Korean tech giant Samsung apparently has a huge innovation up its sleeve for the Galaxy S8 smartphone that will be released in 2017.

The company is reportedly planning a foldable smartphone that can also be used as a tablet. News of the device was leaked by an unnamed Samsung executive cited by ETNews of South Korea.

Samsung Galaxy S8 May Feature Folding Screen

Samsung Galaxy S8 could have a foldable OLED display

The Galaxy S8 will apparently go into production late this year with an aim to launching in 2017. It looks as though the smartphone will sport a foldable OLED display, marking Samsung’s major effort to stay ahead of rival Apple and its iPhone 7.

According to reports in ETNews, the South Korean company’s display arm Samsung Display has been working with a number of different companies on the foldable Galaxy S8. It is thought that the device will feature a 7-inch screen that can be folded down to 5 inches.

“Although mass-production cannot be concluded hastily since Samsung Electronics still has few other major tasks to complete, I’ve heard that Samsung Electronics had made the considerable amount of results in the time being,” according to a source cited by ETNews.

Executives hinted at research in January

This January Samsung teased that it was working on foldable OLED displays

“Development of Foldable OLED is taking place according to our plan. We are planning on mass-production and release of this product by discussing with our partners,” said Lee Chang-hoon, Director of Samsung’s Display division, during a call to investors.

So far there have been few details on how the foldable smartphone would work. However Samsung has used OLED display in curved HDTVs, Galaxy S6 Edge, and S7 Edge smartphones.

The recent release of the Galaxy S7 smartphone was not particularly exciting, with no major design changes. However the introduction of a folding screen would be a major innovation.

Samsung-Apple smartphone battle rumbles on

Samsung continues to battle it out with Apple in the flagship smartphone market. While sales of the Galaxy S7 have been strong so far, it looks as though the next major step will be the competition between the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 7.

Commentators are divided as to whether Apple will make major design changes to the next generation iPhone, but other rumors float the idea of a thinner handset with a vastly improved camera. For years Samsung has wrestled away the crown of best smartphone camera, but Apple looks set to make a concerted effort to take it back.

Rumors abound that Apple is set to introduce an iPhone 7 Pro with a revolutionary dual-camera system. If that is the case then Samsung has some work to do to introduce an innovation of its own that will keep pace with Apple.

A folding screen smartphone-tablet will mean that many consumers only need to buy one device. It’s also a pretty cool party trick to suddenly be able to extend your phone another couple of inches.

At this stage no one else has made a smartphone with a foldable OLED screen, and Samsung can demonstrate its continued commitment to innovation if it is the first to do so. As always with tech rumors it can be hard to know whether the feature will make it into the production model, but if the source is genuine it seems that there is a good chance that it will.