On Wednesday, Royole Corporation unveiled the FlexPai, what it calls the world’s first commercial smartphone with a flexible display. The Android device will start selling in China this December, starting at $1,291.
October 31, 2018 5:05PM EST
October 31, 2018
A little-known company has beaten Samsung to the punch with the introduction of the world’s first smartphone with a foldable display.
The product is called the FlexPai and comes from Royole Corporation, which unveiled the handset on Wednesday in Beijing. It’s built with a flexible screen that can fold the device like a wallet.
Royole is calling the FlexPai a phone, but the device is also a tablet. Unfolded, the product has a 7.8-inch display with a 1,920-by-1,440 resolution. It’s also a bit hefty, and weighs in at 0.70 pounds (or the twice the weight of an iPhone X.)
The vendor claims the Android-based device can bend over 200,000 times. When you do fold it, you’re essentially getting a phone with a screen in the front and in the back. However, the FlexPai doesn’t fold completely flat, so it may not fit well in your pocket.
You can see how this all works in practice in the video below. When you fold the phone, the device can readjust the display, although the transitions aren’t completely smooth.
The cutting-edge display on the FlexPai will certainly set it apart from other devices on the market. But the product isn’t cheap; the base model starts at $1,291. Fully upgraded, it goes for $1,864.
Samsung plans on unveiling its own foldable smartphone possibly as soon as next week at the company’s developer conference in San Francisco. The product will reportedly also feature a large display that can fold in the same way as the FlexPai.
Although Royole isn’t a well-known brand in the tech industry, the company has been working on flexible display technology for over the past five years. The company itself is actually headquartered in Fremont, California, but most of its employees are based in China, where it has a factory in Shenzhen.
Royole told PCMag it does have plans to sell the foldable phone in the US, but it hasn’t determined the exact date. In China, it’ll start selling the product in late December.
The FlexPai is built with an unnamed Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series chip that’s been clocked at 2.8GHz. The base model comes with 6GB of RAM, 128GB in storage, and a microSD card slot for more memory. It has two cameras, one at 20 megapixels, the other at 16MP. You can find full specs here.
Royole is also a supplier of flexible displays, so it could fuel more foldable phone designs through other vendors in China. Royole say its factory in Shenzhen can build 50 million flexible display units per year.
About the Author
Michael has been a PCMag reporter since October 2017. He previously covered tech news in China from 2010 to 2015, before moving to San Francisco to write about cybersecurity. His Twitter is @Michael_Kan. Signal number: 415 696 5528
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