Royole FlexPai’s foldable phone returns at CES 2019

There was a chance Samsung's foldable phone prototype could have been at CES, but rival Royole is flying solo

Royole FlexPai's foldable phone returns at CES 2019
Royole FlexPai's foldable phone returns at CES 2019

There was a moment at Samsung’s developer conference in November that tried to tease us with a glimpse of the future.

A dramatic reveal where, with the lights dimmed, senior vice president of mobile marketing Justin Denison pulled a phone out of his pocket and unfolded it — transforming it into a tablet that would bend over backward to fit in your pocket. Two days later, it was shown up by another folding device: the Royale FlexPai.

Samsung’s mystery device quietly went back into Denison’s pocket, and we braced ourselves for an eventual reveal at CES 2019. But it never came. Instead, Royole FlexPai is the talk of CES — and if you live in China, you can buy it right now.

In fact, the FlexPai has been available in Beijing since October, and was set to start shipping to developers in the US and UK back in December. The world’s first foldable phone didn’t just beat Samsung to CES, it beat them to market.

So why isn’t this huge step forward in mobile technology the talk of CES? Well, it’s kind of hard to track down. We know the FlexPai is around at CES, but it doesn’t seem to be on public display on the CES show floor. Fortunately, we got an early look at the device back in November. Here’s what CNET’s Lynn La had to say back then:

In the US and UK, you can preorder a developer’s model, which ships out in December as well. The FlexPai costs $1,318 (£1,209) for the 6GB of RAM/128GB variant and $1,469 (£1,349) for the 8GB of RAM/256GB version. (Australian pricing wasn’t released, but that converts to about AU$2,180 and AU$2,440, respectively.)

The phone features a bendable 7.8-inch AMOLED screen that’s made out of flexible plastic and has a 1440p resolution. Running along the back of the FlexPai is a hinge, where you can bend the device in half as if you’re closing a book. More info