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CES 2019: Say hello to first commercial foldable smartphone — VIDEO

Updated January 9, 2019 - 8:26 pm

Flip phones may be coming back — this time with a major upgrade.

California-based Royole aims to combine the best of both the smartphone and tablet with the FlexPai, what it claims to be the world’s first commercial foldable smartphone.

The smartphone is about 7.8 inches diagonal, with an operating system based on Android 9.0.

Florent Meng, a brand director with Royole, said the device is a convenient, two-in-one solution for consumers.

“When I open it, it’s a pad. I can play games with a very large vision,” he said. “When I fold it, I can put it in my pocket.”

The screen can support more than 200,000 bends before wearing down.

The FlexPai is available for preorder. Meng said the company is still in talks with potential partners and hopes to bring the phone to the U.S. market soon. It’s available in China for $1,600.

The device was on display at the 2019 CES convention, with a long line of attendees waiting to take a sneak peek.

“I think it’s a good idea, I think it’d be fun,” said Dalyn Murray, owner of Vern’s RadioShack in Pocatello, Idaho. “I like the bigger phone anyway … so that makes sense. (I) do Facebook, and I do my books on my phone. That would make it a lot more convenient.”

James Krasner, an industrial designer from Charlottesville, Virginia, said the software for Royole’s device isn’t “fleshed out” yet, but he has high hopes for the new technology’s future.

“It’s a really cool concept,” Krasner said. “A downside I see is you have a chunky phone that’s going to be really big in your pocket. … I don’t know if a flexible phone is really the product I would want.”

More than 180,000 attendees are at CES, which runs through Friday. More than 4,400 exhibiting companies are showcasing products across more than 2.9 million net square feet of space.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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