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You’d be forgiven if Royole doesn’t ring any bells. Even here China, it’s far from a household name. Still, the Shanghai-based startup recently secured an undisclosed Series E, vaulting its valuation to an apparent $5 billion, up from $3 billion in late 2016.
Founded in 2012, Royole’s best-known release was a wearable cinema display. That changed last month, however, when it surprised the industry by announcing the imminent arrival of the FlexPai, a flexible screen smartphone that appears on track to to beat the Samsung Galaxy X to market.
FlexPai - December - Release - Competitors - Royole
The FlexPai’s anticipated December release seemingly came out of nowhere. Like competitors, Royole had shown off its proprietary folding technology as part of a standalone demos, but it hadn’t teased the arrival of a smartphone until the device was ready to ship. It’s a far cry, certainly, from the not ready for prime time prototype Samsung marched out on stage last month.
At an event in Shenzhen, CEO Bill Liu told TechCrunch that the company was built around the desire to bring the technology to market. “We started from the flexible displays and flexible sensors,” he explained. “We started the company with a focus on the flexible displays and sensors. And then along the way, we realized this could be a huge application for the technology.”
Smartphone - Product - Sense - Tech - Development
A foldable smartphone was simply the first product that made sense for the underlying tech. With development dating back a half-dozen year, Royole was the first to achieved the industry’s long standing goal of delivering a foldable screen — beating even the massive Samsung to market.
Being first isn’t always a blessing in this industry, but it’s an impressive feat, nonetheless. The FlexPai is real. I can’t speak to the scalability of the...
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