The world’s first (officially available) folding smartphone, the Royole FlexPai, is getting a sequel

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In all the fuss of Samsung taking centre stage (here in South Africa, anyway) in the folding phone category, it might have been easy to miss the world’s first folding smartphone. That’d be the Royole FlexPai, an oddly-named device… which is fine, because it’s oddly-shaped as well. That phone, first revealed in January 2019, wasn’t especially good. This next one, the Royole FlexPai 2, is supposedly better.

Know when to fold ’em

The sequel to the phone that got there first (but hasn’t gotten to South Africa yet) was shown off in a recent presentation by Royole (watch it in the video above — jump to 38:00 if it’s being difficult but it should automatically begin there). Here you’ll get a decent idea of what it can do and how it works in practise. It… well, it folds. It’s also larger than expected, both folded in half and at its full size.

What we can’t get over is just how ballsy Royole is being with its handset. Huawei’s Mate Xs takes a similar approach to Royole’s design but both Samsung and Motorola have opted to protect their delicate folding screens by concealing them when the handset’s not in tablet mode. Royole’s gone and left the screen on the outer side, so you’ve got a two-sided smartphone screen when folded and a much larger tablet when it’s open.

Putting some specs on

The screen conceals some impressive tech — and the display itself isn’t half bad either, an 1,920 x 1,440 OLED panel that’s either 7.8in in size when open or 5.5in + 5.4in when closed. Beneath the skin, there’s a Snapdragon 865, up to 12GB of RAM (and 512GB of storage) and four rear cameras.

The heavy lifting is done by a 64MP sensor, with a 16MP ultra-wide, 8MP telephoto and a 32MP portrait camera backing it up. Below the cameras you’ll find a touchpad, because there’s no room for wasted space any more, that’ll wake the screen if you double-tap it and control various apps so you’re not poking that sensitive display quite so much. The whole lot is powered by a 4,450mAh battery. Oh, yes, and it’ll support 5G, obviously.

As to the cost? There’s no pricing outside China just yet but in that country it’ll cost ¥9,988 (for the 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage version) which translates to about R24,000 here in South Africa. Even factoring in import costs, shipping and customs, you’ll probably wind up paying less for one of these than for Samsung’s Galaxy Fold 2.

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