An unknown company has just recently unveiled the first commercially available flexible display smartphone. The Royole FlexPai costs $1300 and has everything flagship devices should have. There’s the Snapdragon 845 and 6/8GB RAM with 128GB storage. It also has a relatively huge 3800mAh battery. And runs Android 9 Pie. But the highlight is obviously the 7.8 inch 1440p AMOLED fold-able display.
The display is bend-able. So you can switch from it being a tablet to being a bulky device – a really bulky phone. Royole have built a custom skin on top of Android called WaterOS (good name) that helps with the switching between Tablet use and Phone use.
So when you fold it, the apps move back into phone mode. And when you open it they drag themselves back to full screen mode. There’s a hinge mechanism that allows the folding and stretching. AMOLED displays can be bent, and the company claims the device can withstand up to 200,000 folds.
This is all good. But what are the use cases for a folding smartphone? And is this something people really want or is this another example that we are at a point in time where companies are unsure of the future, and are just trying out everything?
Both LG and Samsung have been working on fold-able displays. We’ve seen prototypes but never a commercial product. Though Samsung looks to be launching something really soon dubbed the Galaxy X.
I am not against bending displays and I believe there’s many use cases in places like hospitals, entertainment venues and offices. In phones, I still feel like we are yet to see a good use case. Concepts can look really good but the bulkiness and the convenience of having a thin and easy-to-carry smartphone is what has brought us to where we are with flagships today. I doubt we are ready to start carrying bulky devices because they can bend.
Royole have managed to not only have a good bend-able display but batteries too. For a product to not be as bulky as the FlexPai, there needs to be a lot of thought and innovation on how the batteries will be fit, and on how to make the device have a thinner form factor. In the next 5 years or so, we should see incredible developments in batteries and with displays and maybe then a bendable phone will be a good thing to get. Even though I don’t see why. I’d rather have a phone and then a tablet. Than compromise on both to have something that can bend.
Imagine owning an iPad that can be bent to an iPhone. No. Unless someone comes up with something really impressive.