One of the devices the world has been waiting to get a closer look at this CES is the Royole FlexPai, the bendy smartphone that managed to beat the likes of Samsung and everyone else currently working on foldables to market.
However, it looks like to meet that deadline, Royole rushed things a bit. Understandably, we might add: getting the first foldable out before any of the big names was a huge boost to the company's brand and reputation.
Still, now that the nerd world has descended on Las Vegas to see all the newest and most exciting tech, the shine has worn off FlexPai somewhat.
"The Royole FlexPai is only interesting because of the tech it contains inside. As a phone it’s pretty terrible."
This is slightly surprising because the innards of the phone are actually pretty good, hardware-wise. Here's the spec list:
- 7.8-inch flexible AMOLED screen (1920 x 1440, 308 PPI)
- 134 x 190.3 x 7.6mm
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series chipset (Techradar's hands-on device had the 855)
- 6GB or 8GB of RAM
- 128GB or 256GB of storage
- MicroSD up to 256GB
- 16MP + 20MP cameras, f/1.8 with OIS
- USB type C
- 3800mAh battery
- 5V/5A fast charger
- Water OS
The consensus so far is that the FlexPai is slow to use even when you're not bending it around – even when you're just taking a photo. The software being shown is apparently the final version, so that's what you'll get for your £1,000.
Also, the FlexPai doesn't fold flat, which is really annoying. Yes, it's got to accommodate that big hinge in the middle (which links two handsets, which you can apparently feel when you're folding it – it doesn't feel like one seamless device), but it's not really a tablet-phone hybrid if it can't be flattened.
Altogether, it sounds like the reason Royole was able to get their phone out first is that they didn't mind if it wasn't perfect. You'd never see Samsung unveiling a retail device with problems like this -- they'd be slaughtered in the tech press. But as a challenger brand, Royole has more leeway.
It seems we won't be stumping up the cash for our own Royole FlexPai, but we knew that anyway -- it's going to be a while yet before we get good, affordable foldables. Life is hard, eh?