Royole beat the Samsung, Huawei and Motorolas of the world to produce a smartphone with a folding screen. I suppose the company gets some credit for being the first, but the resulting product was not very good and felt more prototype than a consumer device, both in terms of hardware and software. Now Royole has returned with the FlexPai 2 and claims it has fixed some of the design flaws in the original.
The company’s second foldable phone, to be delivered sometime in the second quarter, features a flexible 7.8-inch screen like the original. But this time, Royole says it is using a “third-generation cicada wing fully flexible display” and has switched to a new, more robust hinge design “with no gap” between the hinge and the rest of the phone. The display becomes 50 percent brighter than that of the original FlexPai, and Royole promises “the smoothest folding experience in the industry even after more than 200,000 curves.” 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 high prices of foldable phones so far), and some Motorola Razr reviews mention unpleasant cracking sounds of its hinge mechanism. Samsung has continued to improve in this area with the Galaxy Z Flip, but it is still a very delicate device.
By screen size alone, Royole claims that the FlexPai 2 has the “highest movie playback area” of folding competitors, even with its 4: 3 aspect ratio, which is not an ideal match for movies and cinematographic content. Internal updates include a Snapdragon 865 processor (and “global” 5G compatibility), UFS 3.0 flash storage, and LPDDR5 RAM.
Perhaps more important to Royole than the FlexPai 2 is the news that the company will supply its Cicada Wing display to other phone manufacturers, including ZTE, for its upcoming products. Royole has shown great interest in being a component manufacturer for other companies and has tried to demonstrate all kinds of use cases for its flexible displays.
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 show if you want to be in the same conversation as Samsung and Huawei. It could have been the first, but that came at the cost of being quickly overcome.