Chinese device maker Royole has announced what is likely the first foldable smartphone in the world. This device, known as the Royole FlexPai, sports a 7.8-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 by 1440 pixels and an aspect ratio of 4:3. Bending this display will result in the creation of two screens, which have aspect ratios of 16:9 and 18:9. The smartphone manufacturer claims that users may bend its foldable display more than 200,000 times without the screen breaking.
In the images provided by the company, each half of the display will automatically show different content once the user folds the smartphone. For example, the right side of the folded panel may show the home screen while the other side may contain the different widgets that the person commonly uses. The device will automatically detect once the person bends the display, although based on the video shared by industry insider Ice Universe, it may take several seconds before the smartphone displays the appropriate content for the two panels. Furthermore, the device does not fully fold flat due to the handset’s edge screen, which shows notifications like incoming calls, messages, and emails. While this feature allows a person to continue working on an app or watching videos without interruption, it also makes the device bulky when folded.
Aside from being the first device with a foldable display, the Royole FlexPai is also the first device to sport the Snapdragon 8150 SoC, which is reportedly the upcoming flagship chipset offering of the American semiconductor firm Qualcomm. An octa-core CPU running at a maximum clock speed of 2.8GHz and the Adreno 640 GPU comprise this SoC, and this chipset is fabricated using the 7nm process node technology. The device contains 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal flash storage, which could be expanded using a microSD card with a capacity of up to 256GB. The handset also includes a dual camera setup that is equipped with one 16-megapixel sensor and one 20-megapixel module. Both of these sensors support optical image stabilization and autofocus. The handset is powered by a 3800mAh battery, and it also features a dual SIM card slot. The Royole FlexPai ships with Android 9 Pie pre-installed, although the company’s proprietary skin, Water OS 1.0, runs on top of Google’s operating system.
Background: A number of smartphone manufacturers have been developing foldable smartphones over the past few years. Among the companies that are developing foldable handsets include Samsung, LG, and Huawei. Samsung, for example, will reportedly unveil its first foldable Android device at the company’s annual developer conference scheduled next week, and real-life images of this smartphone have already been leaked online. On the other hand, Huawei has stated that its first foldable smartphone will also work with 5G networks, and this handset will likely resemble the Huawei Mate 20 X. LG, for its part, has said that it is also working on a foldable device, but rather than being first, the South Korean tech firm aims to produce the most interesting foldable smartphone.
Impact: The Royole FlexPai showcases what foldable smartphones can do once they become mainstream in the near future. The benefits of having a large display for productivity and entertainment that could be bent into a smaller package might prove enticing to consumers, even if at this point, the FlexPai comes with a price tag of $1,290. Moreover, the handset also highlights the features and advantages offered by Qualcomm’s next-generation chipset offering, the Snapdragon 8150. The performance of the chipset on new handset form-factors will likely be interesting for device makers.