The World's First Folding Smartphone Is Here - And It's Kind Of Crappy

Image: Royole

The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy X has been beaten at the final hurdle. A rival manufacturer from China has unveiled the world's first folding smartphone, a 7.8-inch monster allegedly powered by a Snapdragon 8150 CPU.

If the leaked videos are any indication, this technology isn't ready for prime time just yet. See for yourself below.

Royole is a Chinese technology firm specialising in flexible displays and sensors. With all the hoopla surrounding Samsung's foldable smartphone, the company appears to have hastily constructed a rival device to cash in on the impending craze.

The result - dubbed the 'FlexPai' - was recently unveiled at a special launch event in Beijing. Noteworthy specs purportedly include a next-generation Snapdragon 8150 processor, a dual-lens camera featuring a 20-megapixel sensor, 8GB of RAM and a hefty 256GB of internal storage.

But its main claim to fame is obviously the folding display - a mammoth 7.8-inch AMOLED with a native resolution of 1920 x 1440 pixels. Intriguingly, the screen folds outwards, resulting in two smaller displays on either side of the phone. (This is a departure from the latest Galaxy X rumours, which suggest a screen that folds inwards like a book.)

According to a BBC report, the phone is available to buy in China right now, with prices starting at the yuan equivalent of $US1290.

Unfortunately, it appears Royole may have rushed to market a little too quickly with this thing. A video shared by Ice Universe depicts a decidedly unwieldy contraption that fails on responsiveness, portability and looks. In an accompanying tweet, Ice Universe described the device as "very rough", a shortcoming it blames on Royole's desire to be first.

Here's a video from the event. (Skip to the 30 second mark to see the folding mechanism in action.)

As you can see, the FlexPai doesn't seem particularly easy to fold and the process causes the UI to briefly wig out. The folded mode is also way too bulky to be practical. The whole thing comes across as more of a gimmick than a game changer.

Hopefully, Samsung (not to mention Huawei, LG , Lenovo and Apple) will be able to make the concept more compelling. Our fingers remain crossed.

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