The World's First Folding Phone Is Less Crappy Than Expected

Image: Royole

Although TVs seem to be the biggest story coming from CES this year, 2019 will undoubtedly be the year when folding smartphones become mainstream. And while all the major phone makers have plans for their own folding phones, tech upstart Royole has released their FlexPai folding smartphone.

We had a brief glimpse of this device last year following a launch in Beijing last October. It's now been shown off again during CES 2019 - and it's looking markedly better.

We reported on the FlexPai last year following its launch. Back then, the specs were reported as a next-generation Snapdragon 855 chipset, a dual-lens camera featuring a 20-megapixel sensor and 16-megapixel wide angle lens, 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage as well as a microSD slot. It also runs a special version of Android called Water OS which is made to run on split screen devices.

Unfortunately, the user experience was described as "pretty rough" suggesting the device was rushed to market with the kudos of being 'first' overriding the need to be ... not crap.

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But reports today suggest Royole has had its engineering team on the case. The device shown off at CES 2019 was far more refined. The FlexPai's two screens have different aspect ratios; one with a 16:9 aspect ratio and the other with 18:9. It also supports dual SIMs so you can potentially have two phones running together, each on its own carrier with its own display.

When folded, the two screens don't sit completely flat against each other half of the phone, as the fold creates a wedge shape. But the edges that do meet are connected magnetically so it shouldn't snap open. Royole says the screen can can be folded 200,000 times. If you folded and unfolded it three times per hour, that's over 7.5 years of life from the hinge.

As you'd expect from a modern smartphone, theres a fingerprint scanner, USB-C port, but no headphone jack. Reportedly there will be a USB-C to 3.5mm connector in the box although it does include a set of USB-C earphones.

The FlexPai isn't on sale yet although a developer version has been available since late last year. The developer version of the handset starts at US$1,318 (around AU$1,850) for the 128GB version, while the 256GB developer FlexPai costs US$1,469 (around AU$2,060).


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