The Royole FlexPai is improved, but still doesn't feel like a Galaxy Fold rival

Image credit: TechRadar

We were pretty hard on the Royole FlexPai when we tried it at CES this year because it was, well, pretty terrible. While it was a cool concept, and our first time getting our hands on a flexible phone, the experience just didn't match up.

You can see here just how bad things were back in January in the video below. On opening up the phone, it would just stare at us before remembering that it was supposed to alter the user interface to jump into tablet mode.

Fast forward just 50 days, and we're in a very different flexible world. The Huawei Mate X exists. The Samsung Galaxy Fold has been unveiled. The world seems to have forgotten about the Royole FlexPai... but should it have?

We went back in and got hands-on with the device, seeing if the software had improved – and the good news is that it has. The chap demonstrating the phone to us had been using the phone himself for a month, and claimed that things were a lot smoother.

In our brief time flicking through the interface, they really were. We're not saying that things are completely fixed – there's some very obvious lag in the phone when switching between the front and back screens, for instance – but overall, the experience was far, far faster.

The unfurling seems a lot quicker

The unfurling seems a lot quicker

Fewer of them Benjamins

Remember those two phones we mentioned at the start there? The Huawei Mate X costs €2,299, which converts to about $2,600, £2,000, AU$4,770 with 512GB of internal storage. The Samsung Galaxy Fold comes in at $1,980 (around £1,500 / AU$2,800), so neither are cost-effective.

The once-expensive sounding price tag of €1,539.00 of the FlexPai (which converts to around $1,700 / £1,300 / AU$2,400) suddenly doesn't seem quite as eye-watering, and you're getting a flexible phone with 256GB of internal storage.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here: the FlexPai still has a rounded, wedge shape (which Royole says protects it for almost twice as many unfolds as the Mate X, in fairness) and doesn't quite lay flat when unfurled), and there are some slight aberrations in the screen which means the display isn't as smooth as its competitors.

But if your goal is to just own a flexible phone, Royole isn't giving up on the FlexPai and is still improving the software... so maybe it's worth a second look.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.  

All images credit: TechRadar

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.