Royole FlexPai 2 Review (Ben Sin): ‘The World’s First Foldable Phone’ Is Back With Much Improved Sequel

Well, Royole is back with a sequel, the FlexPai 2, and it is much, much improved over the original.

Royole FlexPai 2
Royole FlexPai 2

Almost two years ago, a Chinese company named Royole beat Samsung and Huawei to the market with a foldable phone.

I reviewed it, and given that it was the very first device of its kind in an ambitious new line of products, I graded it on a curve and said it was respectable, even though the device was undeniably bulky, hard to use and not suitable for the mass market.

Well, Royole is back with a sequel, the FlexPai 2, and it is much, much improved over the original. It’s still a bit bulky, but it’s easier to use. As for if it’s suitability for the mass market? It depends. I’ll explain this last point in a bit.

Design and hardware

FlexPai 2.
FlexPai 2. BEN SIN
The FlexPai 2
The FlexPai 2 BEN SIN

The overall design philosophy of the FlexPai 2 is the same as the original: it’s a rectangular tablet that folds horizontally in half to become a smaller, square-like “smartphone.” I put quote marks around that because the wider and thicker form factor makes it unlike any other smartphone on the market.

The improvements over the first version are noticeable right away: the FlexPai 2 now folds completely flat, whereas the original’s folding point (a.k.a. the hinge) left a half-inch gap.

Speaking of the hinge, the first FlexPai’s hinge was covered in this weird kevlar fabric and closed shut with noticeable screws. It felt a bit…homemade. The hinge this time around is all metal and looks like a highly engineered piece of machinery.

The Royole FlexPai 2's hinge (left) and the first FlexPai's hinge (right).
The Royole FlexPai 2’s hinge (left) and the first FlexPai’s hinge (right). BEN SIN
The Royole FlexPai 2's hinge (left) and the first FlexPai's hinge (right).
The Royole FlexPai 2’s hinge (left) and the first FlexPai’s hinge (right). BEN SIN

At 12.9mm (almost exactly half an inch) thick when folded and weighing 339g (0.7lbs), the FlexPai 2 is still bulky, but more manageable than the original. I’ve been able to put it in my pocket and not have it look weird or weigh down one side of my pants.

When folded, the FlexPai’s 60Hz OLED screen wraps around the device, giving it a screen on its front and back. The front screen measures 5.5 inches, with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It’s a very wide form factor for modern smartphones and makes the device slightly hard to hold. The back screen is a 5.4-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio—the smaller form factor due to the existence of a camera module, too. More

By FORBES

Ben Sin

I’m a Chinese-American journalist in Hong Kong, covering consumer tech in Asia. Before focusing on this exciting beat, I was a general culture writer and editor with bylines in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, New York Magazine, among others. Feel free to email me at bencsin@gmail.com