Chinese electronic company Hisense is introducing a new line of smartphones featuring color E Ink displays.

The Hisense A5C is a budge Android phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor, 4GB of RAM. But its standout feature is the phone’s 5.84 inch color E Ink display. The Hisense A5C  goes on sale in China August 29th for about $240.

Later this year it’ll be joined by two more models — the Hisense A5 Pro (with a black and white display) and Hisense A5 Pro CC (with color).

Update: The smartphones are up for pre-order in China from JD.com

All three models have the same electronic paper display which, like all E Ink screens, is a high-contrast, low-power display that only uses electricity when the image on the screen is changed. That means you can display a static image indefinitely — so if we’re ever at the point where you might want to ravel again, you can load up a boarding pass and leave it on the screen even if your phone’s battery dies.

But while most E Ink screens on the market are black and white displays that can only show 16 shades of gray, the Hisense A5 series phones have ePaper displays that support 4,096 different colors.

That should make these screens good not only for reading documents, but also for viewing photos and color graphics and interacting with Android apps and games — as long as you’re cool with the relatively slow screen refresh rate that comes with most E Ink displays.

You’re probably not going to want a Hisense A5 series phone if you use your phone for watching videos or playing high-action games. But if you’re willing to sacrifice those things for a phone with long battery life and good outdoor visibility, the color E Ink display could help. Hisense says the A5C smartphone should get up to 62 hours of battery life with the screen brightness turned all the way up, or 93 hours with it turned off so you can see the screen just using ambient light.

Here’s a run-down of some of the features for each of the new phones:

Hisense A5C

  • 5.84 inch color E Ink display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor (8 x ARM Cortex-A53 up to 2 GHz)
  • Adreno 505 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 5MP front camera
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • 1,699 yuan ($240)
  • April 29th availability at JD.com (China)

Hisense A5 Pro Classic

  • 5.84 inch grayscale E Ink display
  • Unisoc T610 processor (2 x 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex A75 + 6 x 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A55)
  • Mali-G52 MP2 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 5MP front camera
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • Fingerprint reader
  • NFC
  • 1,599 yuan ($225)
  • June 10th availability at JD.com (China)

Hisense A5 Pro CC

  • 5.84 inch color E Ink display (with faster refresh rate)
  • Unisoc T610 processor (2 x 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex A75 + 6 x 1.8 GHZ ARM Cortex-A55)
  • Mali-G52 MP2 GPU
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 5MP front camera
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • 4GB/64GB for 1,799 yuan ($255)
  • 6GB/128GB for 1,999 yuan ($280)
  • June 1st availability at JD.com (China)

There’s no word on if or when these phones will be made available outside of China through official channels — but some sellers to have a habit of shipping devices like this to international customers. Case in point: you can currently pick up a first-gen Hisense A5 with a 5.84 inch grayscale E Ink display from AliExpress for as little as $178. It’ll have limited support for North American wireless networks, but at that price you could use it as a pocket-sized eReader.

via Unisoc press release, Sparrow News, TechNave, and abacusnews

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  1. I wonder if the backlight comes with temperature control? That is — can you make it more red at night, and more blue during the day? Does anyone know?

  2. These are beautiful. Wish someone like moto would order a batch with us frequencies, rebrand and ship with google play.

    1. I’m GUESSING it’s whatever results in 300 ppi since that’s what I’ve seen mentioned for the colour e-readers.

      But of course that’s a personal assumption

  3. I think this kind of phone can be great for traveling. And not just the boarding pass bit.

    They should be unlocked so any SIM should work. You can use it to check stuff while outside easily (like the map to that place you read about online and want to see), check reviews when trying to decide where to eat, and don’t have to worry that you haven’t been back to the hotel to charge it.

    But if your normal phone is better than a budget phone you should also take that with you for pictures, I’m guessing that even if this has a decent camera (which at this price range is never guaranteed), the e-ink screen would make the experience subpar.

    Also Brad, e-ink screens have some refresh rates, not android phones in general (everything okay? I’ve been seeing more of this kind of mistake which goes beyond a typo recently, I’d say maybe you were going stir-crazy and couldn’t focus but as your said, your routines haven’t changed much with the virus).

    1. You clearly underestimate my capacity for mental typos on a good day (where the words are correctly displayed, but I was probably distracted while typing and the wrong thing came out).

      Anyway, thanks for the heads up — if nobody let me know about these mistakes, then I wouldn’t know to fix them!

      Also — yeah, I seriously doubt this thing would be an ideal phone for shooting photos. It’d be silly to put a high-end camera in a device with such a lousy viewfinder.