Tired of watching your smartphone’s battery drain away while reading an ebook? Sick of squinting in the sun to read notifications on your glossy screen? Don’t worry, a new Kickstarter project from Oaxis has arrived. The InkCase Plus is a case that adds an E Ink display to your Android smartphone to help you save power and read in full sunlight. If you’ve ever used a Kindle, you know the benefits of E Ink (also called epaper) screens.
Last year at Mobile World Congress, Oaxis introduced a few E Ink display cases for iPhone and select Android devices. Those cases are still available, but this time around, the company wanted to create a more modular case that will allow you to move the energy efficient display in and out of the case at will. The case effectively gives users two different screens that they can use simultaneously or separately.
The InkCase Plus features an always on, black and white display. Oaxis says this E Ink screen offers up to 19 hours of reading time, as opposed to the four hours offered on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Most Android smartphones feature high-resolution, glossy displays that while beautiful, are terrible power hogs. They are also incredibly hard to read in direct sunlight. E Ink displays may not be beautiful, but they sure are serviceable, especially when reading ebooks or or text-based content on your smartphone. They’re also easy to read in full sunlight and don’t suffer from glare the way full-color screens do.
The InkCase Plus aims to add all the benefits of an E Ink display to your smartphone without taking away your beautiful, full-color display when you need it. The case essentially looks like a typical folio case, but it has a cut out in the front where you secure the Kindle-like display. The case is only 5 millimeters thick and adds just 45 grams to the weight of your smartphone, which isn’t too bad, considering you now have two displays.
The InkCase doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it does have a few physical buttons on the front for navigation. It mirrors your smartphone display and can be used to control your music, view notifications, read ebooks, and more.
It’s not a new idea. Russian smartphone maker YotaPhone created a dual-screen smartphone with both an E Ink and full color display. However, this device forced the user to choose between epaper energy savings and full color beauty. The InkCase Plus lets you use both at the same time, though it’s not clear why you’d want to unless you’re a Twitter addict or serial multi-tasker.
The case costs $80 on Kickstarter and the campaign has already exceeded its $100,000 goal. The site says backers will receive their cases in October 2014. Right now, it’s only available for the Samsung Galaxy S5, but Oaxis plans to add cases for more flagship smartphones as soon as possible.