A California-based company has laid claim to creating the “world’s first foldable phone”.
Royole Corporation—a specialist in manufacturing flexible displays—unveiled the FlexPai handset at an event in Beijing.
When opened, the device presents a single display measuring 7.8in (19.8cm)—bigger than many tablets.
But when folded up, it presents three separate smaller screens—on the front, rear, and spine of the device.
The six-year-old company said it would hold three “flash sales” to consumers in China on Nov. 1 to offer the first product run.
The phones will be priced between $1,290 to $1,863 depending on the memory and storage specifications selected.
In addition, Royole said it would also offer a slightly different version of the devices to developers across the world the same day.
It intends to start deliveries in “late December”.
The launch has caught many industry watchers by surprise.
It was widely believed Samsung or Huawei would be the first to sell such a device to the public.
Samsung was expected to preview its efforts at an event in San Francisco on Nov. 7 but is not understood to be ready to put a product on sale.
Venturebeat reporter Evan Blass has also claimed LG intends to unveil a foldable phone of its own at the CES trade show in January.
Videos posted to social media of the FlexPai in action, however, indicate the version of Android they run still needs some work.
In particular, the display is shown to flick between different orientations after being switched from one mode to another before settling.
Purchasers will also need to be mindful that the device weighs 320g—more than 50% more than the iPhone XS Max or Galaxy Note 9.