Here's a first look at Samsung's new $1,400 folding phone

Samsung reveals its newest folding phone
Key Points
  • Samsung's new Galaxy Z Flip feels way nicer than the Galaxy Fold.
  • It has a sturdier-feeling hinge and a glass screen that feels more solid.
  • It's expensive at $1,380, but I really like how it folds up into a little square.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip on Tuesday. It's Samsung's second phone with a bendy display, following the $2,000 Galaxy Fold. I didn't expect much from it, since I wasn't really impressed by the Fold when it launched last year. It was expensive and the bending display felt cheap to me.

There's a small screen on the outside for notifications.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Galaxy Z Flip is way different, at least based on the half-hour I spent with it after Samsung's keynote. Keep in mind this was a first look, and the first iteration of the Galaxy Fold broke after just a few days, so we won't know how long this will last until we can test it for a longer period of time.

That said, the new glass coating on top of the screen feels way more sturdy. It doesn't feel soft and like it might be damaged by a fingernail (that was actually a concern with the Galaxy Fold).

It looks like a normal phone from the side.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The design also makes a lot more sense. It's a regular-sized phone that just folds in half into a more pocketable little square you stuff in your pocket. Then you just pull it out, open it, and you've got a big phone screen for movies or games or whatever.

The Fold, conversely, was a weird fat phone that opened into a square-shaped tablet with an oddly-shaped screen I never really liked.

The back of the Galaxy Z Flip.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The hinge on the Flip feels really sturdy, too. It stays exactly where you leave it, which means you can prop the phone up on a desk for a video chat and it won't slam closed. It also feels more protected from dust getting inside, though long-term use will prove whether or not that's really the case.

The Galaxy Z Flip folds up nice and small.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Flip is a lot more affordable, too. I know that $1,380 is still expensive, but it's down from the $2,000 price of the Fold. That price is right in-line with the new Galaxy S20 Ultra, though it lacks the fancy cameras and 5G support of that phone.

You can see the crease here (and some fingerprint smudges.)
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Normal folks probably won't shell out $1,400 for a phone just because it folds. But early adopters will, and I think this one will be really popular among folks who want the fanciest flip phone on the block.

I like that the Galaxy Z Flip opens up into a normal-looking phone.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

It launches on Feb. 14 and will be offered by AT&T and Sprint, and sold through Best Buy and directly from Samsung.