The smartphone rumor mill has been buzzing for years with hints that Korean tech giant Samsung was on the verge of creating a practical, foldable phone. Even if those rumors are finally true, it looks like the foldable phone race has been won by the relatively unknown company Royole and its FlexPai.
As to whether the result is actually good or not is another question.
There’s no need to understand the speaker in the video—the demonstration speaks for itself.
The FlexPai is paperback-sized when folded. It opens to about the size of a small tablet (iPad mini, maybe a Kindle), but doesn’t really flatten; there’s still a hump down the center. The display looks useful enough, with quick touch action, but it’s hyper-reflective and a little lumpy in general.
Obviously the 7.8-inch FlexPai still works while folded, but it looks like a pretty clumsy experience in a world featuring brilliant hi-def displays and apps that open with the speed of thought.
That Royole has developed their bendy smartphone enough for it to go on sale as of October 31 is impressive, and according to The Verge, prices are in the iPhone XS range, about $1,290.
The fact is, though, Samsung’s folding smartphone has a preview date and it seems—by virtue of name recognition alone—poised to completely eclipse Royole’s accomplishment, whether it’s ready for store shelves or not.
Here’s SlashGear on the Samsung unveiling to come:
The folding phone will be previewed at the Samsung Developer Conference 2018, SDC, which takes place in San Francisco, CA next week. Importantly, it won’t just be a hardware demo, as we’ve seen from Samsung Display before. Instead there’ll be detail as to just why we might actually find folding phones an improvement over current form-factors.
“We will provide a multitasking environment that allows users to quickly and easily perform multiple tasks at the same time,” the company explained on the call, Chosun reports. Speculation about that UI has varied, but one prediction has Samsung’s folding phone offering a smaller display area when closed for casual use, but then opening out into a significantly larger panel for greater productivity.
The upshot is we’re getting there. Royole might be first to market, but it may just be a forerunner of the future of smartphones in general. Apple might even get in on the act—but we’ll believe that when we see it.