TCL has come to its senses CES 2023 with a host of new technologies, from budget Android phones to high-end TVs. But what really caught my attention was the expanded range of Nxtpaper devices the company was showing off.
Nxtpaper is TCL’s clever screen technology that covers a regular LCD with an extra layer that mimics the textured feel of paper. It’s a bit like a feeling 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 blue light.
TCL released its first version of the Nxtpaper a few years ago as a tablet, although it lacked a backlight, meaning it could only be used in bright light. The second version fixed this and the latest addition increased the brightness level.
While a concept device, the Nxtpaper phone isn’t ready for consumers, or even a final product. TCL representatives told me that it was purely an idea at this stage, but one that could become a real product if enough positive feedback is received.
I spent about an hour with this concept device, and it was immediately apparent that there would be great benefits to making such a device a reality. The matte display is much better in sunny conditions; where more traditional phones would struggle with glare, Nxtpaper diffuses light, making reading easier.
TCL also claims that the display is better for your eyes as it emits significantly less blue light. Considering you may be looking at your phone for 5-6 hours a day, more than you would with a tablet, using this technology on your phone makes a lot of sense.
However, there are obvious problems, and it is likely that they are the ones that have prevented this phone from becoming a reality. Brightness is my biggest issue and the Nxtpaper phone had a noticeably dimmer display than the phone iPhone 14 Pro Max I used as a comparison.
There’s a blandness to it too, with the screen lacking the levels of clarity found even on budget Android phones. Finally, longevity is probably also an issue. Using a screen protector here will render the unique display useless.
If these issues are resolved, I can definitely see the pros outweighing the cons of the technology, and I’d love to see it appear in a proper product.