Bigme HiBreak E Ink smartphone takes another stab at eye-friendly mobility

As powerful and as helpful as smartphones have become, they have also become sources not only of distraction but also of poor health. Staring at screens all day is bad enough, but they can also affect our sleep if used late into the night. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible for many people to detach from their phones or even reduce their use, so a few designers and manufacturers have tried to come up with alternatives like minimalist phones. eReader maker Bigme is proposing a different kind of answer, one that smashes an eBook reader and a smartphone in one pocketable design, creating a phone-sized E Ink device that is actually a functional phone.

Designer: Bigme

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a phone-sized eReader. We reviewed the Onyx BOOX Palma a while back and found it to be quite capable as a pocket reader. But despite its phone-like looks, it’s technically a tiny Wi-Fi-only device. In contrast, the Bigme HiBreak can plug in a SIM card and connect to 4G LTE networks. Yes, 4G LTE speeds only, which is probably fine because the device’s screen won’t be able to catch up with the network speed anyway.


The HiBreak comes in two flavors with different 5.84-inch E Ink screens. One is a pure black and white screen like a traditional eReader, while the other supports a few colors at a lower resolution than black and white. Despite the advancements in E Ink technology, the ultra-slow refresh rates of these panels will take the fun out of scrolling and swiping through social media, which is probably for the best. What it offers, instead, is a gentler reading experience, especially if you’re the type who likes to read text-only documents on the go.

Of course, the Bigme HiBreak is a true smartphone, one that runs Android 11 on practically mid-range hardware. It does have Google Play support, so you can install any app available that supports that old OS version but don’t expect the experience to be as smooth as on a regular phone. On the flip side, that 3,300 mAh battery is going to last you for days rather than just hours. It has a 13MP main camera, more for “scanning” documents than taking pretty pictures, and a 5MP front camera for emergency video calls.

In terms of aesthetics, the Bigme HiBreak is truly a shrunken-down eReader, complete with wide bezels and a rather plain design. It’s almost like it’s intentionally uninspiring in order to cut down on your smartphone use unless that use is for lots of reading. But while it does solve the problem of eyecare, a device that runs a full Android stack with cellular connectivity won’t do any wonders for those distracting notifications unless you decide to ignore them since they won’t look that nice on the E Ink screen anyway.