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The world's first folding phone is charming and horrible

The Royole FlexPai is the type of device that companies jostle when they feel the absolute need to be the first to use a new technology. I do not blame Royole, a five-year-old company that was literally founded to develop and sell flexible displays, as it faced the existential threat of Samsung entering its flight and flight with a competing back-up device. Royole launched the FlexPai in a hurry and let the whole world admire its incredible and collapsible horror.

Today, I became familiar with FlexPai and appreciated the malfunction of most of its software. But let's talk about hardware first. Measuring 7.8 inches diagonally, this is an extended mode Android tablet that becomes two, not one, on Android phones when it's closed and flexed. Yes, Royole is apparently a very ambitious company. It provides two SIM card slots and attempts to provide an automatic detection system that displays only the content in the middle of the folded screen it faces at a given time. One of the two phones is assigned as primary and its contents are spread all over the tablet when the device is open.

You get a full screen resolution of 1920 x 1440, which is reduced by less than half in phone mode, thanks in large part to the large, unused OLED screen strip that wraps the large-arch hinge. Nevertheless, a pixel density of 308ppi is sufficient to give the screen a reasonably clean appearance. The biggest problem is that it is simply of poor quality. During the 40 minutes I spent with the FlexPai, I noticed bands of colors, strange dark areas in the center of the screen and the type of hyper-saturation that characterized AMOLED screens first and foremost. second generation of Samsung from many years ago.

Royole made the FlexPai robust. At first, I was afraid of breaking it when I approached the fully folded position, but that's when it just fits neatly and rigidly. In fact, it takes a lot of force for the user to open and close, which gives me a reassuring feeling that he can withstand rough handling. An important reason for my reluctance to be over-enthusiastic about alienation is the misconception that they are even more fragile than modern smartphones. But the Royole FlexPai seems to have been designed to challenge this notion.

As expected, FlexPai's main problem is its software and basic operation. Every time you turn on or fold / unfold the device, it becomes deeply confused and scared. I saw applications stack on top of each other and overlap with widgets when the tablet went into phone mode. I accidentally threw the camera more than once. Automatic switching between the two phones is not intuitive. Royole's software is called Water OS, and I really felt out of reach. Logic and predictability are very important every time you take this device.

If you think that the Royole FlexPai is a kind of concept of the distant future, know that it is already on sale in China for 8,999 yuan. That equates to about US $ 1,320 in US currency, and Royole would gladly sell him a developer edition for the same price here in the US if he likes the weird and weird oddity offered by this folding tablet.

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