The past few months have been rife with rumors regarding Samsung’s “Galaxy X” foldable phone, and reports have also suggested Huawei is working on a similar device of its own. However, both tech giants have been beaten to the market by California-based Royole Corporation, which announced the FlexPai smartphone on Wednesday at a media event in Beijing.
According to BBC News, the FlexPai has a 7.8-inch display once opened and unfolded, but when folded, the device has one screen each in front, on the back, and on the spine. The Royole website explained the technology used when making the phone’s foldable display, noting that the “second-generation, ultra-thin, fully flexible” screen has been bent more than 200,000 times in testing, yet is still capable of offering “outstanding picture quality” to users.
Also included in the website are details on the FlexPai’s other basic specifications. These include a 20-megapixel telephoto camera and 16-megapixel wide-angle camera, which can be used in conjunction with the flexible display to “capture objects at unique angles,” among other functions. The spine display is described as a handy screen for notifications “without interruption,” while the device’s fast-charging technology promises 20 percent additional battery life in the first five minutes.
While the website only specified the “latest” Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset under the FlexPai’s hood, Trusted Reviews speculated that the device is powered by a Snapdragon 8150, which is the first and only mobile processor built on a 7-nanometer process. The publication added that the FlexPai comes in three configurations – 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, 8GB RAM/256GB, and 8GB RAM/512GB – and ships with Water OS, a customized version of the Android operating system.
Per BBC News, Royole announced at its press event that it will be releasing the phone to Chinese consumers on Thursday via three “flash sales,” with prices ranging from 8,999 and 12,999 yuan ($1,290 to $1,863) depending on the configuration. A special version of the device for developers is currently available to order on the company’s website, though deliveries of this version are expected to start by late December.
Despite the FlexPai’s surprise arrival ahead of the foldable phones Samsung and Huawei are expected to unveil in the coming months, early reviews of the device have not been encouraging so far. As noted by BBC News, video demonstrations of Water OS suggest that the custom platform “still needs some work,” while the phone’s weight of 320 grams, which is more than twice the weight of an iPhone XS Max or Samsung Galaxy Note 9, was mentioned as another potential drawback for consumers.