Samsung's first folding phone is being shown at CES in Las Vegas - but only in secret.

The much anticipated phone is "almost finished" according to The Korea Herald.

It says the firm is showing off two versions of the handset, which has a 7.3inch screen, one folding in, and one folding out, reports the Daily Mail.

Samsung unveiled the foldable phone on January 10th during a private meeting with select clients.

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"Samsung Display said it has developed a 7.3-inch foldable panel with plans to start production later this year," an industry source told the paper.

A second source added, "Samsung attracted more clients to the private meeting compared to last year.

"The phone development seems to be almost finished, raising expectations for the phone launch."

Earlier this week it was claimed the phone will enter production this year and go on sale in 2019.

The radical gadget, expected to be called the Galaxy X, will have a 7.3-inch flexible OLED screen which folds inwards like a book.

When folded, it will work as a phone, and can be unfolded to operate as a tablet.

According to Korean site ETNews, Samsung will develop the foldable displays by March, manufacture panels in September and start manufacturing the phone itself in November.

This would mean the handset could go on sale in early 2019.

It is believed Samsung is showing off prototype devices at the CES in Las Vegas this week.

Late last year patent drawings revealed more details of Samsung's first foldable phone.

The new patent drawings, spotted by Dutch site LetsGoDigital, shows a book-like handset that can be opened to transform into a tablet.

A hinge holds the two phones together, and the sides can apparently be folded inwards, to protect the screens, or outwards.

When not in use, the secondary display can be turned into a touchpad, which could see it turned into a gaming console rather like Nintendo's DS range.

The patent that was published in the WIPO database was requested by Samsung Electronics on April 24, 2017, the site said.

Samsung has long been rumoured to be developing a radical folding phone - and it could soon see the light of day, it has been claimed.

A support page for the handset has been spotted online weeks after if was certified by Korean authorities.

The handset has the model number SM-G888N0 - with the NO signifying it will only go on sale in South Korea.

According to Dutch site Lets Go Digital, the Samsung Galaxy X will get a flip-phone design with two displays of which one will be flexible.

"In addition to the Galaxy X foldable smartphone we believe Samsung may also work on a Galaxy foldable tablet," the site says.

Samsung has already announced that it aims to launch a foldable smartphone next year under its Galaxy Note brand.

Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics, said earlier this year the company is setting its eyes on 2018 to release the "the holy grail" of smartphones with a bendable display.

But he said at the time there are several hurdles it has to overcome, leaving room to push back the release if those problems are not solved.

Dong-jin revealed Samsung's ambitious plans during a media day for Galaxy Note 8 in Seoul today.

Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung's mobile communications business, shows the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus during a news conference. Photo / AP
Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung's mobile communications business, shows the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus during a news conference. Photo / AP

He said: "As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year.

"When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product."

He did not elaborate what the problems are, but analysts said mass-producing a foldable phone with top tech features and a thin body will take time.

When Samsung will release its first foldable phone has been a perennial question in the market since Samsung first showcased a flexible display prototype called Youm in 2013.

For at least the past two years, there have been rumours that Samsung is close to showing off its first smartphones that can be folded.

Dong-jin also said the company is working with auto-systems maker Harman to develop an artificial intelligence-enabled speaker that users can speak to in order to play music and conduct other tasks.

Samsung acquired the Stamford-based company last year as part of its plans to expand in the emerging market for connected cars.

Amazon and Google already have those always-on voice-controlled speakers in the market while Apple's Homepod is due to go on sale later this year.

It is not clear when Samsung's voice-controlled speaker, which will likely use the South Korean company's Bixby voice assistant, will be unveiled.

Dong-jin did not say when it will hit the market.

Samsung's mobile president said market response to the Note 8 beat its expectations even though its price was more expensive than past models and even as the Note brand's reputation took a hit from its previous model, the disgraced Note 7 phone that was recalled twice and discontinued after it spontaneously overheated or caught fire.

Samsung received more than a half million pre-orders - 650,000 units - for the Note 8 in South Korea before its Friday launch, Dong-jin said.

The Note 8 has been the most expensive smartphone Samsung has released.