Despite only being a company that's barely made it out of the kindergarten age range, Royole has made a ton of noise in that time for a lot of really interesting technology. Since its founding in 2012 by three Stanford engineering grads, the company has taken its flexible sensor and flexible display technology and rolled out some incredibly cool products.
But to the outsider, trying to figure out where Royole was heading as a company has been nearly impossible. First, there was the Moon entertainment headset that incorporated the flexible display tech. Then we saw the RoWrite smart writing pad, which was built around the company’s sensor technology. And there have even been crazy projects that put their flexible displays on t-shirts and hats, and a recently-launched portable keyboard that folds up into a size comparable to a highlighter. Essentially, these product categories have been all over the map.
And then Royole hit the granddaddy of them all back in October when they announced FlexPai, the world’s first commercially available foldable smartphone. Here in Vegas, the phone made its U.S. debut, though it’s currently in the developer phase here and likely still a ways away from retail availability.
Admittedly, I was a little harsh on the product when it first was unveiled to the world, mainly because of a form factor that I believed looked awkward and not ideal for carrying around in one’s pocket. Getting hands on with the phone here at CES 2019, though, I feel I warmed up to FlexPai a little bit. The device is still bigger and bulkier than the phones we’re carrying around in our pockets right now—but what do you expect when you take an otherwise thin phone and fold it in half on itself? The curve of the screen along the folded edge, while bulky, isn’t as bad as I thought when looking at the initial videos of the device. It’s comfortable in the hands, and really just an all around cool piece of technology.