Tue. Mar 5th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The Boox Palma is a compact e-paper reader that can easily fit into your pocket, allowing for convenient reading on the go.
  • The device may look like a mobile phone, but the Palma contains no LTE or 5G cellular connectivity.
  • Users can download reading apps from the Google Play Store, making it versatile for accessing a wide variety of books.


The iPod successfully put music in people’s pockets. A thousand songs neatly stored on a device the size of a wallet turned out to be a huge deal. In that same vein, the Onyx Boox Palma is attempting to shove an infinite number of books into that same pants-sized pocket for even more accessible reading.

Current eReaders shrink a library of books into a single device, but almost none of those can slip into a small pocket. For people eager to bring a book with them everywhere, this e-paper reader might be the best solution. The iPod for books, you could say.

boox palma

Onyx Boox Palma

This mobile e-paper device combines cutting-edge performance with an E Ink display and a phone-sized design, allowing you to effortlessly slip it into your pocket and carry it on the go.

Screen Size
6.13″ HD Carta 1200 screen

Processor
Qualcomm Octa-core + BSR GPU

RAM
6GB (LPDDR4X)

Battery
3,950mAh

OS
Android 11

Weight
6oz (170g)

Connectivity
Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz) + BT 5.0

Dimensions
6.3 x 3.1 x 0.31in (159 x 80 x 8.0mm)

Ports
USB-C Port (Supports OTG or use as an audio jack)

Buttons
Power Button, Volume/Page-Turn Buttons, Customizable Function Button

IP Rating
Splash resistant

Pros

  • Pocket-able size
  • Nice screen for reading
  • Can download reading apps from Google Play Store
Cons

  • Camera is only for scanning docs (drives up device cost)
  • Page-turn buttons don’t work universally

The Design of a Palm-Sized EReader

button and sd card tray on the onyx boox palma
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Boox Palma may not revolutionize the literary industry the way the iPod changed the future of music, but I do think its form factor is important. I’ve used plenty of eReaders, but few of them left the house often because they were still too big to stash in a pocket quickly. I loved the Kobo Libra 2, but even that minimal product was too big as a companion device to take on every random outing.

The Boox Palma comes in at 6.3 inches tall and 3.1 inches wide—with a 6.13-inch screen—so I frequently stuck it in my back pocket when heading out the door. I had it with me a lot during testing. As a result, I used it more.

It clicked with me right away. But the Palma is also the size of a phone, which people already carry, and already gives them access to reading apps like Kindle, Kobo, Libby, and so on. Do you see where I’m going with this? The biggest competitor to the Palma is the smartphone that’s already in someone’s pocket.

I get it. In that regard, trying to tell someone they need to buy two devices and carry both of them is a tough sell. I have read books on my phone, and it’s certainly doable, but, again, one of the reasons this product clicked with me was its ability to only be a reading device, with great visibility in the sun. It allowed me to focus on reading books, rather than get swept away with other things.

So beyond just being an incredibly portable size, its compact nature also functioned well. The Palma is really a one-handed reader. Two volume buttons on the right side can be used as page-turn buttons. Since the Palma is palm-able, the page-turn buttons are either directly under your index finger or your thumb, depending on which hand you’re holding it with.

A left-side button can be customized, but, by default, is set to refresh the screen when pressed. All these items worked together well to form an ultra-compact reading device. If the width feels too narrow, you can hold it sideways and let the text rotate. I used this layout occasionally and found it helpful for certain styles of writing which had longer sentences.

Boox Palma Software: A Small E-Paper Tablet

home screen of the onyx boox palma
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Boox Palma isn’t just an eReader. It’s actually a computing device—an iPod Touch, if you will. That comes in handy being able to use Google Play to download reading apps, but it doesn’t ruin the reading experience.

