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The first foldable phone: Royole shows a more polished FlexPai at CES 2019

By Cal Jeffrey · 6 replies
Jan 9, 2019
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  1. Last October China-based smartphone startup Royole debuted the FlexPai — the first smartphone with a folding screen. At the time, the phone was a bit rough, but Royole was taking pre-orders anyway if only to be able to say it was first with a foldable.

    This year the phone maker made an appearance at CES and appeared to have made some improvements since October, but it is still far from perfect.

    The FlexPai runs on a Snapdragon 855 making it one of the first (if not the first) smartphones to run on the 855 chipset. There is a 128GB version with 6GB of RAM and a 256GB model with 8GB RAM.

    The dual 16MP+20MP camera is not that impressive, and the 7.8-inch (unfolded) AMOLED screen had a distinct rise in the middle that created a glare I found distracting when I first saw it last year. KLGadgetTV got a closeup look (below) at CES and it appears this annoying aspect of the screen has been improved.

    While the operating system at its core is Android 9.0 Pie, Royole had to modify it to accommodate the folding screen. This aspect seems to work in the phone’s favor.

    "All of their [Royole’s] specific software customizations are just built on top of Android 9.0 Pie,” noted Engadget. “This is very much their own thing, and to their credit, it actually runs really well.”

    Not known for its software expertise, Royole seems to have done an excellent job converting the Pie OS to work smoothly on an entirely new form factor.

    According to the company’s website, the response to initial sales has been overwhelming. It advises those ordering to be prepared to wait anywhere from 60 to 90 days for their order to ship. The 128GB developer version goes for $1,318, and the 256GB is just a bit more at $1,469. In China, they run about 9,000 and 10,000 yuan respectively.

    Is it for everyone? Probably not, especially if you live outside of China since that is the only market it is currently available (unless you buy a developer model).

    Sure the FlexPai has its shortcomings, but that’s just part of being first. The first cellphones were clunky bricks, but they were nonetheless cool. The first smartphones weren’t that impressive either, but everyone wanted one. Foldable smartphones will go through a similar phase as manufacturers learn from each other’s mistakes and perfect the form factor.

    Permalink to story.

  2. ZipperBoi

    ZipperBoi TS Member Posts: 21   +23

    About as big a gimmick I have seen since "3D Tv!" Yawn
    p51d007, JaredTheDragon and kombu like this.
  3. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 146   +51

    I am exciting for foldable smartphone. Screen should be on inside so it doesn’t get scratches in purse.
    p51d007 likes this.
  4. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 741   +1,071

    It's very early. Give it at least three generations, maybe 5 years and they will be super slick and probably awesome. I see the uses and I see the appeal. I want a small phone to pull out my pocket for quick checks on messages and so forth, but with the ability to fold it out to a larger screen when I am sat down for a little while. Around a 5 inch screen folded, maybe 9 inches unfolded.

    Right now it's too crude, thick, heavy and large to appeal to me. But if it were basically smaller in every dimension with a much slimmer folded state it would be pretty fantastic. This tech will mature and get there, this is just the start.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  5. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 825   +411

    I used many screenprotectors on all of my devices. So eventually I found one that was superior to the glass phones used. It is matte and doesnt leave fingerprints. I love it so much that I now only use this type of screenprotector on all devices I get
  6. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 322   +102

    I will wait for future generation of folding phones...
  7. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,967   +1,230

    LMAO, just because they are "first" doesn't make it worth a crap.
    Yeah, 1st gen is going to be a bit awkward, but this thing is way too bulky
    for pretty much anyone.

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