OAXIS has followed up its earlier attempt at an e-ink smartphone case with a new take on the concept which was unveiled at the ongoing MWC event. The InkCase Lite adds a secondary 3.5 inch 360 X 600 resolution Mobius e-ink display at the rear. It comes with its own battery and CPU which means it does not have to poach on the resources of the smartphone it is clamped on to. Also, this makes the system easy to use as well as there are no tech wizardry to deal with. The cases just have to be fitted with the matching smartphone and those will be ready for use. These communicate with the smartphone via Bluetooth.
What is even better this time is that OAXIS has stated they have enhanced the scope of the smartphone case this time, which means the InkCase Lite will be compatible with all smartphones currently available. That no doubt is a tall ask but at least the better known devices should come under the purview of the new case. In its first avatar, the InkCase Lite was limited to just the iPhone 5, Galaxy S4 and the Note 2 device which attracted a fair bit of criticism.
However, no matter how exciting the concept might sound, there is also no denying the fact that the add-on case does add some bulk to the smartphone. The lack of suitable apps to make the most of the secondary e-ink display also negated all the good things that the e-ink display could have introduced. The best we can have right now is EpiReader which can be used to read ebooks on the e-ink display. The EpiReader can also be used to engrave the display with a favorite quote. Similarly, the app InkCase Photo enables users to fillup the e-ink display with a photo while InkCase Sports can be used to make the display work as a sports timer. The Singpore company has also stated they are making available the InkCase/Lite SDK for developers to explore other ways to make the most of the secondary e-ink display.
Pricing remains a mystery right now, even more so now that the case has been made compatible with more smartphones this time. In any case it can’t be expected to be cheap either given the InkCase i5 now costs $149. With dedicated e-ink readers such as the Kindle ($69) or the Kindle Paperwhite ($119) being much cheaper than that, the choice could boil down to a cheaper but a bigger full-fledged ebook reader or a smaller and hence more portable smartphone add-on that costs a bit more.