FlexPai is the next biggest trend in smartphone and tablet design and technology. This device is the world’s first foldable tablet/smartphone to hit the market. It is brought to you by The Royole Corporation (also known as Rouyu) based in China. They have been developing flexible and foldable displays for years. “What people really want is a way to combine portability and a large-screen video experience into one device. Even if the device itself is rigid, at least it’s portable,” said Royole’s CEO Dr Bill Liu.
As a tablet, the FlexPai is 7.8 inches with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,440. When folded down the middle, the tablet becomes a smartphone with three displays. There is a “primary” screen on the front side with a resolution of 810 x 1,440, a “secondary” screen on the back with a resolution of 720 x 1,440, and the spine is a display as well with a resolution of 390 x 1,440. The spine screen displays notifications, such as incoming calls, emails, and text messages.
When the device is folded it can automatically detect which display you’re using, turning the other one off. Although, reviews did state that there were often stutters and skips in the software figuring out which display it should be using. The device uses Water OS as its operating system, a modified version of Android 9 Pie. Royole says they will keep the software up to date and that the device will be upgradable to use 5G connectivity.
There are some instances where both screens can be used at the same time too. For example, when taking a photo of someone, you can show the viewfinder on both the front and the back display. This allows the subject to be able to see themselves while they’re being photographed on the secondary screen while you can see the photo you are taking of them on the primary screen. Speaking of taking photos, the FlexPai has 2 cameras, one 20 megapixels and the other 16 megapixels. Since the sides of the tablet can be folded the sensors can take pictures from angles not available with a normal flat phone.
The display has been proven to withstand being folded over 200,000 times before failure so it can last for several years before it shuts down or needs replacement. Even so, critics claim it is very much a first-generation product, a bit sluggish and with apps opening accidentally demonstrating that the company’s custom Water OS is probably not the most robust operating system just yet. But the foldable display does work nicely as advertised.
The device also comes with an Octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series CPU running at 2.8GHz, supports MicroSD memory cards, and has a 3800 mAh battery, which Royole claim can be fully charged within an hour with the included charger. However, some people may not like that the device has no standard headphone jack, but still supports the use of headphones with a Type-C connection or Bluetooth.
The company is selling a version of the FlexPai worldwide on the official website as a “developer edition.” It’s priced at $1,318 for the 6GB (RAM)/128GB (SSD) version, and at $1,460 for the 8GB/256GB edition, an 8GB/512GB version is likely to be released soon too. All of these versions are supposed to ship sometime in late December 2018.