Apple, Samsung beaten to foldable phone by clunky Royole FlexPai

Posted:
in General Discussion
A small company has managed to beat major display and mobile device producers like Apple, Samsung, and LG to bringing a smartphone with a foldable screen to market, with Royole's FlexPai being made available to preorder in China on Thursday.




Revealed on Wednesday in Beijing, the FlexPai is a tablet with a 7.8-inch display. The main feature is that the screen can be folded in half, but unlike some Android devices that used two screens for the effect, the display is a single panel that bends enough for the phone to halve in footprint.

While conventional thinking would have the folding screen on the inside of the phone, similar in concept to a flip phone, the California-based Royole opted to put the screen on the outside of the fold, solving the problem of causing too much stress or creating a crease on the screen.

When flat, it offers a full screen to use, at a resolution of 1920 by 1440 and a pixel density of 308ppi. When folded, the screen divides up into three sections, with the 390 by 1440-resolution spine area able to display messages and notifications, while the front and rear are used more conventionally.

The Royole FlexPai folded and taking a call
The Royole FlexPai folded and taking a call


The folding system allows for the novelty of having a large screen available to view when taking photographs using the 20-megapixel telephoto and 16-megapixel wide-angle camera. Since the cameras are on one side, users can fold the phone and see the preview on both the front and back sides, which also allows the subject to know what the image will look like.

Running on the Android 9.0 fork Water OS 1.0, the Flexpai is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon processor clocked at 2.8GHz, with Adreno 640 graphics and 8 gigabytes of RAM. While it includes 256 gigabytes of storage, it also offers memory card expansion by up to an extra 256 gigabytes, and is powered by a 3,800mAh battery.

Royole initially offered the FlexPai in China on Thursday, priced at between 8,999 to 12,999 yuan ($1,295 to $1,870) depending on the package, with the first phones expected to ship to customers in December.

Royole's sale effectively makes it the first to sell a folding smartphone to consumers, beating out the likes of Samsung and Apple. Samsung was reportedly preparing to unveil its own foldable smartphone, allegedly codenamed "Project Valley," at the company's developer conference later in November.

Apple has also been linked to the development of a foldable smartphone, including rumors it is working with LG on the concept. Analysts have suggested the first iPhone with a foldable display could launch as soon as 2020.

The iPhone maker also as a number of patents and applications under its belt relating to flexible displays and related technology, including hinged devices and wrap-around displays. It has also worked on ideas such as stretchy substrates for attaching components together in a flexible device, and how to enable force gesture controls on similar hardware.
Josh_Arian
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,066member
    If ever there was a device that didn't deserve to be invented, this looks like the poster child!
    mac_dogolsrepressthislolliverCarnageanton zuykovdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 44
    But is it any good?
    How many open/closes will it be guaranteed for (before the material in the flexible bit work hardens)?

    We shall have to wait and see.
    mac_dogdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 44
    BebeBebe Posts: 111member
    Never heard about this company.  Beating the big players to the market doesn't mean a thing. The company just want recognition as being the first IMO.
    magman1979lolliverelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 44
    There isn't all that big a desire of flexible screens, but considering phone screens are still growing in size, a 10" screen iPhone being folded in half for normal use is a possibility, but I think we're 10 years away or more before that comes true, I think no Bezels is the key desire right now.

    As far as being beaten to market goes, I think the under screen fingerprint sensor is that key item, a couple of Smartphone this year have had it, most notably the ONEPlus 6T, I assume flagship Androids will have them by 2019, but it is still unclear that if Apple will ever release an IOS device with Touch ID ever again.

    Also the under screen selfie Cameras and associated sensors are inevitably going to be a thing, well see how well Face ID can shrink the more or less infamous "Notch".

    I point these things out because I'm still a little bit annoyed they removed Touch ID for Face ID when it appears to take up the same screen real estate as Touch ID would, and it is totally un-Apple like to remove features when the alternative isn't clearly better.
  • Reply 5 of 44
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,061member
    Apple out-innovated YET AGAIN!11 Tim Cook, what are you doing??! How will you compete with this??!! I've been an Apple veteran Since the Apple ][, have owned every single Apple product ever made, and clearly this is yet more evidence of Apple losing it's way and continuing on it's downward spiral.
    chiaStrangeDaysberndogrepressthislolliverRayz2016magman1979kingofsomewherehotjony0
  • Reply 6 of 44
    This is the tech world equivalent of some kid jumping online and posting "FIRST". Sure this is the first folding screen phone. I'm sure Apple will be looking at it just so they know what not to do.
    lolliverdysamoriamagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 44
    One of the big issues with foldable screen devices, which is not mentioned in the article, is that the screen cannot be glass even in this large radius hinge example.

