Meet the phone with 'world's first' foldable screen

Some 10 years after the debut iPhone all but killed the flip phone, a little-known tech firm has unveiled what it claims is the first foldable handset.

The FlexPai - formally announced by the Royole Corporation in Beijing - boasts a "virtually unbreakable and extremely durable" screen, which can be bent more than 200,000 times.

It can be folded up like a wallet, at which point the device displays three separate smaller screens on the front, the back and along the spine - the latter of which will show notifications.

Royole bendy phone
Image: The phone can fold like a wallet and display three screens

But its 7.8in (19.8cm) display resembles more of a tablet when fully unfolded.

California-based Royole, which was founded by Stanford engineering graduates in 2012, has also kitted it out with a speedy Snapdragon 8-series chip, two cameras, and its own Android-based operating system called Water.

The phone will be released in December, meaning it will beat industry heavyweights like Samsung.

Royole bendy phone
Image: Royole has built its own version of Android for the device

South Korea's Samsung will reportedly showcase its own foldable screen technology at an event in San Francisco next week, but it is not understood to be ready to put such a product on sale.

Other manufacturers such as Apple and LG are said to be even further behind in the development of their own takes on the format.

FlexPai is available for pre-order on the Royole website, priced at $1,318 (£1,021) for the 128GB storage model and $1,469 (£1,138) for one coming in at 256GB.

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That makes it more expensive than the base models of the recently released iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

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Some industry observers have questioned whether the new form factor will prove suitable for the average customer, with the FlexPai coming in at more than 50% heavier than the already hefty Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max.

The Verge reports that folding it up also makes it significantly bulkier than both of those phones.

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