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e-ink phones -- Better for touring?

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e-ink phones -- Better for touring?

Old 09-17-21, 07:59 AM
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gauvins
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e-ink phones -- Better for touring?

E-ink seems to be a better alternative for touring. The screen is easy to read in direct sunlight and battery life is much much better -- users routinely report autonomy of up to 10 days, vs 12hrs for most (AM)(O)LED phones. The downside is that for all practical purposes there's only one manufacturer, essentially catering to the Chinese market, and considering that an e-ink phone is somewhat like a smaller Kindle Paperwhite with phone capabilities, there is a significant performance gap compared with flagship smartphones.

I personally always tour with a smartphone (don't we all), turned on once or twice a day to fetch/answer email, review the itinerary and get odd jobs done. I'd typically be able to get roughly 4 days between charges (4 000mAh). Based on my understanding of e-ink phones and my experience with e-ink tablets, I believe that it is not unreasonable to hope for an autonomy of more than 2 weeks.

I've ordered one (Hisense A5, which comes with a custom ROM and Google Play Store installed) and will eventually report on my experience once I've figured out how to configure it properly. If others have experiences with this type of phone, I'll eagerly read what you have to say.
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Old 09-17-21, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
E-ink seems to be a better alternative for touring. The screen is easy to read in direct sunlight and battery life is much much better -- users routinely report autonomy of up to 10 days, vs 12hrs for most (AM)(O)LED phones. The downside is that for all practical purposes there's only one manufacturer, essentially catering to the Chinese market, and considering that an e-ink phone is somewhat like a smaller Kindle Paperwhite with phone capabilities, there is a significant performance gap compared with flagship smartphones.

I personally always tour with a smartphone (don't we all), turned on once or twice a day to fetch/answer email, review the itinerary and get odd jobs done. I'd typically be able to get roughly 4 days between charges (4 000mAh). Based on my understanding of e-ink phones and my experience with e-ink tablets, I believe that it is not unreasonable to hope for an autonomy of more than 2 weeks.

I've ordered one (Hisense A5, which comes with a custom ROM and Google Play Store installed) and will eventually report on my experience once I've figured out how to configure it properly. If others have experiences with this type of phone, I'll eagerly read what you have to say.
I hadn't heard of an e-ink phone, although my family has enjoyed Kindles.

When you get yours, I'd be interested to see what battery life is like if you're using it as a GPS replacement. Reason for my curiosity is that I'd expect maps, or typical GPS such as speed/distance/pulse/whatever, are changing constantly (or at least every few seconds). I'm wondering what the constant screen updates do to the battery.
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Old 09-17-21, 09:03 AM
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I navigate with a stem-mounted watch (currently Garmin F5, Enduro is in the mail), which provides unrivalled autonomy -- 2 long days with the F5 draw 300mAh vs 1 day on a phone drawing 4000mAh. Enduro should give at least twice (I expect 4 times) the autonomy.

Using e-ink phone as a nav device... autonomy will depend on software settings. IIRC, Locus Pro can be configured to turn the display on when required, i.e. upcoming turn, or some other course point, and off afterwards. OTOH Google maps is always on and constantly redrawing the screen unless you turn it off manually.

As I said, will update. I made a mental note to try and navigate with the phone. I may forget. Remind me
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Old 09-17-21, 10:01 AM
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Worst case I'd be willing to only turn on the gps a few times per day or to navigate when finding stuff in town. Most of my touring days don't involve many turns other than in town and I stay out of town most of the time. A lot of my days are something like head east on US90 for 100 miles or head south on 101 until tired. No need to deplete the battery for that.
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Old 09-17-21, 11:00 AM
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I charge my cell phone with a pass through battery that is plugged into a hub dynamo USB charger. I also use a cell phone with a daylight visible screen. It also helps to purchase a phone that is not bought through a carrier so you don't have there battery life sucking software on it.
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Old 09-17-21, 11:50 AM
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EInk has a very low refresh rate. That means, it's really only useable for for screen images that don't change frequently.

