The world's first commercially available folding screen phone wasn't made by Samsung, Huawei, or Motorola – it was the Royole Flexpai, a device we called "charmingly awful". However, in March Royole promised to refine the idea with the new FlexPai 2, and the company is officially launching this phone in China today, starting at 9,988 yuan, or around $ 1,471.
And while the company mostly only releases renders instead of photos today, you can see a demo of the phone in about 38 minutes after the company presented:
Does it look pretty slim? At 6.3mm thick when flat (12.8mm folded), it's not nearly as thin as the Microsoft Surface Duo with two screens, but it sounds thinner than the 6.9mm bezel on the Samsung Galaxy Z. Fold 2 (including camera) and the 16.8mm domed hinge. Royole claims his new specially designed hinge has "no gap," which is apparently PR speaking for a very small gap of about 1mm.
This could be a picture of the actual phone from the demo. All other images appear to be rendered.
That 7.8-inch screen could be a flaw, though: Royale doesn't say anything about glass, so it's likely made of plastic – and with a slightly lower resolution of 1920 x 1440 than its dual-screen rivals Samsung and Microsoft. Nowadays that's a pretty big screen for those few pixels. And of course, it's a single, fully exposed screen that you fold in half and have nothing to say on the other side of the phone.
The rest of the specs seem pretty competitive: a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor; 8 GB or 12 GB of RAM; 256GB or 512GB of storage, a 4450 mAh battery, and 5G support with a range of four cameras (64 MP wide, 16 MP ultra wide, 8 MP with 3x optical zoom, and a 32 MP portrait camera for selfies, though all four cameras are pointed at you anyway). There's also a pair of stereo speakers, two SIM card slots, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C fast charging.
Aside from the durability of hinges and screens – the company rates them 1.8 million bends, but bending tests are never the whole story – the biggest question is probably software, which was previously the Achilles' heel of more than a folding phone.
There Royole's promising “waterOS 2.0” will intelligently split the screen between several apps, you can drag and drop between them and with the help of the folded screen you and your photography subject can align the perfect portrait. waterOS 2.0 is based on Android 10, the company says.
We're going to think more about when we can take a real phone for a spin. In the meantime, the company's product page can be found here. The 12GB / 512GB model is priced at 11,588 yuan, or roughly $ 1,707.