The world’s first foldable smartphone has arrived and it’s not Samsung or LG

The rumor about foldable smartphones from smartphones has been spinning since 2015 thanks to companies like Samsung and LG. At an event last week, Huawei also confirmed its willingness to jump on the bandwagon. However, all of these manufacturers have been beaten to the limit by Chinese company Royole, which unveiled the world’s first smartphone, called FlexPai, at an event held in Beijing yesterday.

While being the first is always remarkable, what does the device actually offer? The FlexPai is equipped with a 7.8-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 × 1440, when enlarged. It can bend from 0 to 180 degrees and the manufacturer claims to be able to withstand over 200,000 elbows.

This is what the FlexPai looks like from above. / © Royole

When folded, the display shrinks to a much more compact 4-inch size. According to Royole, you can also use this split screen thanks to its water operating system, specially designed for foldable devices. This makes the smartphone’s aspect ratios 4: 3, 16: 9 and 18: 9, depending on whether the device is folded or not.

It’s also possible to show incoming calls and notifications on the edge screen (the flip), but we’re not sure how useful that is. Calls are very likely to be missed if your phone is on silent and lying on your desk.

Powerful on paper

It seems that, with FlexPai, Royole not only wants to show off its innovative and flexible design, but also to compete with current smartphones from the technical specifications department. One trend they are not following is the multiple cameras we saw with the Samsung A9 and Honor Magic 2. The FlexPai opts for just two sensors: a 16 MP wide-angle camera and a 20 MP telephoto lens, which will be able to capture images at a single angle thanks to the foldable design.

Rumors have it that the Royole smartphone is also equipped with the latest Snapdragon chipset (Snapdragon 855, also known as 8150). If the rumors are confirmed, the FlexPai will be the first device to bring the octa-core processor to 2.8 GHz. In terms of RAM and storage, there are no surprises – 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card. The phone will also come out of the box with Android 9 Pie.

However, while the specs look impressive on paper, we don’t know if this will translate to amazing performance in practice. This demo video posted on Twitter is not very convincing:

Foldable but not compact

Finally, we need to discuss the dimensions of FlexPai. The device may seem quite small when folded, but unfortunately it is not very ergonomic. It is 134mm high, 190mm wide and 7.6mm deep. It looks bulky when folded and for a smartphone it is heavy. It weighs 320g, almost twice as much as the Pixel 3 XL , which weighs 184 and heavier than the Samsung note 9 (one of the largest smartphones available on the market), which is only 201 g. With a starting price of over $ 1,200 (for the 6GB RAM, 128GB storage model), that weight might be too much for most users to overlook.

For now, the device will only be sold in China through “flash sales” and there is no official news on availability in other regions. While we are excited about its release, we are still not sure how successful FlexPai will be.

What do you think? Would you like to buy a foldable smartphone from Royole or wait and see what Samsung and co have to offer? Let us know in the comments below.