It works well for book readers because the page you are reading doesn't change very frequently.

It won't work well for navigation if the map is being updated as you move.

It would likely be pretty awful for how people normally use phones (other than reading "books").

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Old 09-17-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
EInk has a very low refresh rate.
you may want to watch this:


[Onyx isn't the only manufacturer who's provided solutions to the refresh rate dilemma. Search yT for video reviews of the Hisense A5 -- rather crummy GPU, yet perfectly watchable videos. Certainly good enough for nav, except, perhaps, if you are in a fighter jet squadron

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Old 09-17-21, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
you may want to watch this:

[Onyx isn't the only manufacturer who's provided solutions to the refresh rate dilemma. Search yT for video reviews of the Hisense A5 -- rather crummy GPU, yet perfectly watchable videos. Certainly good enough for nav, except, perhaps, if you are in a fighter jet squadron
Interesting.

It's somewhere between good and awful.

Are you getting the color e-ink one?
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Old 09-17-21, 02:47 PM
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Shades of grey 32 I believe, but don't know for sure; color e-ink is locked and therefore requires more gymnastic (Aurora and side loading of apps). I've set my flagship to grey scale in order to assess the importance of color, and, surprisingly, I prefer it that way. Not clear if the A5 will become my main phone, however. At home, my battery easily lasts all day and putting the phone on its charging pad isn't demanding. I am probably giving more importance to raw speed and Google integration (ex: Google Pay) than to autonomy. Different on tour, during a long weekend visiting friends and family, during a backpacking trip, a business trip, etc. One "civil" use case that closed the deal for me is the possibility of pinning a pic on your lockscreen, such as a boarding pass. It'll be permanently visible just as if it were paper. Even if your battery dies. I remember struggling with my regular phones to turn on the display and fetch the QR code, and on several occasions, wondering if my battery would die before boarding.
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Old 09-17-21, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Interesting.

It's somewhere between good and awful.
I just found and watched this vid of the phone that the OP is considering (or, maybe this is of the Pro version)

Doesn't look awful to me.

What does give me pause, though, is that the light which illuminates the screen is a blue-ish LED, instead of something red or orange. That is too bright for me. Just like how there are two different kinds of LED bulbs for your house lamp - Daylight and Softlight. The Daylight one interrupts the circadian rhythm. I've made sure to replace any of those in my house with the Softlight variety.


When smartphones first came out, I was really hoping that ones with E-ink screens would be produced. I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who was interested in the concept.

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Old 09-17-21, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
Doesn't look awful to me.
Not awful but not good (somewhere in between; maybe closer to good than awful).

It might be more of an issue in real use than the demo shows.
​​​​​
Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
What does give me pause, though, is that the light which illuminates the screen is a blue-ish LED, instead of something red or orange. That is too bright for me.
In daylight, you shouldn't need the backlight at all. That's one of the points of e-ink.

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Old 09-17-21, 04:31 PM
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Thanks gauvins, I had never heard of this sort of thing, but certainly the kindle battery life experience is potentially very interesting.
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Old 09-17-21, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
In daylight, you shouldn't need the backlight at all. That's one of the points of e-ink.
It appears that you have missed my point. When you illuminate things with a blue light at night, your circadian rhythm is thrown off, possibly causing difficulty trying to sleep because your unconscious thinks that you have just seen sunlight. For this reason, I have a utility on my laptop called f.Lux, that takes blue out of the light spectrum of the display from sundown to sunrise.

Or were you implying that no-one contextually interested in this device would be using it at night? I would use it as my only cellphone, thus using it at night too.

Last edited by Nyah; 09-17-21 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 09-17-21, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
It appears that you have missed my point. When you illuminate things with a blue light at night, your circadian rhythm is thrown off, possibly causing difficulty trying to sleep because your unconscious thinks that you have just seen sunlight. For this reason, I have a utility on my laptop called f.Lux, that takes blue out of the light spectrum of the display from sundown to sunrise.
It probably doesn't matter (much).

https://time.com/5752454/blue-light-sleep/
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