We’ve seen Oaxis’ e-ink cases a few times here on Cult of Mac. The InkCase is a relatively slim iPhone case with an e-ink screen embedded in the back, and a Bluetooth connection to the host iPhone. The idea is that you can use the low-power e-ink display that covers its back as an always-on second screen to so that you don’t have to keep waking up your iPhone to check things like shopping lists or calendar events.
And now, the case is available for the iPhone 7 Plus
An e-ink screen on the back of your phone is indeed a fantastically useful idea. because of the way e-ink works, the display only uses power when it refreshes. On a Kindle, this means that screen only uses the battery when you turn a page (although in practice the device also runs a light, and a computer). E-ink is also readable in bright light, because it reflects like paper instead of glowing like a computer screen.
Taken together, this makes an e-ink screen ideal for a portable computer that you use outdoors.
InkCase saves battery, works in sunlight
The case connects to a companion app using Bluetooth. In the app, you can choose what info is displayed on the screen, which sits on the back of your iPhone. You can send e-books to read, you can have it display the weather, or calendar events, or your upcoming reminders (including a shopping list). You can also choose to display an image, or — and this one is pretty neat — use the e-ink screen as a basic viewfinder to help you line up selfies taken with the higher-quality rear-facing camera.
The newest addition to the line might be the most useful yet, because it covers the back of the huge iPhone 7 plus, and is therefore big enough to make a viable e-reader. The InkCase i7 Plus, as it is called, is currently hawking itself on Kickstarter, where it can be pre-ordered for $89.
That’s not bad, seeing as the full street price for the current InkCase i7 is $129.
As ever in these hardware/software combos, the InkCase app is the weak link. It’s clunky, and it only allows you to display certain kinds of data. If you grant it access to your calendar and reminders, it will display them in a kind of Today view. Let it have access to your location and it will show the weather, and you can manually load on e-books to send to the device.
But you can’t use it to display a map, which seems nuts, although you could snap a screenshot of a map and use that.
All in all then, the case looks pretty neat, and we should have one arriving at the Cult of Mac Berlin HQ soon, for review purposes. If only the Berlin HQ staff had an iPhone Plus to test it on.