Royole Corporation is a California-based startup that is on the way to create the world’s first foldable phone.

The tech company is just six years old and unveiled the FlexPai handset at an event in Beijing.

When opened, the device is the size of a tablet but has the ability to fold into three separate smaller screens.

The startup has beat many tech giants on the race to the first folding phone. It was widely believed that Samsung or Huawei would be first to sell such a device.

Samsung was expected to reveal a new design at an event in San Francisco on 7 November.

It was also reported that LG planned to unveil a foldable phone of its own at the CES trade show in January 2019.

Royole will launch three “flash sales” in November, selling the phone for between 8,999 and 12,999 yuan ($1,290 to $1,863; £1,011 to £1,460)

Carolina Milanesi, from the Creative Strategies consultancy, said: “Royole gets the bragging rights to being first, and it’s quite astonishing that someone you’ve never heard of is doing this.”

“What’s great is that it’s putting this into the hands of developers, who will be able to start the legwork that will result in apps for flexible devices that will eventually be sold by Samsung and whoever else.”

“You need developers to think through how they can best take advantage of screens that double in size.”

The device has been tested to withstand over 200,000 open-and-shut movements.