World's first foldable phone? Royole's 7.8in FlexPai tablet folds into dual-screen phone

The FlexPai is rough around the edges but could be the world's first commercially available foldable tablet-phone.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

There's been much talk of the race between Samsung and Huawei to release the world's first foldable smartphone. But that title could now go Royole, a little-known mobile company with offices in Fremont, California, Hong Kong, and China's hardware hub, Shenzhen.

Royole took the wraps off its 7.8-inch foldable FlexPai phone-tablet at an event in Beijing on Wednesday.

The device has a flexible area in the middle that allows it to be folded with the rear side facing inwards, converting it into a rather chunky dual-screen phone.

The 6GB model with 128GB storage is available to consumers in China today for 8,999 yuan ($1,295), while the 8GB model with 256GB costs 9,998 yuan ($1,438).

A developer version of the FlexPai is available globally now, while consumers in China can buy the consumer edition today. Royole says it expects to ship the devices in late December.

Royole says it's run the FlexPai through durability tests by folding it over 200,000 times.

In a folded state, the device has a primary and secondary screen that can be used together or independently.

The folded edge also displays notifications, which Royole has put to use for managing calls, messages, and notifications that no longer need to be on the larger screens.

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Specs-wise, it's running a Snapdragon 8-series SoC, and features a 20-megapixel camera and 16-megapixel camera.

The AMOLED display has 1,920 x 1,440 pixels. It also has fast-charging, a microSD slot, fingerprint reader, and a USB-C port. It's running on an Android 9.0 based Water OS.

As a video of the FlexPai in action shows, there are still some software glitches that need addressing, and the screen has visible fold marks when straightened out that don't look quite as slick as Royole's product shots. As a phone, it's also bulky.

Samsung plans to unveil its foldable tablet at its developer conference in San Francisco next week.

The company is reportedly working with Google on a version of Android that supports foldable devices. Samsung is likely to make a foldable model available to developers first before attempting a release for consumers.


In its folded state, the FlexPai has a primary and secondary screen that can be used together or independently.

Image: Royole

Previous and related coverage

Samsung: Our foldable phone will be a tablet that fits in your pocket

Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh is convinced we need a foldable phone.

Samsung: Our foldable phone could be unveiled by November, 'It's time to deliver'

Samsung once again teases world's first foldable smartphone with flexible display.

Samsung targeting foldable Note device for 2018: Mobile boss

Samsung Electronics is targeting a 2018 launch for a foldable phone in the Galaxy Note series, the firm's mobile boss says, but it will rollout only when ready.

Samsung still wants to be the first to launch foldable phone, says mobile boss

Samsung says it is focusing on developing innovations for a foldable smartphone that will be genuinely accepted and liked by consumers. The Galaxy S10 expected early next year also won't be the firm's first 5G phone, he said, while a separate model will.

A business laptop with 3 screens? Microsoft patent filing points at multi-screen folding device TechRepublic

A dual-screen device patent recently filed by Microsoft includes a third screen attached to the devices hinge that can display information in a variety of configurations.

Samsung Galaxy S10 will reportedly come in 5G, Plus, budget versions CNET

We also get more hints about its first foldable phone.

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