Rumours are rife that Samsung has been working on a foldable smartphone for quite some time, and if everything goes according to plan, we may see the device hitting stores as soon as next year. But, here's some development to that speculation that takes the excitement to another level.

It's believed so far that Samsung upcoming foldable smartphone will be an outward-folding handset. While the company hasn't confirmed anything about the device, a number of new reports by the Korean media have claimed that Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display are busy developing an inward-folding smartphone with a 3R curvature (curvature radius of 3 millimetres).

According to Business Korea, Samsung had worked for years on a smartphone -- as well as its components -- that can be folded inward, before going in the opposite direction to develop the out-ward folding handset two years ago.

However, the company recently changed its direction once again and started focusing on its initial concept for some unknown reason.

Sources told The Korea Herald that Samsung probably adopted the inward-folding design due to the development of related technologies, suggesting that the phone's imminent launch is not completely out of question.

Foldable smartphone display
Toray Industries' 4.6 inch flexible organic electroluminescent (EL) display component supplied to South Korea's Samsung mobile devices is showcased during an exhibition of the company's latest technology in Tokyo September 14, 2011.REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

"Samsung has nearly developed technologies related to the in-folding type phone. It means a lot for it to return to the type," an industry source told The Korea Herald.

The latest titbits came more than two weeks after Koh Dong-jin, the president of Samsung's mobile business, said that the company may launch a foldable smartphone sometime next year.

"We have a plan to adopt a foldable display in our roadmap. We are currently addressing some technological hurdles to commercialize such a device," Koh said at the time. "We will launch a foldable device when we are fully ready, and we are aiming to do so next year."

Will Samsung be the first smartphone maker to release a foldable handset? Everything was in Samsung's favour until recently when a photo of ZTE's foldable Axon M smartphone leaked online.

ZTE has already announced that it is going to launch a new smartphone on October 17. However, it's unclear if the company is talking about the foldable Axon M.