People have been waiting for Samsung’s foldable phone, which partially debuted on Wednesday, November 7. But Rouyu, a little-known Chinese tech company sometimes known as Royole, beat Samsung by introducing its foldable phone a week before.
Samsung unveiled its new phone with an innovative foldable screen on Wednesday at a conference for software developers in San Francisco. The device opens horizontally, in the same way a book does, with technology called “Infinity Flex Display.” Little else was disclosed concerning the phone since its other parts were covered up. When the phone will be available has also not been announced.
However, Samsung is not the first tech company to feature such innovations. On Monday, November 6, Chinese firm Rouyu showed its FlexPai to some members of the press in San Francisco. But wait—the flexible screen foldable phone actually made its debut a week before, on October 31 in Beijing.
Rouyu specializes in creating flexible displays. Their phone features a screen that is 19.8 cm wide and is 7.6mm thick. It can be folded in half, and the screen can be divided into three smaller screens on both front and back, as well as the spine. It’s 320 g, making it quite a bit heavier than the Galaxy Note 9 and the iPhone SX Max.
According to Bill Liu, the CEO of Rouyu, the company built the FlexPai because of two problems smartphones still have—they’re too small for editing documents and watching movies, and they have screens that easily break.
The FlexPai’s OLED screen is printed on a thin sheet of plastic, is resistant to water, and cannot be shattered because it’s not made of any glass. Even if you bend it 200,000 times it will not break, Liu says.
He told the press in San Francisco, “It’s a significant breakthrough. Say goodbye to broken screens.”
The FlexPai functions as both a tablet and a phone and runs on a special Android version called Water OS, made especially for the phone’s flexible screen. The screens can show different videos so that two people can watch various videos. It also has provision for two SIM cards, so that it could function as two phones at once.
The company is taking preorders for the Flex Pai, which begin shipping it to customers in December.
One downside to the Flex Pai, so far, is its price. It’s approximately S$ 1,800 for the 128 GB version (US $1,318), and over S$ 2,000 for the phone with 256 GB (US $1,469). That’s quite a high price for small storage.
Also, some reviewers have found the phone to be cumbersome, due to the bulky hinge in the middle that does not allow it to lie flat. While having a pocket-sized gadget with a big screen seems attractive, this would be something to consider.
At the moment, the Flex Pai is only available in China. Early adopters may want to give it a try or wait until Samsung’s “Infinity Flex Display” model comes out in the near future.