Onyx’s New E-ink Smartphone Can’t Make Phone Calls

Onyx's New E-ink Smartphone Can't Make Phone Calls E-ink e-Reading Hardware If you didn't get a chance to buy an Onyx Midia Inkphone before the first shipment went out of stock, count yourself lucky. Early user reports are coming in from MobileRead, and the news is not good.

One early adopter is reporting that they cannot make phone calls:

Got my e43 ink phone today. Very disappointing. I can't make or receive calls or browse. Only attaches to network and allows to perform *xxxxx# type ussd operation.

Can't believe I paid good money for this . Sent mail to customer support, they sent it to their service guys and I'm still waiting for response.

That user went on to add in a follow up comment:

Still cannot use phone or SMS function. further as per my provider the phone is not legal as the imei they are using is licences to Nokia in fact it is same imei range as Nokia 7610. A mail from GSMA tech support confirm this. So it's a matter of time before they block this phone from networks.

Some users are making calls without issue, but this is still a serious issue.

An IMEI number is a unique 15 digit serial number which belongs to a specific cellphone - not just a model but a specific unit. The numbers are managed by an international body, with companies often requesting a range of IMEI numbers for certain models.

Onyx neglected to register their company as a smartphone maker and request the unique serials numbers that would identify Onyx's smartphones to telecoms around the world. This has been confirmed by other Inkphone owners , and it presents a serious issue for Onyx. As a result, Inkphone owners are at risk of their smartphone being identified as hacked, stolen, or fake by their local telecom.

In short, Onyx can't guarantee that their E-ink smartphone will function as a smartphone.  Whoops.

Nearly 2 years in development, the Onyx Midia Inkphone is a nifty-looking smartphone errr PDA with a 4.3" E-ink screen. It runs Android 2.3 on a 1GHz CPU with 512 RAM, and 4GB internal storage. It retails from Onyx's Polish partner Arta Tech for 149 euros, or at least it did when it was still available.

This PDA had gone up for pre-order in late June, and quickly went out of stock. Something tells me it is going to stay out of stock for quite a while.

If you have an Inkphone, I would suggest that you treat it as a collectible. It's going to be a rare commodity for quite some time.

Arta Tech was queried for this post but did not respond.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

11 Comments

  1. Yellow Buick Review13 July, 2014

    WOW.

    Also, WOW.

    Is it sleezy to jack a list of IMEI numbers? It sounds as though that would be sleezy. Man, E-ink is such a cool technology and it gets such lousy partners.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 July, 2014

      I wouldn’t say it was sleazy; just very sloppy.

      Reply
  2. William Ockham13 July, 2014

    This is just a failure of marketing. There is demand for a phone that doesn’t really accept or make calls. Every IT guy I know wants one.

    [j/k, I think]

    Reply
  3. Adam Kaczmarek - ArtaTech14 July, 2014

    Customers who experience problems should contact Us @

    Reply
  4. beachwanderer14 July, 2014

    Nate, you are being a bit sensational here, but so be it. Headline should rather be “You can not be sure if you can use the E43 as a telephone”.

    A the moment there are on Mobileread two reports of people who can make calls alright and one report of a customer who can’t.

    You are very right that Onyx made a terrible mess of this, nevertheless.

    Letting customers taking part in a “is this IMEI-blocked” lottery is a no-go and sad for the device. And a pity for the polish seller. And changing the IMEI is against the law in some countries and under some circumstances of course. So for some customers there is no way out of the matter but to return the device.

    I ordered a E43 and I can use it to make calls and as a mini-android-eInk reader it serves well and ranges well within my expectations. I posted a range of pictures in the germam sub-forum on MR (if anyone is still interested).

    Reply
    1. Adam Kaczmarek - Arta Tech14 July, 2014

      We get feedback from our customers, there are only 2 inquiries about IMEI we are investigating.

      Reply
    2. Nate Hoffelder14 July, 2014

      Yes. I realized that shortly after I hit Publish.

      I’d like to change the title but I can’t think of an alternative at the moment.

      Reply
  5. Radu14 July, 2014

    Hmm I got an inkphone too, works OK for now, but my IMEI is checking as I9500 Galaxy S4…

    Reply
  6. Jan Willem Poelen12 August, 2016

    What is the situation now, 11 August 2016??? Has that imei problem been solved?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder12 August, 2016

      The phone was discontinued, and no new models have been released. If you missed the one small production run then you’re out of luck.

      Reply

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