Royole’s bendy-screen FlexPai phone unveiled in China
A little-known California-based company has laid claim to creating the “world’s first foldable phone”.
Royole Corporation – a specialist in manufacturing flexible displays – unveiled the FlexPai handset at an event in Beijing.
When opened, the device presents a single display measuring 7.8in (19.8cm) – bigger than many tablets.
But when folded up, it presents three separate smaller screens – on the front, rear and spine of the device.
The six-year-old company said it would hold three “flash sales” to consumers in China on 1 November to offer the first product run.
The phones will be priced between 8,999 and 12,999 yuan ($1,290 to $1,863; £1,011 to £1,460) depending on the memory and storage specifications selected.
In addition, Royole said it would also offer a slightly different version of the devices to developers across the world the same day.
It intends to start deliveries in “late December”.
The launch has caught many industry watchers by surprise.
It was widely believed Samsung or Huawei would be the first to sell such a device to the public.
Samsung was expected to preview its efforts at an event in San Francisco on 7 November, but is not understood to be ready to put a product on sale.
Another company-watcher added that he doubted the FlexPai would ever be produced in large numbers.
“Royole has carried out several publicity stunts over the years to showcase its flexible OLED [organic light-emitting diode] displays,” said Dr Guillaume Chansin from Irimitech Consulting.
“The FlexPai is probably another stunt.
“Royole is building its first OLED factory and it is now trying to compete directly with other display manufacturers such as Samsung and LG.”