As mobile workers continue to demand more flexibility, and better screen size from their devices, we’ve seen a new race begin in the mobile world – the competition for the first foldable phone.
While a foldable screen might not seem like a productivity boon straight away, it would offer remote workers the versatility and functionality required to work more effectively on the go. Imagine having the immersive experience of a tablet, combined with the portability and simplicity of a phone you can keep in your pocket?
For a while now, there’s been some debate over which major vendor would be the first to break this innovation boundary. LG, Huawei, Samsung, and even Microsoft have all taken their part in the rumour mill.
However, it turns out that none of these companies will become the first to offer a foldable phone after all. They’ve all been beaten to the punch by a small specialist manufacturing company named the “Royole” Corporation.
Introducing the Royole FlexPai
Royole introduced their foldable handset, the “FlexPai” at a Beijing event. When you open the device, you end up with a tablet screen measuring 19.8 cm – much bigger than most tablets on the market, and far more than you’d get from any phone.
When you keep the device folded, you get three separate screens at once, on the rear, spine, and front of the invention. This means that you can keep using your system on-the-go, without having it entirely folded out. This is unique, and somewhat surprising approach, as many leading vendors, had been exploring the idea of a foldable phone that kept the screens tucked away inside – mainly for durability purposes. However, the Royole FlexPai does follow Huawei and Samsung’s plans to create a screen that was free from any seams or breaks in the display.
The Royole Corporation, which only launched in 2012, announced that they will be holding a series of three flash sales to introduce the device to customers in China throughout November. The phones will be between $1,290 and $1,863 each, and Royole has said that it will be delivering slightly altered versions of the devices to overseas developers, with deliveries starting in late December.
Ultimately, no-one expected a little-known underdog to swoop in and steal the show in the foldable tech market. We’ve all been watching the news carefully for signs of further development in a flexible device from Samsung or Huawei, with Samsung stating that it would be ready to promote a device on the 7th of November this year.
However, only days before Samsung may have made its introduction, Royole jumped in front to earn the title of “first ever foldable phone vendor.”
Videos of the FlexPai are quite impressive, but there are some indications that the device could do with some work. The display moves awkwardly between different orientations when you switch from one mode to another, and the device itself weighs 320g – which is a lot to carry around.
In a press release, Carolina Milanesi, Principal Analyst of the Creative Strategies Consultancy said that although the smartphone is impressive, there’s a good chance that it won’t become the best-seller we were all expecting. While Royole may have the opportunity to say that it was the first to create this technology, we’re bound to see some more popular options hitting the market. The good news is that the Royole Corporation is facilitating innovation by putting its technology into the hands of developers, who can continue to perfect the concept.
A Positive Start for the Flexible Phone Era
The FlexPai is an excellent example of what vendors may be able to accomplish when it comes to foldable phones, but there’s still work to be done. Some experts suggest that a major brand may now attempt to purchase Royale to take advantage of their innovative new tech.
In the meantime, the FlexPai may not be destined for greatness, but it demonstrates the power of Royale’s impressive flexible OLED displays. This could be the start of a new era in the mobile device space, where vendors begin to truly embrace the power of flexibility.
There’s no doubt that significant vendors like Huawei and Samsung will be encouraged to work faster on their own creations, now that the FlexPai is there to motivate them.