Samsung has been the focus of much of the foldable smartphone talk in recent months as we await the arrival of the device it teased in November. We're still waiting to find out when that device might launch, but before it does, another company has not only announced a foldable phone, but released it as well.
The Royole FlexPai is a foldable Android smartphone that's being shown off at CES 2019. The phone is actually already in sale in China, and Royole is taking orders for developer models in the U.S. The price? A cool $1,318 for the base model with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM or $1,469 if you'd like to step up to the model with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.
When unfolded, the FlexPai gives you a 7.8-inch AMOLED display with 1920x1440 resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio. When folded up, you've got three different screen options: a primary 1440x810 display with 16:9 aspect ratio, a secondary 1440x720 screen with 18:9 aspect ratio, and the edge display that has a 1440x390 resolution and 21:6 aspect ratio.
Royole has equipped the FlexPai with some high-end features, including a 2.84GHz octa-core Snapdragon 855 processor and a dual camera setup with 16MP and 20MP snappers. There's a microSD card slot for adding more storage, too, along with dual SIM slots, a USB-C port, and a 3970mAh battery.
On the software side, the Royole FlexPai is running a custom Water OS user interface on top of Android 9.0 Pie.
Royole is showing the FlexPai off at CES, and The Verge managed to spend a little time with the device. The device is described as snapping closed when you fold it and requiring some force to open and close, which helps to give it a sturdy feeling. However, the screen is said to be of "poor quality" with color banding and dim areas in the middle, and the software sounds like it's a bit wonky, getting confused when you fold and unfold the device and stacking apps on top of one another.
The hardware of the Royole FlexPai looks fine if a little prototype-y, but the real draw here is a foldable smartphone that actually works and is in your hands. Unsurprisingly, it's a little expensive since this is still pretty new tech. That price combined with its apparently less-than-stellar performance means that you may not want to rush over to Royole's website to buy a FlexPai to make your daily driver. Still, it's pretty cool to see a working foldable phone launch, and it makes us excited for what's ahead.