Thankfully, Palma’s monochrome E-Ink screen isn’t interesting enough to be a full-featured tablet running Android 11—at least it wasn’t for me. I never felt compelled to set up my email. I didn’t try and run Slack. I didn’t use it for Spotify. Even its ability to scan documents with its built-in camera was lackluster enough not to be tempted. The experience of trying to move quickly through an interface hampered by screen refresh times is usually painful after a small amount of time.

All these things are possible if you want them badly enough. I’m happy they’re available to address a wide range of people’s needs. Importantly, though, those things didn’t get in the way of the Palma being a solid, Wi-Fi-connected eReader for me.

Is the Boox Palma a Phone?

comparing the onyx boox palma to the size of the samsung galaxy s22 ultra
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Boox Palma (left) is about the size of the Samsung Galaxy s22 Ultra.

Even though I never thought of the Boox Palma as a tablet and didn’t want to use it as a monochrome computer, it’s undeniable that it looks like a phone with an e-paper screen. It even has a microSD card slot for storage that closely resembles a SIM card slot for cellular connectivity.

To be clear, the Palma has no cellular connection and can’t be used as a phone, but it’s not far off. Nearly every other part of a phone is in place. It’s hard to imagine that Onyx doesn’t try to make a mobile phone at some point in the future. The company’s website even calls it a “phone-like” device.

You could probably get close to faking it as a phone—did anyone else use an iPod Touch as an iPhone in the early days? It will support Skype and other calling apps over Wi-Fi. The Palma has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a Qualcomm Octa-core CPU. Minus the E-Ink screen refresh times, the device performed tasks with enough speed that performance wasn’t a deterrent.

I agree with Onyx that it is phone-like. But, ultimately, to get the most value out of it, you should just think of it as a compact eReader.

Boox Palma Battery Life

The Boox Palma’s battery life will vary heavily depending on what you’re using it for. As an eReader, it should get you somewhere between seven and nine days of use. With more Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other app usage, that will probably go down to just a couple of days. I never felt like I had to monitor the battery level too closely. If you do want a constant gauge, an estimate of the amount of time remaining for battery power is available in the settings.

Palma Price and Availability

The Boox Palma is available now in black or white for $279.99. It comes with a free silicon case. Of the few e-paper Boox devices in the 6-7-inch range, the Palma is the most expensive. It comes in just above the Boox Page. In this case, smallness is a feature that costs a premium.

Should You Buy the Boox Palma?

reading on the onyx boox palma
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The moment I saw the Onyx Boox Palma, I had hoped that this newly sized eReader could solve my problem of not reading as much as I wanted to. I was optimistic that its compact frame would allow me to bring it along to more places.

After some time with the device, I do think it’s helped my problem—a little bit. I do bring it more places, but just not everywhere, all the time. Its size does have the potential to help certain people read more. But frankly, no matter an eReader’s size, there’s nothing that will get you reading more than a good book. (So spend time finding a good book.)

If you already have novels you’re trying to dig into but feel trapped by circumstances that only allow you to read at home, then I think you should snatch up the Palma right away. The eReader felt versatile and more portable than any other one I’ve tried before. It was wonderful.

An iPod-like revolution, this eReader is not, but its size is a true breath of fresh air. It’s certainly the type of reading device I think needs to be out in the world.

boox palma

Onyx Boox Palma

This mobile e-paper device combines cutting-edge performance with an E Ink display and a phone-sized design, allowing you to effortlessly slip it into your pocket and carry it on the go.

Screen Size
6.13″ HD Carta 1200 screen

Processor
Qualcomm Octa-core + BSR GPU

RAM
6GB (LPDDR4X)

Battery
3,950mAh

OS
Android 11

Weight
6oz (170g)

Connectivity
Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz) + BT 5.0

Dimensions
6.3 x 3.1 x 0.31in (159 x 80 x 8.0mm)

Ports
USB-C Port (Supports OTG or use as an audio jack)

Buttons
Power Button, Volume/Page-Turn Buttons, Customizable Function Button

IP Rating
Splash resistant



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By John P.

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