    Which means this device uses a thin film plastic screen, to allow it to fold.  And for those people not old enough to know what it was like using touch devices that had plastic screen surfaces in the past, there is a reason why almost all devices out there now use glass.  Not only will the plastic in the most stressed area of the screen eventually discolor, the whole thing is going to be far more prone to scratching - especially given the fact that the screen faces out.

    I totally get the desire for a device that would allow you to double the size of the screen, but I think the better use could be in making a laptop / desktop device, where you could use it in laptop mode, where one section of the screen turns into the keyboard / trackpad and the other acts just like a conventional screen.  Or when in desktop / consumption mode, you fold it open flat to create one large screen.  In a case like this, you could have glass covering 90% of both sides of the screen, with the hinge area being covered in a clear plastic, since it wouldn't be touched normally anyway.
    curtis hannahlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 44
    Have any press been given any hands on time with the actual device yet, because all I see on the website are CGI renders.
    curtis hannahlolliverJosh_Ariandysamorianetroxmattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 44
    anomeanome Posts: 1,153member
    While conventional thinking would have the folding screen on the inside of the phone, similar in concept to a flip phone, the California-based Royole opted to put the screen on the outside of the fold, solving the problem of causing too much stress or creating a crease on the screen.

    It doesn't really solve the problem, it just changes it. Assuming the screen is continuous, the outside edge is being stretched rather than compressed. You can make changes to the back of the screen to try and minimise the stretching, like taking grooves out of the back side, but unless there's actually discontinuity there, I don't think you can really avoid some stress. And then, since it always folds in the same place, the fold becomes a point of weakness, and probably where the screen fails first.

    And that's just considering the physical screen, there's also the issue of getting your signal to the pixels on the fold. Whatever connects them to the data bus is also going to get repeatedly bent.

    I hope they've managed to resolve these issues, because a truly flexible screen would be a great innovation, but until I see how it's put together, I don't know how they can do it without creating a convenient breaking point.

    curtis hannahwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 44
    A "soft" phone or tablet may have some kind of value, but the idea of a foldable screen in general is impractical and of limited utility. When something is folded repeatedly, it will wear out!
    lolliverdysamoriamagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 44
    For me it is absolutely useless future. In which pocket are you going to wear it? You will always need two hands and maybe a foot when using it... Even to answer a call....It is so stupid !
    magman1979
  • Reply 12 of 44
    “Beaten” is a curious word to use. 
    lolliverMplsPCarnagedysamoriamagman1979
  • Reply 13 of 44
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,312member
    looks like a great bill fold for your cash...
    qwerty52
  • Reply 14 of 44
    Can't wait to see people carrying that around in their pockets...

    "Is that a FlexPai in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
    curtis hannahmagman1979
  • Reply 15 of 44
    A "soft" phone or tablet may have some kind of value, but the idea of a foldable screen in general is impractical and of limited utility. When something is folded repeatedly, it will wear out!

    Forget about wearing it out by folding it repeatedly. Just sit on once. It will put Apple #bendgate to shame. :smiley: 
    bonobobwilliamlondonlolliverdysamoriamagman1979
  • Reply 16 of 44
    Does anyone really care about a foldable device that’s not a knife?
    lolliver
  • Reply 17 of 44
    lovemn said:
    Does anyone really care about a foldable device that’s not a knife?
    Laptops, the iPad foldable cases and keyboards, are examples of technology.
  • Reply 18 of 44

    lovemn said:
    Does anyone really care about a foldable device that’s not a knife?
    Nintendo DS was hugely popular.
    As was 3DS.
    As are laptops.

    People want screens to be big, but don't want the full size of the screen to take up storage space along with the rest of the device. If you could double the size of an iPhone screen by only making the device thicker, that would keep it in a pocketable size, but have a much bigger screen than the plus and max size phones when needed.

    This device has many downsides as it is even though I find it an interesting and impressive design. I don't know how it important it is for the screen to actually be continuous, though. Especially with the compromises this device makes. Very close to continuous might be very useful and acceptable.
    edited November 1
  • Reply 19 of 44
    Skeuomorphism.

    Also that reminds me of some other laptop hinge  >:)
    edited November 1 williamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 20 of 44
    Like the white rhino, there was only one of them.
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