Royole FlexPai Hands-On: Did We Just Meet The iPhone Killer?

CES 2019 isn’t an event we would normally associate with big smartphone announcements, with Mobile World Congress around the corner, yet this year a company stole the spotlight with their handset. Royole, a tech startup that grew at an astounding rate in a short time, unveiled the FlexPai, world’s first truly foldable phone, there.

FlexPai has been on our minds since late fall, when it became available for pre-order on the Chinese market and as a dev option for US buyers. At CES, it was the first place we stopped and… it didn’t disappoint.

What we had the opportunity to test was a functional phone, not just a concept or prototype. Unlike some hinged smartphone iterations, the FlexPai’s display isn’t disrupted by an unattractive middle line but has a truly seamless display.

We folded and unfolded the screen and saw with our own eyes how the apps shift and are resized automatically to fit the two different modes: tablet and phone.

The novelty of the screen makes it the perfect, delayed Christmas gift for early adopters and a reaaally tempting offer for tech trendsetters.

Is it enough to be an iPhone killer, though? It’s hard to say.

The price does set it in the flagship category, Royole selling the 256GB storage variant at $1,469 for developers. The specs are nothing to frown at, either: up to 8GB of RAM. 2.8Ghz, octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 1920 x 1440 display resolution when fully expanded, two cameras with 20 and 16MP and a 3,800 mAh battery.

But after seeing it in the flesh and playing with it at the booth, do we think you’d buy it instead of an iPhone or an Android flagship of similar performance?

Hardly. Faced with the option to choose a true-and-tried smartphone with strong OS, verified performance over time and thinner body than FlexPai, you’d probably go for the first. We believe it will be a while until users are comfortable with the new user experience (folding and unfolding it) and the companies bring a very thin, very light foldable phone that fits your pocket and shows few to zero bugs.

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