD Amoled screen is brilliant, and I like the minimalist Android implementation. The op. system was recently updated to Android 6. The e-ink screen is great in bright places, like for navigation while cycling. You can still buy it for a bargain price on Aliexpress, but only one seller is left, so stock must be running out.
    I am looking forward to Yotaphone 3, but I will probably wait until prices come down.
    Finally, I would like to “thank” Amazon for hogging the patent for dual-screen devices, but not actually making such a device.

  11. Hallo?
    the problem is that amazon bought the licence, so nobody can implement, because the kindle would get harmed.This is why we have yotaphone in russia, or others double lcd eink in china. The idea is just perfect, but big manufacturers as apple, samsung, huawei, lg cannot exploit in eu and USA

    Virtually everybody wants a phone that in emergency situations last more. Not to mention you can read under the sun.And get lost with google maps