Huawei could be the first company to launch a foldable phone beating Samsung or Apple. Industry watchers say the Chinese brand could debut its device by the end of this year. 

DigiTimes reported Monday that the world’s first foldable smartphone will likely make its debut toward the end of 2018. 

Huawei submitted a patent application for a foldable phone to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in September 2017. The documentation indicated that Huawei was developing a single display screen that can be folded in the middle. 

Samsung was believed to be the first one to launch a foldable phone, simply because the company has been very vocal about its plans to do so. In 2017, the South Korean tech giant announced that it was going to commercially launch a foldable phone in 2018. 

However, Samsung was singing a different tune when it discussed its foldable phone, rumored to debut as the Galaxy X, at CES 2018 early this year. The company’s mobile chief Koh Dong-jin said that “it’s a bit early” for the Samsung foldable handset to launch this year. He then admitted that they are still very much still in the development phase for the device. 

“We want to have a good reaction from customers once the phone is out in the market,” Koh said at the time. “But there are still durability issues that we need to address.” Though Koh did not reveal the possible release date of the phone, industry sources said it could debut in December 2018 or early next year. 

South Korean media reports indicate that Samsung has already applied for patents detailing its foldable phone in Korea and the U.S., and the company is likely to unveil its roadmap for the device sometime this year. Sources say Samsung’s foldable phone will have an inward-folding display, which the tech giant took five years to develop. 

Apple is also one of the companies expected to launch a foldable phone. The Cupertino giant has so far applied a number of patents for clamshell smartphones. One model that Apple is said to be working on has a tri-fold display design, which could also be used in other products aside from smartphones. 

Samsung’s neighboring rival, LG, has also signalled that it could be interested in joining the new market of foldable phones. The LG G7 maker has several patents containing information about a foldable smartphone design that makes use of two connected screens. 

Other phone makers like Oppo, Lenovo and ZTE are also working on their own foldable phones. Given the eagerness of companies to launch their entries to the new market, it’s only a matter of time until foldable smartphones become the next big thing in the industry.