Modern smartphones have large, colorful touchscreens and no physical keyboard. Recently announced Minimal phone contradicts both trends. It uses a square monochrome E Ink display and a full QWERTY keyboard. However, Android or its specially adapted version functions as a software platform.
Minimal Phone gets its name from a special version of Android optimized to run on devices with low-power, high-contrast black-and-white E Ink displays and low refresh rates. The new product is not yet available for purchase, but the developer says that the design of the device has been completed and a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to start production of the minimal phone will begin in early February.
Since the E-Ink display allows information to be displayed without backlighting, the smartphone is comfortable to use even in bright sunlight. It also consumes low power and is capable of displaying a static image indefinitely even when there is no power. Essentially, energy is only used when the image on the screen changes. The developer of Minimal Phone claims that the smartphone can last up to 4 days without charging, and the power source is a 4000 mAh battery.
Of course, a smartphone with an E Ink screen is not suitable for watching videos and playing games, but according to startup founder Andre Youkhana, the device will support some modern features. We’re talking about a capacitive touch display with backlight, RCS function for messages, support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular, as well as support for most Android applications. The startup is also known to be working with one of the device manufacturers to ensure that the Minimal Phone receives certification from Google and mobile carriers. This allows developers to equip the smartphone with the Play Store and other Google-branded services.
However, this statement does not agree with another statement from the startup, which said that the smartphone will be equipped with a small set of applications, which will make it possible to minimize the amount of user data collected by the device. Google typically requires manufacturers that use the Play Store to install other services on their devices, such as YouTube, Gmail and Chrome, all of which collect user data.
The developers are also “exploring” the possibility of implementing support for 5G networks, so at the moment it is more likely that the smartphone will work on 4G networks. The Minimal Phone has dimensions of 120 × 72 × 10 mm, which makes it quite compact by modern standards. The retail price is expected to be around $400, but a crowdfunding campaign will likely make it possible to purchase the device at a cheaper price. Production of the first batch of Minimal Phone will begin when the startup can raise funds to produce at least 3,000 smartphones.