This cool smartphone doubles as an e-ink reader

We’ve seen a handful of devices touting two rear cameras recently, but, strictly in terms of hardware tricks, this hardly compares to what one Philippine-based smartphone brand has in store for its customers by the end of the year.

Meet the Cherry Mobile Taiji. At first blush, looking at it from a certain angle, it looks unassuming enough, lame even. This black box made of screen and plastic and Android doesn’t seem any more promising than the last black box you’ve seen, and the tens of others before it. Right? No. But allow us to elaborate.

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On the other end (or back?) of the Taiji is an e-ink display — just like the one the Kindle has only smaller. It measure 4.7-inches, and like the Kindle, it displays everything in black and white to save power. What’s the point of a monochrome display within Android, you ask? Well, it’s primarily for reading ebooks and Japanese manga, but you can also use it to browse the web and check messages and email. You know, basic smartphone stuff.

But you shouldn’t use it for playing games and watching movies. As anyone who owns a Kindle can testify, e-ink displays have a slow refresh rate, meaning things can get laggy, and the one slapped on the Taiji is no exception.

As for the rest of its parts, the Taiji comes with a 5.2-inch display running at full resolution; an octa-core MediaTek processor with 3GB of RAM; 13- and 8-megapixel rear- and forward-facing cameras; a 2,500mAh battery; and Android 5.1 Lollipop. Of course, there’s a catch.

But the good news is that you don’t have to pay a large sum to get it; the Taiji is priced at P12,999, which works out at roughly¬†$260, in the Philippines. Consider the street price of the latest Kindle, which starts at $80 before taxes, or that Russia’s YotaPhone 2, an Android smartphone with an e-ink display, sold for almost $900 when it was released in the UK in 2014. Unfortunately, the Taiji won’t be getting an international release, and you may be hard-pressed to find one on eBay or other auction sites.

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