Galaxy Z Fold 4 beats Apple's iPad in one key area, explains iPadOS 16's big new feature

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Galaxy Z Fold 4 beats Apple's iPad in one key area, explains iPadOS 16's big new feature
So here we are, one of the most exciting smartphones of 2022 is here – the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. A candy bar-shaped phone that unfolds into a 7.6-inch tablet, with an invisible selfie camera under its cutting-edge folding display. Quite unusual!

And although the Z Fold 4 is exciting in many ways, the way Samsung has carefully designed it with power users and multitaskers in mind has particularly impressed me.

Because I've been an iPad user for over a decade, and I've always felt that iPads are lacking in the multitasking department. And it's baffling, since Apple's tablets have very powerful "Pro" models, clearly targeted at professionals.

What the iPad currently offers in terms of multitasking is a basic split-screen mode for running two apps at a time, and a clunky Slide Over feature for limited, uncustomizable, tall windowed apps. It's not very intuitive. Apple had many years to improve this experience, yet it seemingly never really tried.

Save $900 on a new Galaxy Z Fold 4 with trade-in

The cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 4 is available at for as low as $1019.99 with eligible trade-in. And this is for the 512GB variant! You can get it for even cheaper if you go with the lower 256GB model, and further cheaper if you buy it locked on certain carriers.
$1019 99
$1919 99
Buy at Samsung

Save up to $500 on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Right now offers the Galaxy Z Flip 4 foldable for up to $500 off with eligible trade-in, for the mid-tier 256GB model. An even cheaper model with 128GB of storage is also available.
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$1059 99
Buy at Samsung

Meanwhile, let's look at Samsung again…

The new Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a phone that offers better multitasking and power user features than an iPad Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a phone. A phone that can be your tablet too. A phone and a tablet, that can be your PC too! It's a swiss army knife of a device.

And as we mentioned, Samsung clearly knew this niche, expensive foldable, is for Android power users; tech enthusiasts who want to do as much as possible with just this one device.

So Samsung has now brought to it Android 12L, a dedicated Android version for foldables and tablets with big screens. The Z Fold 4 also now gets a fixed taskbar, for accessing your most used apps.

This taskbar stays on the bottom of the screen wherever you go, so you can either switch between apps quickly, or drag apps from it onto your currently-open app, to run two apps at the same time. Maybe drag a third app for three apps at the same time, even. Maybe a fourth app for more – you can! As an Android power user, Samsung has truly empowered you to do the crazy things you'd expect to be able to, on a device like this.

And why did I say the Z Fold 4 "can even be your PC"? Because, if all of those multitasking features aren't enough for you, you can connect the Z Fold to an external display and it'll give you an entirely new interface.

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It's called Samsung DeX, and it's pretty incredible – you get a Windows 11-like desktop, with a start menu, taskbar, desktop icons, and all of your apps will start opening in freely-resizable windows!

That's not all, Samsung hasn't just slapped this feature on willy nilly, without any real care or attention to detail – you can even snap your windowed apps to the corners of the screen for quick and easy window management! Just like on Windows 11.

Now those are the power user features you'd think the iPad would've had since forever – fully empowering its professional users to do more, and in an intuitive way. But as of right now, as of iPadOS 15 – what we have on the iPad is only the basic, clunky multitasking we mentioned earlier… And it begs the question…

Why does a niche Samsung phone offer a better power user experience than the wildly popular iPad meant for professionals?

It all comes down to Apple's vision being vastly more different than Samsung's, and that's arguably not always in a good way. Until very recently, Apple seemingly wanted everything to be as simple as possible; simple, and easy-to-understand.

For a good number of years, the iPad was just a large iPhone – it even ran the same iOS operating system as the iPhone. You could only use one app at a time; browse the web, watch your videos on a bigger, portable screen, play some games, and that was the jist of it.

Later on in 2019 came the first dedicated iPad operating system – iPadOS 13. The iPad finally branched out of iOS, and received split-screen capabilities, for running two apps at a time. Again – this was in 2019, which one could argue was pretty late in the iPad's life, as we've had iPads since 2010.

So as of 2019, me being an iPad user and fan, I was hoping for better multitasking features to arrive each following year. Something akin to how multitasking works on Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS, or even Samsung DeX.

And now, perhaps due to Apple finally feeling threatened by the powerful features Samsung is offering on its tablets and the Galaxy Fold, I guess someone wished upon a star and a miracle has happened…

The fact that iPadOS 16 finally brings Mac-like multitasking makes sense – Apple needs to keep up… against a phone

iPadOS 16 is coming to your iPad this fall (although delays have been speculated, but it should be worth the wait). This iPad software update will finally bring desktop-like multitasking on the iPad, via a new feature called Center Stage.

