Royole beat the Samsungs, Huaweis, and Motorolas of the world to producing a smartphone with a folding screen. I suppose the company gets some credit for being first, but the resulting product wasn’t a very good one and felt more prototype than consumer device — both in terms of hardware and software. Now, Royole has returned with the FlexPai 2 and claims it has corrected some of the design flaws of the original.
The company’s second foldable phone, due sometime in the second quarter, features a 7.8-inch flexible display like the original. But this time around, Royole says it’s using a “third-generation Cicada Wing fully-flexible display” and has switched to a new, more robust hinge design “with no gap” in between the hinge and rest of the phone. The display gets 50 percent brighter than the one on the original FlexPai, and Royole promises “the smoothest folding experience in the industry even after more than 200,000 bends.” It can reach a minimum bend radius of 1mm, so you won’t have the gap of the Galaxy Z Flip or Fold.
Durability remains a genuine concern in this category (especially considering the sky-high prices of foldable phones so far), with some Motorola Razr reviews mentioning unpleasant creaking sounds from its hinge mechanism. Samsung has continued improving in this area with the Galaxy Z Flip, but it’s still a very delicate device.
Royole was first, but it didn’t mean much
Just by virtue of the display size, Royole claims the FlexPai 2 has the “highest movie playing area” of foldable competitors — even with its 4:3 aspect ratio, which isn’t an ideal match for movies and cinematic content. Internal upgrades include a Snapdragon 865 processor (and “global” 5G compatibility), UFS 3.0 flash storage, and LPDDR5 RAM.
Perhaps more important for Royole than the FlexPai 2 is the news that the company will source its Cicada Wing display to other phone makers including ZTE for their upcoming products. Royole has shown a big interest in being a component maker for other companies and has tried to demonstrate all sorts of use cases for its flexible screens.
Obviously, these boasts of improved hardware should be taken with a grain of salt; remember, the first FlexPai left a lot to be desired, and Royole has a lot to prove if it wants to be in the same conversation as Samsung and Huawei. It might’ve been first, but that came at the cost of quickly being surpassed.