TCL came to CES 2023 with a range of new technologies, from budget Android phones to high-end TVs. But what really caught my attention was the extended range of Nxtpaper devices that the company was showcasing.
Nxtpaper is TCL’s smart screen technology that covers a regular LCD with an extra layer that mimics the texture of paper. It’s a bit like an Amazon Kindle – only with a color display at the bottom.
Not only does this make using the stylus on the display more like writing on paper, with more resistance than using a glossy screen, but it also reduces glare and the amount of blue light emitted.
TCL released its first version of Nxtpaper a few years ago as a tablet, although it didn’t have any kind of backlight, which meant it could only be used in bright light. In the second version, this was fixed, and the latest addition increased the brightness level.
I’ve already posted about the Nxtpaper 12 Pro, an Android tablet that uses screen technology, but TCL also showed me the Nxtpaper concept phone, which brings the feature to a smaller canvas for the first time.
Being a concept device, the Nxtpaper phone is not ready for consumer demand and is not even a finished product. TCL representatives told me that at this stage it was just an idea, but it could become a real product if there is enough positive feedback.
I spent about an hour with this concept device, and it immediately became obvious that such a device would have great benefits that would become a reality. The matte display is much better in sunny conditions; where more traditional phones struggle with glare, Nxtpaper diffuses light to make it easier to read.
TCL also claims that the display is better for your eyes as it emits far less blue light. Given that you can look at your phone for 5-6 hours a day, more than you can on a tablet, using this technology on your phone makes a lot of sense.
However, there are obvious problems, and they are probably what prevented this phone from becoming a reality. Brightness is my biggest issue so far, and the Nxtpaper phone had a noticeably dimmer display than the iPhone 14 Pro Max I used for comparison.
There’s softness here, too, with the screen lacking clarity even on budget Android phones. Finally, durability is probably also an issue. Using a screen protector here would render the unique display useless.
If these issues are resolved, then I will definitely see the benefits of the technology outweigh the drawbacks, and I would love to see it appear in a proper product.