Tablets suck but the Fold 4 doesn't

Using a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in flex mode with an Apple Magic Keyboard 3 and a Microsoft Designer mouse
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

I've never understood the love for tablets. Outside of retail point-of-sale stations and a scant few other limited-use scenarios, tablets really just suck. They're too big and awkward to replace a phone and often not useful enough to replace a laptop. Even if you pair a tablet with a kickstand case the experience is often frustrating and cumbersome, better served by just carrying around a dedicated laptop.

I've reviewed many tablets over the years and have yet to find one that I would spend my money on, much less actually use on a daily (or even weekly) basis. But the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is different. Why? Primarily for two reasons: size, and flexibility.

When I need a tablet-sized screen, I just unfold the device and voilà, I've got a tablet. Most of the time, though, I just use the device folded since it's more or less the size of a standard modern smartphone. That's because the phone is still too awkward to use full-time when opened up but it still gives me the option to have the big screen when I really need it.

Tablets suck until you need one

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on with S Pen

(Image credit: Android Central)

When I think of using a tablet, the first things that come to mind are almost all negative. Typing on a tablet is terrible. It's too big to comfortably use thumbs and, without haptic feedback of physical keys, typing on a tablet screen with multiple fingers simply isn't enjoyable.

Then there's the subject of sheer size and weight. Most tablets weigh at least three times as much as a phone, meaning they're simply not comfortable holding up for long periods of time.

The sheer size of most tablets makes them awkward to use even at the best of times. You almost certainly have to rest them on something, especially if you're trying to scroll or tap anything on the screen.

Even if you're using one of those nifty tablet cases that pack in a stand or a keyboard, touching the screen is about as awkward of a task as it gets. Not only that, but these types of stands are nearly impossible to enjoy using on a lap as a traditional laptop is.

Most of the time, I'm either going to choose a phone or a tablet for any task as a tablet is almost always the least-ideal choice given its strange form factor.

But I will definitely acknowledge that there are plenty of times when a large display is more than just handy to have; it can be invaluable. A modern cash register, for instance, simply wouldn't be the same without that big, handy tablet screen to type or sign on. Similarly, I've seen tablets used freely in retail shops or in doctor's offices to make it easier to sign documents without wasting ink or paper to print all that paper (not to mention the document security required for medical records).

Tablets can also be nice for watching movies and TV shows or reading graphic novels or books. While I largely prefer a Kindle for long-term reading because the e-Ink technology is far gentler on the eyes, having one device that does it all is pretty handy. And that brings me to the real point.

All-in-one devices are best

Reading a book on a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

With the crushing number of niche devices available on the market today — including tablets — it's nice to have one device that can truly do it all. No, this isn't a Samsung-sponsored post or anything like that. Rather, it's a love letter to foldable devices and why they are the future of mobile.

See, there's almost never a time when the Fold 4 is any more or less awkward or limited than I want it to be. Most of the time, I just want to use it like a phone. I keep it close and stored away in my pocket or lying on my desk while I work. This is the most convenient way to get things done because it's the best way to use it one-handed.

But I open it up several times on any given day, depending on what I'm doing. Taking notes? Definitely opening the phone up and using the S Pen on it as it's just such an efficient note-taking canvas. Watching videos? I'm definitely using the larger screen every single time.

I also read on the Fold 4 every single day. The Libby app makes it absolutely effortless to loan books from my local library without having to drive to one.

Additionally, it's so much more comfortable to read on the Fold 4 when it's partially folded — like the photo above — than to try to balance a big, hefty tablet or even a proper e-reader. It's amazing how evenly distributing the weight of a device can help when using it for long periods of time.

Case in point? I'd much rather have a Fold 4 than any tablet on the market. It packs in all the positives without any of the negative qualities of a giant, unwieldy flat tablet for the vast majority of situations. Seriously, I'm so glad these things are available and as good as they are.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu