While Samsung’s much-talked Infinity Flex smartphone is still in the prototype stage, Royole has managed to give tech enthusiasts a hands-on with the final version of its FlexPai device at CES 2019. The world’s first commercially available bendable smartphone is available to pre-order, but the price isn’t for the faint of heart as Royole is letting the handset go from £1,209.
Under the hood, Royole’s FlexPai doesn’t offer anything to brag about, sporting a now-lacklustre Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. The choice between 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage is more in line with competitors; however the latter costs an eye-watering £1,349.
Of course, the display is the real attraction here, with Royole endowing the device with its 2nd generation, ultrathin, fully flexible technology. The AMOLED screen is 7.8-inches when fully stretched out in its ‘tablet mode’, sporting 1440p resolution. Thanks to an accordion-like hinge, this can be folded in half like a book, presenting its smartphone function.
Unlike most other bendable devices showcased throughout 2018, the FlexPai leaves both sides of its screen facing outward when folded over. This allows users to choose between the 16:9 portion of the display, and the 16:8 side with a thicker bezel housing the 16 MP+20 MP front-facing camera. The numbers might not be as high as we’re used to seeing, but Google has proven with its Pixel 3 range that software tricks can sometimes mean more than hardware.
Developers in Beijing have been working with the company’s Water OS since October, with UK and US developers gaining access as of December, last year. Water OS is layered on top of Google’s Android 9 Pie, reacting to the many different orientations that users can choose from.
During his time with the FlexPai, Leo stated that he was “impressed” with the pure curves shown on other demos of Royole’s bendable displays but didn’t seem as taken with the hinge on the FlexPai. This technology is certainly in its early stages, and has allowed Royole to make the history books in beating Samsung and Huawei to the mark. It does beg the question as to whether more funding and resources will make for a better end product from Royole’s competitors.
KitGuru Says: While I’m impressed at the dual functionality of the smartphone, the sheer thickness of the FlexPai when folded looks offputting. A two-in-one device certainly looks to be an interesting way forward, but given that the smartphone mode would presumably be used vastly more than the tablet mode, it’s important not to diminish the experience. Do you think that the FlexPai has a market?