Samsung has finally unveiled its foldable phone, after years of teasing and rumours.

The handset, with a screen known as the Infinity Flex Display, can be folded out into a tablet or bent in to make it smaller and suitable for use as a phone or fitting into people's pockets.

The company says the technology powering the new phone will serve as the "foundation of the smartphone of tomorrow".

It will go into production within the next few months and will be available early next year, it said.

It revealed little about how the phone will actually work, even placing it in a case and showing it off in the dark so that it was not possible to see what it actually looked like. It didn't say when it would show off what the phone actually looks like or any other features.

But demonstrations on stage appeared to show the phone's screen working, shrinking when it was bent over on itself into the phone setup.

And it said new screen technologies would allow it to run three apps at once.

Samsung's announcement had already been somewhat spoiled by Google's announcement earlier in the day that it would be introducing support for folding devices into its Android operating system, and that it was working with Samsung to integrate them into its new phone. And Samsung itself had suggested that it would have an announcement to make about the long-rumoured handset, a couple of days before the presentation.

Justin Denison, Samsung Electronics senior vice president of Mobile Product Marketing, speaks during the unveiling of Samsung's new foldable screen smart phone (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

With the world's eyes on the announcement, the company spent a considerably amount of time talking about Bixby, its attempt at a voice assistant which has failed to reach the popularity of competitors like Alexa. But it then turned to the foldable phone, dimming the lights and giving a short demonstration of how it might work.

Samsung has been teasing the development of the foldable phone for more than five years. It is far from the only company to be doing so, and its announcement looked to be overshadowed somewhat when another smaller firm called Royole announced that it would be releasing a foldable handset of its own.

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