Using the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes me wish for a folding iPad mini

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 wrapped around an iPad mini 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of the most interesting devices I've used in a while. Its a solid evolution over its predecessors and basically the best foldable phone you can buy right now. 

Yet, it's far from perfect. And I'm not yet sold on foldable phones either. But other foldable devices, specifically tablets could be another story. In fact, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has me thinking how much I'd like a foldable iPad

The biggest problem I have with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is it's too bulky to act as an everyday phone. Granted, the extra screen space makes it great for productivity — I'm writing this article on the folding phone while I travel into the office — but for a device that can just be sipped into any pocket or purse, it's simply a bit too thick and heavy. 

That might be fine for some who are really attracted to the foldable phone niche. But for me, the big non-folding display of my Oppo Find X3 Pro is fine if I need to fire off an email while I'm wandering around in some corner of London.  

A photo of a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 around an iPad mini 5

(Image credit: Future)

However, size and bulk is a common complaint with folding phones and one that a few more generations might fix. My second big issue with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is software.

I've never been the biggest fan of Samsung's phone software, though it's improved a lot recently with One UI almost being a pleasure to use. But neither One UI or Android in general is good enough for tablet use. 

Unlike iPadOS, there are simply not enough tablet-optimized apps for Android. And while Samsung has worked hard on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, there are still apps that struggle to adjust to the folding display or simply feel fiddly to use. 

With the exception of Instagram, which has long been woefully bad on tablets, I rarely encounter any problems with using apps on my iPad mini. As such, for working on the go, by which I mean writing articles on a plane, train, boat or bus, I turn to my iPad mini. Especially as Google Docs works rather well on Apple's squat tablet and the virtual keyboard is neat and intuitive to use. The Galaxy Z Fold 3's keyboard feels inexplicably fiddly by comparison due to what I feel is an odd response to my taps, at least with default settings. 

A photo of a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 by an iPad mini 5

(Image credit: Future)

However, while the iPad mini is indeed mini, it's still too large to fit in all but the most spacious of coat pockets. So it's my go to device for mobile working, but it's not a gadget I carry with me all the time. 

Now if Apple were to take inspiration from the Galaxy Z Fold 3, perhaps even working with Samsung on display tech, it could make a folding iPad mini. 

And no I don't want a folding iPhone, as not only are iOS and iPadOS now reasonably different, I don't fancy holding a bulky iPhone up to my ear when I've the rare occasion to make a phone call. Rather, it could be a little like the Microsoft Surface Duo 2, only instead of two displays I imagine it having one folding panel. 

In essence, such a device would give me an iPad mini experience that I could take anywhere as a partner device for my phone. It would also make this theoretical iPad mini more appealing, or at least notably different, from the iPad mini 6; as good as that tablet is it's basically just a shrunken iPad Air with less functionality. 

A photo of a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 around an iPad mini 5

(Image credit: Future)

Heck, even if this is a niche idea it would show that Apple can still "Think Different" beyond the Apple M1 chip, and demonstrate it doesn't always need to just iterate on its devices (looking at you iPhone 13). 

Of course, this is just rampant wishful thinking on my part and I highly doubt Apple cares what I want. But if anyone from Cupertino is reading, let's talk, because I have ideas. 

In lieu of a folding iPad mini, I'm still happy to keep using the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It may be niche and imperfect, but it's a great showcase for Samsung tech and innovation. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.