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We tried the world's first folding phone, and it actually works

Samsung may be just a few days away from capturing its cover from its own foldable smartphone tablet hybrid, but…

Samsung may be just a few days away from capturing its cover from its own foldable smartphone tablet hybrid, but the consumer electronics company Royole has stolen some of its thunder with its own flexible display. Called FlexPai, the 7.8-inch hybrid device can be folded 180 degrees and transformed from a tablet to a phone, albeit a bulky.

At an event in San Francisco tonight Royole released a functional version of FlexPai that we actually got to hold, and the folding function works as advertised. Granted, it feels miles away in quality from an advanced modern flagship, but it’s still the first real folding device I’ve seen personally, and not just in a concept video or prototype stage.

FlexPai will be available as a consumer unit in China with a basic model price of 8,999 yuan, or around $ 1

,300. You can also pay the total amount of dollars in USD for a developer version if you live in North America. It gives you 128GB of storage space, but you can double it for another $ 150 and add another 2GB of RAM for a total of 8GB.

Image: Royole

For the other specifications, the device comes with a 2.8GHz eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the screen resolution is 1920 x 1440 when fully expanded and comes with 3.800 mAh -Battery. Both the consumer model and the developer version are up for preorder on Royol’s website right now. Royole says that the Chinese consumer model and developer version are slated to be sent in December.


Image: Royole

It should be said that this device is a very first generation product. The software seemed extremely sluggish, apps opened continuously by mistake and the orientation continued to change randomly when one of the Royole representatives demonstrated the folding process. It indicates to me that the company’s own Water OS (an Android 9.0 fork, Royole says) is probably not the most robust operating system just yet.


Image: Royole

Still, much is about the hardware development of making a virtually unburnable AMOLED screen, with a large enough battery that can maintain the folding process. Royole says the screen can be folded 200,000 times. (What happens when it was not done immediately.) We do not know how it will stack up against Samsung’s version, or any competing display that LG is working with. But it is true for the imminent collapsible / flexible display trend that we already see to act as such on the market.

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Faela