A CDE Definition
how to select a smartphone vs. tablet
See how to select a mobile device.
how to select a mobile device
The mobile world is full of choices as summarized in the following platform lists (names in parentheses are hardware vendors).
1. iPhone (Apple)
2. Android (Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, etc.)
3. Windows Phone and BlackBerry are no longer viable.
1. iPad (Apple)
2. Android (Samsung, Acer, Amazon, etc.)
3. Windows 10 (Samsung, Microsoft, Dell, etc.)
1. Windows (HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, etc.)
2. Mac (Apple)
3. Chromebook (Samsung, Acer)
Smartphones are telephones, and like any cellphone, most people have them nearby at all times. They also fit into a pocket or purse, which makes them an extremely unique electronic appliance. Apple's iPhone and Google's Android make up 98% of the smartphone market, and Android is the market leader worldwide (see iPhone vs. Android). See smartphone features and smartphone operating system.
Tablets do virtually everything a smartphone does except make voice calls via a cellular phone number. However, Skype and FaceTime can also make voice calls. See tablet computer, Windows tablet, Skype and FaceTime.
Figure Out Your Storage Requirement
One of the best things about smartphones and tablets is their use as a portable media album, holding thousands of songs and photos as well as numerous videos. Although they all have built-in storage, many devices have an SD Card slot for more. See SD Card.
Wi-Fi Vs. Cellular
All mobile devices have Wi-Fi, which requires a hotspot for Internet access. Since smartphones are cellphones, they can access the Internet in any location a cellphone call can be made. For data access (email, Web, etc.), users typically use Wi-Fi at home or in a free hotspot and employ the cellular network when a hotspot is not available (switching is automatic).
For tablet users who need Internet access for data no matter where they are, models are available with built-in cellular capability and a carrier data plan. However, for Wi-Fi-only tablets, a hotspot can be generated anywhere a cellular signal is available (see cellular hotspot).
What's a Phablet?
A phablet (phone-tablet) is a smartphone with at least a 5" screen. Although bulkier, phablets have become the norm, and the larger screen and keyboard are more comfortable for Web surfing and other activities. See phablet.
Tablets Vs. Laptops
The differences are weight, battery and keyboard. Tablets weigh one to two pounds; laptops two to six. Models vary greatly but the battery in a tablet usually lasts longer than a laptop. See Ultrabook and laptop.
Tablets are also less convenient for multitasking than laptops, which operate like desktop computers. In 2017, Apple made its iPad tablet work more like a laptop/desktop. Drag and drop and other changes made it easier to switch apps and copy data between them (see iOS 11 in iOS versions).
For touch typists, nothing beats typing on a high-quality keyboard. Tablets offer an on-screen touch keyboard that can become tiresome, and the keyboards integrated into a tablet cover vary greatly in quality. A variety of external keyboards for both tablets and laptops are available. Tablet keyboards connect via Bluetooth, while external laptop keyboards plug into USB.
Windows Vs. Mac
For decades, the personal computer world has been Windows versus Mac. The single advantage of Windows is the huge variety of desktop and laptop models over a wide price range. Software is usually written for Windows first and Mac second.
The Mac advantage is the consistency of its user interface without dramatic changes in each new version. In addition, utilities such as routine backup and migrating an old Mac to a new one are built in and easy to use. The Mac is also more resistant to viruses than Windows. However, no platform is impenetrable; as the Mac gains market share, it also becomes a target. See Windows vs. Mac.
The Chromebook Laptop
Google's Chromebook is a low cost laptop computer (USD $249 and up) that uses the Internet for mostly everything. Essentially a Web browser that stores all data on Google servers, an online connection is required. For casual users, the Chromebook is a viable choice. They have also gained ground in schools (see Chromebook). In 2017, Microsoft introduced its alternative to the Chromebook (see Windows 10 S).
When you purchase a mobile device, you have chosen a specific platform that determines which apps you can run and which online app store you go to for free and paid downloads (see online app store). You cannot run an Apple app (iOS app) in an Android and vice versa. However, some apps are made for competing devices; for example, you can download Google Maps from the Apple store onto your iPhone and Apple Music from the Google store onto your Android. While essential apps are available for all platforms, there is often a favorite app that runs on one platform but not another.
Windows tablets run all the programs that work in Windows PCs. However, they generally do not have the battery life of Apple and Android tablets. Earlier Windows RT tablets had long battery life but did not run legacy programs and are now obsolete. Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft popularized the detachable laptop with a screen that becomes a tablet (see hybrid laptop). Another variant is the 2-in-1: a laptop that folds into a tablet (see convertible laptop). In contrast, Apple tablets (iPads) do not run the same programs as Mac computers. See mobile compatibility.
What to Buy and How Much
Smartphones can be free or up to USD $300 with a data plan contract. They sell outright from $250 to more than $1,000. Monthly fees range from $25 to $90 and more. For people who want an emergency-only phone, pay-as-you-go plans are based on prepaid minutes and bytes of data transfer.
Tablets come in various sizes and a wide range of prices from USD $50 to $1,000 and more. If the tablet has cellular capability built in, cellular network fees start at $10 per month.
For the novice, the iPhone and iPad are very consistent and friendly. Apple support by phone and in the store is usually excellent. See iPhone and iPad.
Android phones and tablets are very popular and come in a huge variety of models from numerous vendors (Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, etc.), but there are slight differences between the myriad models on the market. Nevertheless, the variety of features has made Android the best-selling smartphone worldwide. See Android and Android fragmentation.
For the user who works exclusively with Windows applications and needs portability, a Windows laptop or tablet is a no brainer. See Surface tablet, Surface Laptop, hybrid laptop and convertible laptop.
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