Last year was a period of long-awaited tumult in the mobile industry.
After years of stagnant, half-way attempts at “innovation” which were really incremental changes occasionally masked with upsale tactics (I’m looking at you, Moto Mods), we finally saw major shifts foreshadowing upheaval in the smartphone field. The ancient ivory obelisk of Apple is a particularly cogent canary in this mineshaft with the mega-company hemorrhaging the full value of Facebook in the last 90 days.
Royole has caused a shockwave in a stagnant landscape.
Models heavily reliant on re-marketing annually modified products are no longer viable in an arena where legitimate change is on-boarding from a bevy of sophisticated new players.
Forward in our attention on this front is Royole, a company of previous little renown in the US that caused an industry shockwave when it beat all established brands to the board with the world’s first truly flexible mobile smart display.
What should I know about Royole?
Royole is the brainchild of Stanford engineering graduates who recognized early on the top-level conflict between portability and screen real estate. To founder and CEO Dr. Bill Liu, the resolution was an inevitable one: the future would be foldable.
“The Royole FlexPai foldable smartphone provides mobile phone users with a revolutionary, different experience compared to traditional phones,” said Liu. “It perfectly solves the contradiction between the high-definition large-screen experience and portability, which introduces a whole new dimension to the human-machine interface. The phone’s inherent design will forever change the consumer electronics industry, as well as the way people interact with and perceive their world.”
Royole's FlexPai flexible screen represents the new era of the screen as the center of our culture.
Royole already has a number of firsts under their belt. In 2014, just two years after their founding, the company created the world’s thinnest full-color AMOLED flexible displays and flexible sensors. 2015 brought the world’s first foldable 3D movie theater, and the next year saw Royole unveiling the world’s first curved automobile dashboard based on flexible displays, and 2017 brought them closer to the mobile realm with the RoWrite, a smart writing pad with flexible sensors.
With their proof of concept for flexible displays established, Royole secured $5 billion in a 2018 Series E investment round. The company began work on volume production of Royole’s quasi-G6 4.5 million square feet mass production campus for fully flexible displays precipitating their launch of the Royole FlexPai, the world’s first commercial truly foldable smartphone. From their origin of three people, they’ve exploded to a 2,200 employee company from over 20 countries and regions.
Technology is never developed in isolation, and toward the end of 2018, we started seeing an increased buzz for flexible mobile displays across several brands, including Samsung. However, Royole has demonstrated their competence in development from concept to production, and they’ve also begun work on the necessary software innovations that will make flexible display UI as streamlined and intuitive as modern single display devices.
About the FlexPai
The Royole FlexPai faces a number of unique design challenges part and parcel with being the first to the floor with a game-changing piece of technical innovation. It’s a series of tasks they’ve taken to with aplomb, building out the FlexPai to support split screen mode with true simultaneous operations for multitasking and screen modes that allow for the two-part display to be used as a pair of traditional independent displays, cross-display usage, and combined tabletesque display.
The Android-based Water OS adapts naturally to the variety of display options available to a seamless, flexible device.
The FlexPai introduces a whole new dimension to the human-machine interface.
Under the hood, the FlexPai is no slouch. The device is designed with reliability and long life span at the heart of its build philosophy, eschewing strategies of engineered obsolescence. The build quality is impressive with a thin, light, and colorful display that is just as bendable as described. Qualcomm’s latest 8-series Snapdragon flagship SoC is the beating heart of this beast, taking advantage of onboard AI to tackle the power and process managerial concerns of a functionally multi-display device. The camera setup is a 20-mp/16mp combo, and Royole’s own ‘Ro-Charge’ technology boasts a 40% charge increase over competitors.
All the features we’ve come to expect from a modern smartphone are of course present as well. Expandable microSD storage, fingerprint reader, USB Type-C charging, robust speaker, and so forth.
The Royole FlexPai represents a true leap forward not just in mobile technology, in the ubiquity of screens as well. Wired founder Kevin Kelly, occasionally referred to as an “internet prophet,” described the potential for Royole tech as revolutionary for our everyday life:
Take the technology of Royole… Every surface is going to be a screen. The way that we’re going to create a smart environment, a smart world, and the way we’re going to interact with it, is through screens. The screens are the communication of that world to me. Royole’s FlexPai flexible screen represents the new era of the screen as the center of our culture.
What to watch for in 2019
We went hands-on with the Royole FlexPai at its launch event. However, the company will be present at CES with a market-ready version of the FlexPai for our perusal, and we look forward to seeing what Royole has up their sleeve.
It’s a very interesting moment in the tech world. Established leaders like Samsung have been rendered followers of FlexPai in the wake of Royole’s showcasing of the device, and it seems that the old guard is finally vulnerable to innovators ready to enter the new paradigm of mobile technology. We awarded FlexPai our Best of Android 2018 in the field of innovation for good reason, and we’re keen to follow this company’s movements through 2019.
We’ll be covering their presentation with boots on the ground at CES 2019, so check back to see all the latest updates!
This article is brought to you by Royole.