The World's First Commercial Foldable Phone Will be Made by Royole, Not Samsung or the Others

By Tom Pritchard on at

For years we've heard plenty about how Samsung has been working on a foldable phone to bring to the market. Then more recently we've been hearing the same about other companies like Lenovo and Huawei. Well now we know which company will be the first to drop a foldable device into the hands of the consumer. It's Royole, a California-based company that doesn't command nearly the same amount of brand recognition.

That's not a slight on Royole, since it's made some great gadgets in the past, but in truth they aren't well known. Well they weren't, because they just went and announced the FlexPai - a flexible smartphone that will be available to purchase. We've seen folding phones before, but they were all prototypes and never had any chance of hitting shop shelves. That's not the case here.

Announced in Beijing, the FlexPai has a 7.8-inch display that can be folded up and turned into three smaller displays: a four-inch display on the front and rear, plus a smaller one on spine for viewing notifications. Naturally ehe folding and unfolding process will cause the interface to switch between tablet and phone modes, so you're always using it in the most appropriate way. In other words no tiny screen on the tablet and no horrible stretched out display when it's folded up. Twitter leaker Ice Universe has a video of the folding in action, and Royole claims the display can handle over 200,000 folds without breaking.

The phone itself come running Android Pie with Royole's Water UI on top, and comes packing the still-unannounced Snapdragon 8150 chipset. Three models are available with combinations RAM and storage, including a 6GB/128GB base model, and two 8GB models with either 256GB or 512GB of storage. There's also a dual camera system with 16MP main lens and 20MP telephoto lens, and a 3,800 mAh battery (which seems small for a tablet). The company has announced there will be three "flash sales" in China, starting 1st November, with the aim of delivering the FlexPai in December.

Sadly there's no word on an international release, though Royole has promised it will be delivering handsets to developers across the world.

The other downside is that it costs 9,000 Yuan, which is the equivalent of £1,000. So it's not cheap, and when you consider the cost of eventually delivering these to the UK (plus local taxes) it's bound to cost a lot more than that. But it'll still probably be cheaper than some of the new iPad Pros, so that's something. [TechRadar]