Meet the Kindle rival that thinks it’s a phone

The BOOX Palma 2 has an e-ink display but looks and works like an iPhone or Android phone

BOOX Palma e-paper device
(Image credit: BOOX)

I really love the e-ink display in Amazon's Kindle e-readers, but I'm less of a fan of the operating system and interface. What I'd really love is an e-paper device with an e-ink display but a phone-style operating system so I could use it for social media, read-later apps and all the other apps I use to stay on top of my to-read pile. So I'm intrigued by the new BOOX Palma, which is an e-reader that looks like a phone. Think e-ink iPod touch and you've got the general idea.

The BOOX Palma has a 300ppi 6.13-inch e-paper display. It's powered by an octa-core CPU teamed with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with a microSD slot for more. Because it has phone proportions it's pocket and purse friendly, and its customised Android 11 OS enables you to create your own personalised Home Screen with widgets such as you calendar, your key apps and so on.

Is this the e-paper device you've been waiting for?

The Palma is essentially an Android phone without the phone bit, and I'm not sure an e-reader needs a camera but the Palma has a 16MP one with flash just in case. The water-repellent casing is more practical and the integrated light sensor adjusts the brightness as lighting conditions change. There's built-in integration with third party cloud storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive, and the device supports 24 document formats including all the key ebook ones. Boox promises free firmware updates for at least three years and there's 10GB of cloud storage too.

I like this a lot. It's more pocket-friendly than any Kindle and I like the interface here; it looks like it'd be a good device for the bus or train and delivers phone-style functionality with the better reading experience and much longer battery life. The downside is the price: at $279 / €299 (about £270) it's three times the price of the Kindle and more expensive than the Kindle Oasis. So you're definitely paying a premium for that extra portability.

That said, I suspect the key rival here isn't one of the Kindle or Kindle Oasis readers but the Kindle Scribe: that too is more work-focused, and I think it's the best Kindle for people who need to read a lot of documents rather than books. But if you're a big reader who doesn't want a big reader, the Palma is definitely worth a look. It's available now from

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (