Flexpai is the first officially launched foldable smartphone in the world. There’s been much talk of the race between Samsung and Huawei to release the world’s first foldable smartphone. But that title could now go to Royole. A little-known mobile company with offices in Fremont, California, Hong Kong, and China’s hardware hub, Shenzhen. Royole beat Samsung and Huawei to the punch by releasing the first-ever commercially available smartphone-tablet hybrid.
Royole took the wraps off its 7.8-inch foldable FlexPai phone-tablet at an event in Beijing on Wednesday. California-based start-up Royole may not be so little-known for much longer. The world has been on the edge of its seat waiting for Samsung or Huawei to unveil the world’s first foldable smartphone-tablet. But Royole has beaten to them to it by unveiling its own FlexPai.
Similar to what Samsung has been teasing about its model, this next-generation smartphone can be used either folded or unfolded, “giving it the portability of a smartphone plus the screen size of a high-definition tablet.”
Royole holds many records in itself and now it makes history by launching world’s first foldable smartphone. This company was founded by Stanford engineering graduates in 2012. Royole’s mission is to improve the way people interact with and perceive their world.
The company creates and manufactures next-generation human-machine interface technologies and products including advanced flexible displays, flexible sensors, and smart devices. Technology milestones include the world’s thinnest full-color AMOLED flexible displays and flexible sensors (2014), the world’s first foldable 3D mobile theater (2015), the world’s first curved car dashboard based on flexible electronics (2016), the first smart writing pad, RoWrite, based on flexible sensors (2017), and the volume production of Royole’s quasi-G6 mass production campus for fully flexible displays (2018).
Royole has received numerous global awards for its technological innovations and fast growth. Holding over 2000 IPs, it provides IP licenses, services, mass production, and solutions for flexible electronics applications with its novel “Flexible+” platform. Royole, backed by leaders in global finance, has begun producing fully flexible displays in volume from its 1.1-million-square-foot quasi-G6 mass production campus in Shenzhen, China with a total investment of $1.7B. Royole has offices in Fremont, CA, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, China.
The 7.8-inch AMOLED screen supports split screens and multi-tasking – you can even drag and drop just like on your computer. The screen automatically adjusts the display size to adapt to your movie or video game.
It’s actually a tablet as unfolded it boasts a 7.8” screen (4:3 aspect ratio). Folded, that drops to a more manageable 4”.
And get this, this device is the first to use the 7nm Snapdragon 8150.
When the screen of Flexpai is folded, then both screens on the front and back can work together or independently. The side edge where the hinge is can display notifications much like a typical smartphone notification bar, as well as manage calls, messages and “other notices that may disturb the primary and secondary screen usage.”
That hinge, by the way, is sturdy. It can withstand 200,000 folds and even twists. The device can be folded at different angles. The company will soon launch its own Water OS.
The FlexPai uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series SoC, which brings impressive and industry-leading AI to the device. The dual-camera setup is on par with other smartphone leaders with its 20-megapixel telephoto and 16-megapixel wide-angle lenses, as well as stereo speakers and a fingerprint ID — features that define smartphones nowadays.
The device has a flexible area in the middle that allows it to be folded with the rear side facing inwards, converting it into a rather chunky dual-screen phone.
The 6GB model with 128GB storage is available to consumers in China today for 8,999 yuan ($1,295), while the 8GB model with 256GB costs 9,998 yuan ($1,438).
A developer version of the FlexPai is available globally now, while consumers in China can buy the consumer edition today. Royole says it expects to ship the devices in late December.
In a folded state, the device has a primary and secondary screen that can be used together or independently.Specs-wise, it’s running a Snapdragon 8-series SoC, and features a 20-megapixel camera and 16-megapixel camera.
The AMOLED display has 1,920 x 1,440 pixels. It also has fast-charging, a microSD slot, fingerprint reader, and a USB-C port. It’s running on an Android 9.0 based Water OS.
The folded edge also displays notifications, which Royole has put to use for managing calls, messages, and notifications that no longer need to be on the larger screens.
Royole says it’s run the FlexPai through durability tests by folding it over 200,000 times. In a folded state, the device has a primary and secondary screen that can be used together or independently. There are still some software glitches that need addressing, and the screen has visible fold marks when straightened out that don’t look quite as slick as Royole’s product shots. As a phone, it’s also bulky.
FlexPai developer model is available now for €1,388.00 on the Royole site. The consumer model is also available for the Chinese market now with order fulfillment from late December.
The company is reportedly working with Google on a version of Android that supports foldable devices. Samsung is likely to make a foldable model available to developers first before attempting a release for consumers
Samsung Electronics is targeting a 2018 launch for a foldable phone in the Galaxy Note series, the firm’s mobile boss says, but it will roll out only when ready.