A recent tweet from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo will have e-reader competitors sweating as he hinted at the fact that Apple is taking a close interest in electronic ink screens.
E-Ink technology, used mainly on e-readers, continues to evolve, to the point of gradually becoming colour, a characteristic that experts and analysist believe has resulted in Apple considering adopting it.
Apple is testing E Ink's Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for future foldable device's cover screen & tablet-like applications. The color EPD has the potential to become a mainstream solution for foldable devices' must-have cover/second screen thanks to its excellent power-saving.
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) May 17, 2022
E-Ink recently announced a new colour display with an improved refresh rate called Gallery 3 that is fast enough to enable stylus input.
Gallery 3 is capable of producing more colours at a higher resolution. It can also refresh far quicker than the company’s previous colour screens, although it’s still nowhere near as responsive as an equivalent OLED or LCD panel.
However, E-Ink has been releasing promotional videos showing how the display can be folded or rolled – which would also appeal to Apple.
It is unclear if Kuo was hinting at Apple getting on board with Gallery 3 in his latest tweet, but given the timing of the announcement, it wouldn't be surprising if there was a connection.
Energy-efficient and practical
For Apple, the E-Ink would be ideal for several reasons: not only does this technology consume very little power, but it would also allow it to be integrated into a foldable smartphone.
Existing foldables with secondary screens typically utilise OLED or LCD panels. While these solutions afford superior resolution and responsiveness compared to E-Ink displays, they aren't nearly as energy-efficient as E-Ink panels.
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Observers believe that Apple could be considering E-Ink for the foldable iPhone. In this model, the E-Ink screen could continue to display basic information such as time, notifications, etc. without draining the battery too much.
While Apple’s interest appears to be in the test phase right now, the company's interest in the technology could have a wider impact. This, perhaps, could accelerate the arrival of colour E-Ink screens and their potential inclusion in future foldable devices and tablets.