Royole, a U.S.-based Chinese startup, is drawing attention at CES 2019 by displaying the world’s first foldable smartphone. Yet the “FlexPai” phone from Royole is an out-folding smartphone, while the foldable phone that Samsung Electronics is preparing to unveil soon is a more sophisticated in-folding type.
Royole is a six-year-old company with its headquarters located in California, United States and its production plant in Shenzhen, China.
When Royole first released the FlexPai in China last October, it did not receive much attention from the market because it looked less than perfect with its uneven display surface and seemingly questionable durability.
However, the FlexPai succeeded in catching visitors’ eyes at the exhibition. Royole said, "The phone can be folded 200,000 times without any problem. Users will experience no inconvenience in everyday use."
The FlexPai is equipped with a 7.8-inch flexible AMOLED display. When the device is unfolded, it becomes a tablet, but when folded in half, it becomes a smartphone. Users can use it as a tablet when they play a game or watch a movie and use it as a smart phone by folding it. If users want to conserve battery power, they can fold the device and only use one side of the screen.
Royole showcased its display technology by applying the flexible AMOLED display to shirts, hats, handbags and Bluetooth speakers. "Our flexible AMOLED display is the thinnest in the world. It is only 0.01mm thick," Royole said. However, when the FlexPai is folded, it is twice as thick as ordinary smart phone, too thick to be put in a small pocket or a bag.
Another disadvantage of the FlexPai is that it is equipped with a proprietary operating system (OS) that is not commonly used like Google and Android. The product can be easily broken when dropped or struck as it is an out-folding phone, and it is less durable than an in-folding smartphone.