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CES 2019 | Reviews of the Royole FlexPai are coming in - first but flawed foldable phone

Apparently, the FlexPai can be folded over 200,000 times without breaking. (Source: Royole)
Apparently, the FlexPai can be folded over 200,000 times without breaking. (Source: Royole)
Early reviews of Royole’s foldable FlexPai device have come in, and it seems the main attraction of the smartphone is what everyone expected it to be: Its flexibility. The company has done well in beating major players like Samsung and Huawei to the crown of producing the first fully foldable phone, but it has done this by creating a seemingly flawed handset.

There have been plenty of people eagerly getting to grips with the flexible and foldable Royole FlexPai smartphone at CES 2019. Unsurprisingly, many have been wowed by the obvious selling point of the device, but those taking a deeper look at the phone have been less than amazed. TrustedReviews hasn’t been shy about putting this latter feeling into this succinct comment:

...sadly the Royole FlexPai completely sacrifices usability in order to have a bendy screen.

But this is a device that features a high-end Snapdragon 855 SoC, 6 GB of RAM, 16 MP + 20 MP cameras…not to mention a 7.8-inch AMOLED screen that folds. However, having great ingredients doesn’t necessarily result in cooking up a great pudding. Gizmodo UK soon got over the folding gimmick and reported:

Also, the FlexPai doesn't fold flat, which is really annoying.

If an OEM is going to focus on a single feature, it’s best that the particular feature in question works perfectly at least. Of course, it could be that Royole simply rushed out some devices to show at CES 2019 without really worrying too much about refining them to perfection. This comment by phoneArena gives a suggestion as to how Royole could improve the FlexPai:

...the glitchy software shows us that there’s still some considerable work that’s needed before it’s a polished experience.

The folks at TechRadar had some positive comments to make about the FlexPai’s folding, bending, and general flexibility. But there were slightly more damning things to say about operating the device, summed up by this statement:

As a phone, it’s pretty terrible.

Cons included the chunky construction of the smartphone, overall slow performance, and mediocre cameras. However, even with all of this criticism, Royole’s demonstration can still be seen as a success. Clearly there is a lot of excitement about the foldable future for smartphones, and the company can surely tidy up its product some more in the meantime. Plus, the previously little-known unicorn is now being mentioned in the same breath as some of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers.

At least the BBC had something nice to say about a “developer’s version” of the FlexPai that was tested just before CES:

You want to play with it all the time.

You can preorder a FlexPai Developer Model from the company’s website for US$1,318 for the 128 GB model or US$1,469 for the 256 GB model. Royole expects it will take 60-90 days for the phones to ship.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 01 > Reviews of the Royole FlexPai are coming in - first but flawed foldable phone
Daniel R Deakin, 2019-01-11 (Update: 2019-01-11)