The world’s first foldable phone gets a next-gen model with 5G

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Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Chinese phone-maker Royole put itself on the map when it beat Samsung and Huawei to the punch in releasing the world’s first foldable phone last year. Never mind that it was a spectacular failure. This week the company launched a next-generation version of that phone, the Flexpai 2, during an online event streamed from the Chinese city of Shenzhen on Tuesday.

Royole’s latest foldable, which opens and shuts like a book, extends into a 7.8-inch screen when its outward-facing flexible screen is unfurled. It also has the newest Snapdragon 865 chipset, a 4,450-mAh battery and a quad-camera module. Its 5G capability has nine different bands covering regions including the US, Europe and China, according to Bill Liu, CEO of Royole. 

The Flexpai 2 has a 40% thinner and lighter design than its predecessor, Liu said. The Flexpai 2 measures about 0.24 inches thick when flat, and about half an inch folded, which makes it thinner than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold 2. 

One of the key upgrades, according to the company, was made to its hinge, which runs along the back of the device. Royole claims the wearproof and “mechanically robust” hinge can withstand 1.8 million folds. CNET has not been able to verify those claims.

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Royole says its Flexpai 2 lets you do three different tasks at once due its to multiwindow support.


Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

The original FlexPai, which was unveiled at CES 2019, has a bendable 7.8-inch AMOLED screen made of flexible plastic and a 1440p resolution. But the foldable drew widespread criticism for its a clunky, prototype-like design, buggy software and an unimpressive user interface. Royale says it’s fixed the issues that plagued the first-gen foldable. Since its launch, the original FlexPai has mostly been forgotten due to stiff competition from foldable phone rivals such as the Motorola Razr, Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate XS. 

Backed up by 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, the Flexpai 2 is available on Royole’s website  for 9,999 yuan, (converts to about $1,470, £1,150 AU$2,040,). International release details were not shared. It will run on Android-based Water OS 2.0 and has multiwindow support, allowing you to split screens across several apps and drag and drop between them. 

Key Specs

  • Processor: Snapdragon 865
  • Display: 7.8-inch flexible OLED display
  • Resolution: 1,920×1,440 pixels
  • Cameras: 64 megapixel (main), 32-megapixel (selfie portrait), 8-megapixel  telephoto, ultra wide camera (116 field of view)
  • Battery: 4,450 mAH
  • Software: Android 10
  • UFS 3.0 storage
  • Dual speakers
  • 5G capability



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