Display company Royole, maker of the FlexPai foldable phone, won’t be coming to MWC 2020 due to concerns over the coronavirus. However, it has still promised to debut a new device, the FlexPai 2, sometime before the show.
This will be something of a blow for Royole given the attention it got at CES 2019 when it unveiled its FlexPai device on the show floor - which was, at the time, the first foldable phone consumers and industry could get their hands on.
While the early device was less advanced than the Samsung Galaxy Fold that (after delays) landed in late 2019, Royole is promising a more advanced device in the FlexPai 2 - a “brand-new foldable phone featuring flagship performance and Royole’s next generation flexible technologies,” according to the company’s press release.
We haven’t heard much about the FlexPai 2, but the MWC stage would have been the right place to follow up on its CES 2020 announcements, which included the Royole Mirage Smart Speaker with wraparound display and Royole RoWrite 2 smart notebook.
- The Royole FlexPai was technically the world's first foldable phone
- But it has been surpassed by the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X
- Given all the companies that have backed out, what's left for MWC 2020?
Another one bails on MWC?
Royole joins a growing list of companies - including tech giants like LG, Sony, Ericsson, and Amazon - that have backed out of the show due to the outbreak. While the GSMA organization behind the show released a statement last week asserting it will still be held, the group is allegedly planning to hold a meeting this Friday about its current status.
Many of these companies, including Royole, say they’re backing out in part to protect the health of their staff - presumably from contracting the virus. However, Royole already faced an uphill battle to keep up with the likes of Huawei, Motorola and Samsung at the forefront of the flexible phone revolution.
The first FlexPai was very much 'first iteration' of the folding-screen technology, with a slow performance and chunky build marring the overall awesomeness of holding a bending smartphone.
Whether the FlexPai 2 will improve much on that remains to be seen, but losing a chance to show it off to the world's mobile media would have given it a much better shot at landing in public consciousness.
- The FlexPai didn't make it on our best phones list - but will the FlexPai 2?
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.