CES is officially in full swing, and there is a lot happening including an interesting device by a relatively unknown company, known as Royole. If you’ve never heard of them, that’s ok, you’re in good company. Founder and CEO Bill Liu said that he wanted it that way. What we didn’t know is that Royole has been quietly working on a way to make a flexible screen since 2012, and their new FlexPai smartphone is a way to showcase that success. The good news is that this is a product you can buy right away. And yes – they were able to beat Samsung to the market with a foldable smartphone. The other good news is that the phone actually works!

In terms of its specs, it has a Snapdragon 855 chipset, either 6 or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage and 16MP+20MP dual camera. And it runs on Andriod 9.0 Pie. But the winning feature is the fact that there is a 7.8-inch AMOLED display that actually folds in half to form a usable smartphone.

But the FlexPai isn’t new. In fact, it first went on a bit of a world tour in late 2018. But at that time, the device wasn’t quite ready for production, which was kind of obvious at that time. But the product we saw at CES seems to be working pretty well. The big question that I would now like to explore is whether or not this is something that people would use. On one hand, we all have the same devices. Regardless of whether or you’re using an Android or iOS. There is a ton of similarities between smartphone devices these days. So maybe the world is ready for this kind of phone.

On the other hand, however, I spend a lot of time and effort (and some money) to ensure that I don’t bend my current iPhone. How trippy would it be to know that you could actually bend your phone? And more specifically, know that you were supposed to bend it? I mean, as impressive as this device is, I’m just not sure that we are ready for a foldable smartphone.

The Royole did come out of nowhere (kind of). Yes, Samsung has been talking about this and working on it for a few years, but nothing has come to fruition. And maybe there’s a good reason for that? In fact, when the FlexPai is unfolded, it kind of resembles a tablet – which is definitely a good thing, but when it’s in phone mode, it’s not quite that straightforward. All of your apps appear on the right side of the phone, where they are supposed to. But if you open an app and rotate the phone, instead of seeing the app move to another part of the screen, you only see the empty home screen. Meaning, they have a few more kinks to work out.

As I mentioned, you are able to buy one of these right now, but there are some technical issues that Royole needs to sort out. We know that the future for smartphones is to improve the displays, and we’ve seen this with edge to edge smartphones, but will it eventually take us to foldable screens? That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, we can turn to Royole to see how it’s done.