E-Ink Phone Would Offer An Old School Alternative To The iPhone

E-Ink Phone Would Offer An Old School Alternative To The iPhone

FormNation designs concept smartphone that lasts one month on a single charge.

Kiran Umapathy
  • 11 july 2014

NY design consultancy FormNation has always strived to improve environments through design, choosing to work on projects they believe in but may never make money. While past initiatives have included breeding chairs and new tax forms, the latest challenge for Dutch-born designer Jan Habraken and his team has been reimagining something many of us use every day, our iPhones.

As successful as the iPhone is, two areas many consider lacking are the battery life and price. With that in mind, the team designed an e-ink prototype that lasts a full month on a single charge, is affordable and still performs truly necessary tasks. Another advantage of the FormNation E-Ink phone is the elimination of screen glare, akin to what consumers are used to seeing on Kindle devices. It retains many popular functions of other smartphones including calls, email, texting, internet, music and maps.


While FormNation acknowledges the limitations of its device include a lack of color and inability to provide fluid motion graphics, it admits the device wasn’t created to please everyone and puts basic functionality and style at the forefront.

“Do we really need angry birds or flying pigs?” Habraken asks. “While to some E-Ink might seem like reverting from HDTV to black and white, we see this as the difference in beauty between full color and black and white photography.”

Habraken and his team insist they approach the differences by looking to turn perceived disadvantages into positive elements. “Instead of using the Illford filter in Instagram to convert your color photographs into black and white beauties, our E-Ink phone creates instant black and white images,” he adds. The phone also pays homage to 35mm cameras as a shutter closes to capture the scene and creates stop motion GIFs instead of regular video. They see these sacrifices as stylistic features.


Because this is a self-initiated project to explore design, there is no pending release date, but FormNation hopes to start conversations with potential manufacturers. The target price range of the phone would be $175-$200.



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