Recap: Many people think that the first foldable phone to go on sale was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, but it wasn’t. Chinese company Royole beat the tech giant to the punch when it launched the FlexPai last year. Being the first to market with a new technology isn’t always a good thing, of course; the device was clunky, ugly, and the software struggled to adapt to the folding screen. Now, Royole has released a successor, which it promises is a lot better.
Way back in 2018, when most folding phones were still in the concept stage, Royole revealed the FlexPai, a phone-tablet hybrid device that looked pretty terrible in its first incarnation. An improved version was shown off at CES 2019, but it was still far from something people wanted.
This is the “world’s first foldable screen phone” released by Rouyu Technology, which will use the Snapdragon 8150 processor, but its design is very rough, just to seize the “first”, this is a futures product. pic.twitter.com/M0v9o2z0Bw
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) October 31, 2018
In March, Royole said it was working on a FlexPai 2 that addressed the problems of the first device, which felt more like a prototype. The new foldable launches today in China with a starting price of 9,988 yuan (about $1,471). You can see it around the 38-minute mark in the video below.
The FlexPai 2 features a 7.8-inch screen (unfolded), which, like the original, is likely to be made of flexible plastic. It measures 6.3mm thick when opened out and 12.8mm when folded, making it thinner than the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (16.8mm). The gap when the device is closed is pretty small, and it certainly looks a lot nicer than its predecessor. Royole says the FlexPai 2 is 40 percent thinner and lighter than its previous foldable.
Elsewhere, there’s a 1,920 x 1,440 resolution that’s slightly lower than other foldables. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC, has 5G support, Wi-Fi 6, USB-C, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, 256GB or 512GB of storage, and a 4,450 mAh battery. There’s also a four-camera array consisting of a 64MP wide, 16MP ultrawide, 8MP with 3x optical zoom, and a 32MP ‘Portrait’ selfie cam. The hinge, often the Achilles’ heel of folding phones, is waterproof and “mechanically robust” so it can withstand 1.8 million folds, apparently.
The software, one of the worst elements of the original, is said to work much better with the foldable display, thanks to the Android 10-based Water OS 2.0 that comes with multi-window support, letting users split screens across several apps and drag and drop between them.
No word yet on an international release date, so we don’t know if the FlexPai 2 will launch outside of China.