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What Is E Ink and How it Works

what is e ink and how it works

Traditionally, tablets have had LCD screens, and eReaders have had screens enabled with something called E Ink. Those who know about their eReaders might already know what makes an E Ink display unique.

To put it in very plain terms, E Ink is an electronic technology through which digital displays more accurately emulate actual paper as well as the text on it – in fact, it’s said to use the same pigments as utilized in the actual printing industry today.

An E Ink phone or an E Ink tablet, then, is an impossible-sounding meeting point between both analog and digital, old and new, unmoving and dynamic.

Reduce Digital Eyestrain With E Ink

The world is waking up to the dangers of the blue light displays that surround us, either in smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

This artificial light affects sleep, causing tiredness and headaches, and has also been seen to possibly contribute to cancer, obesity, and heart disease.

This is where E Ink tablets come into the picture. These eReaders remove the troubles associated with glare, hence the experience of something equitable to actual paper. They reflect the ambient light in the environment where the E Ink display is, making it more akin to reading a physical book.

How Else is an E Ink Display Different From an LCD?

For starters, color E Ink displays are rare, meaning they’re designed to be ideal at displaying black-and-white/gray scale text.

The refresh rate on an LCD is higher, meaning faster animation, cleaner and crisper interfaces, and the ability to watch media and play games.

All this is stripped back from an E Ink tablet to keep the focus solely on the text. Also gone is the backlight that the LCD depends on, again helping to reduce eyestrain, and – as previously mentioned – no glare in the sun or from bright lights on the screen, making you feel just like you’re reading an actual paper-bound book.

The integrated light in many newer E Ink tablet models, such as the Kindle Paperwhite, is also a huge plus. The light isn’t backlit and hence isn’t intrusive or bright enough to burn into your retinas. The light hits the screen directly, making it as close to a natural source of light as possible.

eReaders that utilize E Ink displays are also (usually) significantly cheaper than most tablet devices, be it an iPad or an Android. This is because they’re functionally dedicated, allowing them to be user-focused and cost-effective.

Their low price is even better once you realize that, for readers, the battery life is much more effective than on any other device. Amazon’s aforementioned Kindle Paperwhite is advertised as having a battery life of eight weeks(!), meaning it’s perfect for on-the-go reading, way more than any other smartphones or tablets, no matter how top-of-the-shelf their battery is.

How Does E Ink Work?

By this point, you might be wondering just how the E Ink technology works. Let us explain in a way that’s as simple as it is scientific; after all, the process is a straightforward (but ingenious) amalgamation of simple mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

The breakthrough technology devised and deployed by the E Ink company is their microcapsule system. The E Ink is made up of microcapsules as tiny as the diameter of a single human hair, each charged with positive white particles and negative black particles suspended until an electric field is applied.

Depending on the electric field being either positive or negative, the corresponding particles move out of their clear fluid housing to the top of the microcapsule, making the display at that point appear white or black to the user’s naked eye.

Is There Such a Thing as an E Ink Phone?

You may have heard of eReaders making a comeback. Owing to their increased popularity, it seems that smartphone companies are getting hip to the utility of E Ink displays, leading to E Ink phones being the new trend.

While the first E Ink phone came out in 2012, with a full-color screen and another E Ink display on the back, it took the cost of octa-core processors to come down for E Ink phones to be considered viable. However, E Ink phones have and will continue to target niche markets only.

In 2019 Kingrow K1 was launched, a crowd-funded E Ink phone with a standby time of over 400 hours, and a 5-inch E Ink HD display. Two stereo speakers, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 283 PPI display, and an adjustable front-light display make this a smartphone that’s truly unique.

Other E Ink phones currently making the rounds are the LitePhone 2 (Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 Platform, 1GB RAM, and a 91mm x 55mm x 6.5-7.5mm thick design), and the HISense A6.

The HISense A6 comes with a 6.1-inch AMOLED display on the front and a 5.6” E Ink display on the back, with the ability to mirror everything on the E Ink panel, enabled with a touchscreen. It’s backed by 6GB of RAM, 64/128GB storage, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, 12MP/16MP cameras on the rear and front, respectively, a 3300 mAh battery, facial and fingerprint recognition and a USB-C port with Quick Charge.


Let us now catch our breath while simultaneously reflecting at the marvels of how far technology’s come – E Ink displays and E Ink phones are a testament to the growing awareness of the consumer market and their want for more exciting and user-oriented products.

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