While Samsung largely dominates the foldable phone market, with Huawei now taking a backseat and Motorola’s Razr successor nowhere yet in sight, it can’t really claim to have been the first. That title belongs to Chinese OEM Royale whose FlexPai was quickly pushed to the background after a few months in the limelight. With the FlexPai 2, it’s trying to reclaim some of that prestige through a pricing game that, unfortunately, may not matter that much to markets outside of China.
The FlexPai 2 is what Huawei’s Mate X would have been had the embattled Chinese company launched a new model this year. Royale’s foldable follows the same outie design which it started, with the camera running down one of the sides, resulting in an uneven split between a 5.5-inch “main” screen an a 5.4-inch “rear” screen. It also sports the somewhat latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, which immediately gives it 5G capabilities, at least for some markets in China and Europe.
It isn’t just a simple specs upgrade, though, and Royale wants to make sure everyone knows it has the most durable hinge and foldable screen in the market. Its boast is that it has been tested for over 1.8 million folds, significantly higher than the common 200,000 folds. That’s party thanks to its third-generation Cicada Wing fully flexible screen and its stepless 3S hinge.
The cameras have also been upgraded to a 64MP main shooter, a 32MP portrait camera, a 16MP ultra-wide camera, and an 8MP telephoto. No front-facing camera, of course, since the back cameras are also the front. New to this year’s model is a touch-sensitive strip at the bottom of the camera array that can be tapped to fake up the phone or double-tapped to automatically split the screen layout.
With all of these features, the 9,988 RMB price tag, roughly $1,500, for a model with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage is definitely a steal in comparison to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and even the older Huawei Mate Xs. The company’s relatively unknown reputation and the availability of the Royale FlexPai 2 in global markets may make that price advantage moot.