A Chinese technology manufacturer has revealed the first glimpse of what it says is the world’s first ever flexible smartphone.

Beijing’s relatively little-known Royole Corporation has taken the covers off its device, called the FlexPai – which can supposedly withstand being bent more than 200,000 times.

At 7.8 inches when fully open, the device is more like a tablet than a smartphone, but can be folded up ‘wallet style’. When in smartphone mode, the device will display three separate screens – the front, back and down the spine (which will be used for notifications).

Keen to ensure the device had more to offer than just its flexibility, developers fitted the device with a speedy Snapdragon 8-series chip and two cameras. The FlexPai will also run its own Android-based operating system, called Water.

Early adopters won’t have long to wait to get their hands on the new device, with Royole Corporation expected to release the device for sale in December. That puts the firm very much ahead of the competition as, even though nearest rival Samsung will reveal its foldable device very soon, it’s not expected to be released for sale until 2019. Meanwhile, though Apple is also thought to be in the process of developing the technology, it’s quite some way behind.

Pre-sale prices put the 128GB FlexPai at £1,021 (following current exchange rates), whilst the 256GB model will command nearer £1,138.

Though many reviewers have expressed excitement at the device’s release, others have noted the downsides that will come bundled in with such new technology. In addition to the folded-over device being somewhat bulky, it’s also rather heavy. In fact, the FlexPai will weigh around 50% more than the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Note 9, which are already rather hefty devices themselves.

Though it has focused on the smartphone market initially, Royole Corporation has plans to roll the technology out wider in future. The company’s CEO Bill Liu explained to techcrunch.com that whilst it hasn’t licenced the technology out to any smartphone manufacturers, it does have customers for “industrial applications like automotive or media.”

He added, “We sell the licenses to them, and we’ve already sold a lot.”