Gadgets

The world's first foldable smartphone is finally, actually here

Posted by
Mike Rampton
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The Royole FlexPai is the world’s first foldable smartphone. Yeah, we hadn’t heard of Royole either.

Remember when “phablets” were a thing? Either a phone-sized tablet or tablet-sized phone – nobody ever seemed quite sure – that, by sitting halfway between two more familiar things, would somehow provide the user with the best of both worlds, and not just make them have to buy a bumbag due to being too big for jeans pockets. 

It didn’t really catch on as an idea, possibly due to the in-betweeny nature of it, possibly due to the hideousness of the word “phablet”, and instead, phone screens just got slightly bigger bit-by-bit.

However, a company you’ve never heard of might have just solved the phablet problem in an exciting-ass way, by making a tablet that folds in half to become a phone. 

The phone that bends: just like that old advert for Skips

The Royole FlexPai starts out tablet-sized then, when folded, is much more like a traditional smartphone, but one with a big secondary screen on the back, and a nifty edge screen (think the spine of a paperback) for notifications. 

“The Royole FlexPai foldable smartphone perfectly solves the contradiction between the high-definition large-screen experience and portability, which introduces a whole new dimension to the human-machine interface,” says Dr. Bill Liu, founder and CEO of Royole

“The phone’s inherent design will forever change the consumer electronics industry, as well as the way people interact with and perceive their world.”

There was something of a race going on in the tech world to create a phone that folded, and the smart money was on either Samsung or Huawei to win. Royole, who had previously made flexible screen displays, pipped them both to the post.

Also, the acting in Korean tech company videos is REALLY GOOD.

A new operating system has been created for the malleable display, Water OS 1.0, based upon Android but modified for the clever-clogs switchy-switchy system (our words, not theirs). 

Unfolded, the screen is 1920 x 1440 pixels (to give you an idea for comparison, the iPhone X is 2436 x 1125), but when folded, you have a primary 1440 x 810 front display, a secondary 1440 x 720 rear display, and an edge display of 1440 x 390 pixels. 

Ah, you’re thinking. I’ll knacker that in a month by bending it back and forth too many times. Well, they’re one step ahead of you, claiming the FlexPai can be folded back and forth 200,000 times. If you folded it 60 times a day, that’s about 200 years. 

Is this the future, though?

The world’s first smartphone that doubles as a tent for extremely small action figures

Of all the problems with modern smartphones, is “you can’t fold them in half” the one that most needs to be solved? Well, just maybe. 

There’s definitely something appealing about a big screen you can keep in your pocket – gaming and watching stuff on the go both seem like they’d benefit from the big display, and showing someone a picture of a great dog across a large room is definitely easier with a big screen. Yeah, it could be the future – a few years from now, we might wonder how we ever coped with phones that were always the same size and shape.

The FlexPai is available to order now, and will ship in late December. It’s £1,209. Dang.

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(Pics: Royole)

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Mike Rampton

Mike Rampton is extraordinarily old, like some sort of giant mountain.

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