In bid against Apple, Pablo Escobar's brother launches $350 foldable phone

The sibling of the late drug kingpin says the Escobar Fold 1's plastic screen "cannot break," unlike Samsung's Galaxy Fold.

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Sean Keane
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The Escobar Fold 1 is much cheaper than Samsung and Huawei's foldable phones.

Escobar Inc

Roberto De Jesús Escobar Gaviria, the brother of late Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, is going toe-to-toe with the $1,500 Motorola Razr, $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold and $2,400 Huawei Mate X by releasing a foldable phone: the Escobar Fold 1. It's a whole lot cheaper at $350, coming unlocked and compatible with "all networks" worldwide.

The phone's website and promotional videos are full of scantily clad women showing off the device, but also reveal that it has a 7.8-inch AMOLED FHD Plus screen when folded. It runs Android 9.0 (Pie), is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Series chipset, and has dual 16- and 20-megapixel cameras.

The videos mostly focus on the models -- with an odd reference to late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs -- but one seems to show the phone's screen in action (the wallpaper is Pablo Escobar's 1977 mugshot). 

"This is a completely revolutionary device in the mobile world, what Mr. Escobar has done is to cut out all retailers and wholesalers, giving that financial benefit to the consumer," Escobar Inc. CEO Olof Gustafsson told CNET via email. Escobar Inc. was established in 1984 and is based in the UK. The phones are assembled in Hong Kong via Escobar Inc.'s subsidiary, Pablo Phone Ltd.

Gustafsson also noted that the specs of the Escobar Fold 1 are far superior to those of Apple or Samsung devices because those companies use old tech and market it as something new, saying 20-megapixel cameras cost less than $10 in Asia. 

"This industry that used to be full of innovation has now become full of companies looking to make profit. It is not for nothing that Apple is the most profitable company in the world, when a computer stand costs more than an iPhone. Long story short, this is absurd, and Mr. Escobar is changing that now."

By entering the tech industry, the company's plans to "beat Apple" and will manufacture other "very special products or products that pertain to the legacy of Pablo Escobar." It isn't the only relatively unknown company to release a foldable phone -- the startup Royole in Fremont, California released a similar device for $1,318, known as the Flexpai phone.

Foldable phones to flex and bend: Galaxy Fold, Motorola Razr and more

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Escobar -- the former accountant and co-founder of his deceased brother's Medellin Cartel -- told Digital Trends that the phone won't suffer from the same durability issues as the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It "cannot break" because the screen is made of "a special type of plastic." 

The dual-SIM phone folds outward, like the Mate X, and you can choose between the 128GB option ($350) or the 512GB one ($500). If you're dissatisfied with the product, the site notes that there are no returns or refunds, though Gustafsson says the company will consider some "on a case-by-case basis."

Read: For foldable phones, cheap and simple could win out

First published at 4:29 a.m. PT.
Updated at 6:15 a.m. PT: Adds quotes from Olof Gustafsson. 3:13 p.m.: Adds additional information about Escobar Inc. 

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