The world’s first foldable phone is a hot mess [Royole FlexPai impressions]

by birtanpublished on May 2, 2021

there's a lot of hype around foldable gadgets right now with Samsung and others just months away from launching their first folding phones but a smaller flexible display company called Royale not a typo is getting ahead of them with the flex pay also not a typo it's one of the few really interesting phones of CES because it gives us a very very early glimpse of one of the year's big smartphone trends early is probably the most generous adjective for what royal is showing here more accurately it's a hot mess the hardware is thick and bulky and the

Software is pretty jacked astok as well we all says the flex pay will be gone sell in China first hence the Chinese software on this demo model this thing is supposed to be both a smartphone and a tablet fulfilling the promise we've seen in concept videos for most of the past decade unfurl it for a 7 point 8 inch tablet size display folded up for a more pocketable phone sized experience in reality what well has built is the demonstration of just how hard a good foldable phone is going to be to build because this is not a good phone or a good tablets instead it's a worst-case

Scenario for all the compromises of a foldable hybrid gadget to start with the flex pi is big plasticky and sports enormous bezels especially on the sides around its camera module the screen is fairly chintzy feeling plastic because of course glass doesn't Bend and the hinge is rubberized in stark contrast to the glossy edges of the frame next this device or at least the demo models here at CES don't fully flatten out and it feels mushy as a result there's a slight curve to the display even when it's fully opened out so there's that and when it's folded in on itself with the

Aid of very strong magnets it's gonna feel incredibly awkward to pocket compared to a standard 5 to 6 inch phone and then there's the software oh boy where to start with this software it's running Android 9 Pi with what royal is calling water OS it's a lightly skinned version of Android like you might find on any other Chinese phone packed to the gills with bundled apps it's designed to adapt both the OS and the apps as the device moves between phone and tablet modes which it does poorly that transition between folded and open is key to the Flex PI's main selling point

And it's such a mess right now the device gets easily confused as it switches between opened and closed often not knowing which side of the faulted screen is supposed to be in use and muddling the distinction between landscape and portrait as well even for very early software it's a shockingly janky experience that probably would drive me mad in short order if I was to use this as my daily driver for it's worth other spec sheet is your standard 2019 fare snapdragon 855 six or eight gigs of ram 128 or 256 gigs of storage plus a 39 70

Milliamp hour battery that dual camera array combines 16 plus 20 megapixel sensors behind f 1.8 lenses and it seemed to work okay for a quick few selfies in the mixed lighter oils booth here at CES so there's plenty of power onboard even though the software here feels slapdash and just generally unoptimized if you want a seven point eight inch tablet that can fold in half to just about fit in the pocket well this shows the potential of that idea but also the immense technical hurdles that have kept Samsung busy for the past several years the royal flex pipe

Perfectly demonstrates how foldable tech just isn't there yet and how instead of getting the best of both a phone and a tablet you're actually just getting a device that's bad at being both of those two things that's it for now subscribe for coverage of more hopefully better foldable phones later in 2019 thanks for watching and I'll see you next time you

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