Most recent smartphones have LCD or OLED screens, but Hisense, a Chinese electronics company, has been producing E Ink devices for a few years. The most recent model is the Hisense A9, which features a 6.1-inch E Ink display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, and up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s available for pre-order in China for 1,799 CNY (about $270).
The starting price is for a device with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but upgrading to 6GB of memory costs only 100 CNY ($15). The screen, which is a greyscale electronic paper display with 300 pixels per inch, distinguishes this phone from most modern phones. The black and white E Ink panels give a paper-like viewing surface that is viewable even in direct sunlight.
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In fact, because E Ink screens are designed to be viewed with ambient light, they often seem better when there is a strong light beaming on them (although, like most modern E Ink devices, the Hisense A9 also has front-lights that shine on the screen to make it easy to see in the dark).
Another benefit is that E Ink displays use far less power than LCD or OLED displays since they only utilise electricity when the imagery on the screen needs to be refreshed. This means that even if your phone’s battery is dead, the phone may display a static image or text indefinitely.
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The phone’s E Ink Carta 1200 display, on the other hand, only offers 16 shades of grey, rather than the millions of colours found on most other smartphone displays. The Hisense A9 also features a modest refresh rate, which is fine for web browsing and simple apps and games but makes it unsuitable for watching videos or playing high-motion games.
The phone comes pre-loaded with Android 11, has UFS 2.1 storage, and has an ES9318 digital audio chip that supports LDAC, AAC, SBC, and Aptx Bluetooth audio codecs. 4G LTE, dual-band Wifi, and Bluetooth 5.0 are all supported on the Hisense A9. The phone is 7.8mm (0.31 inches) thick and weighs 183 grammes (6.5 ounces).
A 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, a side-mounted fingerprint reader, and a 4,000mAh battery are among the other features. While the Hisense A9 is the company’s newest E Ink phone, it’s unclear whether the new model is an enhancement over the previous-generation Hisense A7.
That phone has an older but equivalent Unisoc T7510 chipset, but it also boasts a larger 6.7-inch E Ink display, a larger battery, comparable RAM and storage, and 5G capability. A version with a colour E Ink display is also available. However, while being an older phone, the Hisense A7 is still slightly more expensive. It costs 1,999 CNY ($300) right now.
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