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Smartphone vs. Tablet

Date Written: December 2011

The decision to use a smartphone or tablet is ultimately going to come down to the individual inspector. What is important to one home inspector may not be as important to another. This means you will need to decide what is most important to you before making a decision on hardware. Some of the things to consider are screen size, the size of the device, operating system, camera, battery, and cost.

Use the iPhone 4S in the field for your home inspections Use the iPad in the field for your home inspections

Use the information below to help you decide if a smartphone or tablet is the right choice for you:

Battery Life

Battery life between devices varies greatly, and because of that you can't say that either tablets or smartphones are better than the other in this respect. However, there are certain devices in both categories that really stand out in this area. For example the iPad and Motorola Xoom can each get up to 10 hours with moderate use. Your best bet is to do some research on the devices you are interested in and see what others are saying about battery life.

Screen Size

Obviously smartphones are going to have smaller screens than tablets, so you will need to decide which is best for you. Smartphones typically have a screen anywhere between 3.5" (diagonal) to almost 5" (diagonal) on some phones. Tablets on the other hand have screens that range from 5" (diagonal) to 10.1" (diagonal).


Both devices are extremely portable, lightweight, and easy to carry. Because smartphones are smaller and can fit in your pocket, they are more portable than tablets.

Data Connection

Smartphones are typically already going to have a data connection from your monthly plan, which can be beneficial. However you also have the option to get a data plan with tablets. If you do not have a plan with your device, a Wi-Fi connection can be used to transfer data on both smartphones and tablets.


The built-in cameras that come with these devices are getting better and better. The iPhone is known for having a great camera and many new smartphones are coming out with 8 MP cameras. Although the cameras in tablets are getting better, they still tend to trail smartphones. The iPad for example uses a camera that is less than 1 MP. Some Android tablets, such as the Motorola Xoom, have 5 MP cameras.

Final Thoughts

When deciding to go with a smartphone or tablet, there isn't a right or wrong choice. The key is to determine what features are most important to you, and then determine which device best meets your needs.

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