Royole, the company behind the early folding FlexPai smartphone, announced the FlexPai 2 and a strategic partnership with fellow Chinese manufacturer ZTE during a livestreamed event. The stream lasted nearly an hour with a lot of talk about new folding displays, but the FlexPai 2 itself was shown right at the end for barely a couple of minutes.

The new folding device has a 7.8in display and updates the original design considerably to make a sleeker unit reminiscent of the Huawei Mate Xs with the display on the outside. It packs in 5G connectivity via the Qualcomm 865 and will be available from Q2 2020.

On first glace the design is much better than the comically unfinished first FlexPai, but it does not look as refined as the Mate Xs or Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip

Royole and ZTE executives theatrically signed a partnership agreement on stage, suggesting we could be seeing a folding ZTE device soon.

Image: Royole

Royole said it has found a way to optimise the crease in folding displays to all but eliminate its appearance, though it didn’t demonstrate this clearly on the brief show of the FlexPai 2. If you remember, the original FlexPai was hot trash, but Royole did get it to market before Samsung and Hauwei, showing it off at CES 2019.

With no pricing announced and a global pandemic in full swing, don’t hold your breath for a timely launch (even if one happens, it will unlikely be outside of China).  

The company went further, setting out to position itself as a flexible display provider to other manufacturers, showcasing flexible screens that can go on whisky bottles (below), as leaves in a digital tree, or plastered onto consumer handbags.

Image: Royole