We took a closer look at it in our iPadOS 16 preview article and video if you want to check those out, but basically – it's what I've always wanted. As long as you have an M1 iPad, Center Stage will be there to give it a fixed dock and windowed apps. You'll be able to run plenty of them at a time, no longer restricted to just two sharing the screen.

So how come Apple finally had a change of heart now, and decided to introduce what I was pretty sure would never come, apparently too much to ask for? Well, again – I can't help but think Samsung offering all of these pro user features on its tablets and Z Fold phones probably had a role in "encouraging" the Cupertino company to finally step up its game.

Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs iPad Pro power user features compared

Let's take a look at what I consider the best multitasking features the Z Fold 4 has (again, it's a phone!), and compare those to what we get on an iPad Pro (a tablet for professionals)...

  • S Pen stylus vs Apple Pencil: Subjective, but I actually like the S Pen more, and here's why

So the Galaxy Z Fold 4 actually has support for two styluses, despite it having a soft(-ish) folding screen, which means it's harder for Samsung to implement stylus support at all. You can use either the S Pen Fold Edition or the S Pen Pro styluses with the Fold. Both of those have soft tips, which makes writing with them feel nice and close to the real thing. Let me explain…

The Apple Pencil you can use with your iPad Pro has a hard plastic tip, which, when pressed against the tablet's glass screen, always felt pretty unpleasant to me. Hard plastic against hard glass doesn't glide as naturally or collide as naturally as one would hope for, especially compared to the S Pen's soft tip, which does feel quite like using a real marker.

Still, the Apple Pencil is not a joke, and actual professional artists seem to love it. It feels way more premium and reassuring in the hand, while the S Pen feels cheap and lightweight.

And if you're serious about your iPad artistry, you can always invest in a paper-like screen protector, which should help with how the Apple Pencil feels when you're using it – bring it a bit closer to the real thing.

  • Powerful and intuitive Android multitasking vs clunky iPad multitasking

We already took a look at what the Z Fold 4 offers against the iPad Pro, but here's the gist of it… The Galaxy Z Fold 4 offers not one, but two powerful ways to multitask.

One is to split up to three apps across the display at the same time, with the option to drag even more on top, which will open in windows. You also have a fixed taskbar now, which is super convenient for switching between apps and dragging apps from it over your current apps.

The second, even more powerful way you can multitask on the Z Fold 4 is by enabling Samsung DeX – which brings you an entirely different desktop, with a taskbar, and all of your apps will start opening in resizable windows.

As for the iPad, it currently only runs two apps at a time at most. You can technically open more in a clunky popup window called Slide-Over, but in my experience it's so unintuitive and it gets in the way, so I personally never use it or find it useful.

With iPadOS 16 this fall, M1 iPads will finally get the Center Stage feature for Mac-like multitasking, though. And while apps will open in windows when you're using Center Stage, those windows are still not exactly freely resizable, instead having fixed sizes and positions you can use them in. And yes, there's nothing even remotely close to Samsung DeX on the iPad, unfortunately. I doubt there ever will be.

  • Android apps vs iPad apps: iPad wins here, but it's not Samsung's fault

This is where we could strongly argue in favor of the iPad. Android has countless apps, iPadOS has countless apps, but the latter actually has some really polished, high quality, professional-grade apps that have become very popular with professionals.

Namely Procreate, which is an iPad-only app for artists, a powerful one at that. I've personally used it many times, and I can concur that it's not just capable for professional work, it's way more fun to use than, say, Windows apps like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Painter are.

For video editors, there's LumaFusion – another iPad-only app (at least as of right now), that I've also been really happy with. Editing even huge 4K video projects has been a breeze, since the app is plenty capable, and iPad Pros are plenty powerful in terms of performance.

But on the Android side – the "pro app" situation is not as rosy. If you dig deep, you'll find capable apps, like the Adobe suite, but those are locked behind paid subscriptions as opposed to one-time payments, and Android devices, be those tablets or phones like the Z Fold 4, are nowhere near as powerful as an iPad. Similarly, Android can't possibly be as optimized for the countless devices that run it, as iPadOS is for the few iPads that run that one.

So the cards are stacked against Samsung when it comes to pro apps, but everything that's in Samsung's hands, the company seems to be doing, and it's admirable. The Korean giant even said that one of the iPad-exclusive apps we previously mentioned – LumaFusion – will be coming to its devices eventually.

And trust me, that's a big deal. If Samsung manages to "steal" iPad-exclusive pro apps for itself, and they run just as well as they do on iPads – that'd be a huge win.

Which device would you buy for productivity? A Galaxy Z Fold 4 or an iPad Pro?

With all this in mind, which device would you rather have, particularly for productivity? Would you take the Z Fold 4 and all of its power user features? A device that'll be a phone in your pocket, a large tablet in your hands, and even a desktop PC alternative, when connected to an external display.

Or would you rather pick up the tried and tested, good old iPad Pro – with its fantastic, polished apps and powerful performance?

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