We’ve been anticipating this moment for the past few years and it’s finally here. Rumours of a foldable smartphone or tablet have been going round and round, with several ‘prototypes’ appearing at global tech trade shows, yet none seemed ready to release to the public – until now. The world’s very first folding smartphone has been launched in China – but not by a company you might expect or even recognise.
Royole are a small manufacturer in China, beating the big tech companies (think Samsung, LG and Huawei to name a few!) to develop and retail the world’s first foldable phone/tablet device. Currently only available to the Chinese commercial market (available for pre-order elsewhere) the aptly named FlexPai combines your smartphone and tablet to be used folded or unfolded – portable and compact enough to slip into your back pocket and take with you anywhere. Move over Apple, the iPhone is out!
So, how does it work? Well, the device looks like a standard 7.8 inch tablet. However, on the reverse is a central hinge to allow the FlexPai to fold in half. Royole's 2nd Generation, Ultrathin, Cicada WingTM, Fully Flexible Display (quite the mouthful) is able to withstand the folding process, providing you with two separate smartphone-sized screens (4 inches each) when folded in half – all without breaking or losing picture quality. Royole boasts that the screens have been tested to fold over 200,000 times without breaking, which should be enough to last you until your next upgrade!
Royole has made sure that you don’t miss out on all the latest smartphone specs just because the device folds in half. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, a 20MP rear camera and a 16MP front camera, the specs seem to be up to scratch. Plus, the FlexPai can run off Android Pie or Royole’s very own operating system, depending on which one suits. Royole has made use of the folding element, making it much more than just a gimmick. For example, when folded, the two screens can be completely separate – making it easy to support two apps at once or even play a game against your friends with one screen each. It also makes for great photography, displaying the camera view on both screens when folded, helping you to take the perfect picture each time.
Are there any downsides to a foldable device? Well, there’s rumours that the FlexPai screen isn’t as quick at adjusting as you might like – with noticeable delays when you fold, unfold or rotate the device. Many are also not fans of the rubber hinge, saying that it makes the rear of the device rather ugly and may require some intensive cleaning over time.
Royole’s FlexPai is the very first generation of foldable devices – meaning that there’s always going to be room for improvement. We can’t wait to see how this trend unfolds (we had to sneak that in!) in 2019. The Royole FlexPai is currently available for pre-order on their website, but unfortunately no more details have been announced yet.