Which do you prefer: tablet or smartphone?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| October 12, 2012


Smartphones and tablets have a lot in common these days, namely their large size and similar operating systems. The people who I most often see with tablets generally have a corresponding mobile device, most likely for shared documents shared over a mutual “cloud” with the same network. Recently I have decided to join the tablet world myself, and I went out and purchased an iPad (to match my iPhone – teehee!) to see if tablet life would make research and writing on-the-go any easier. After about a month of owning and using my tablet, the answer to my own question would have to be: not really.

I’m not sure if my distaste for tablets has to do with the fact that I’ve grown so accustomed to the smaller screen of my iPhone. I know exactly what goes where in order to make things work, and it just takes less time to maneuver around with my thumbs. On my iPad, I have to constantly switch arms and move my whole hand around the screen, and I often fumble. I have already dropped it on the ground several times. Now, bear in mind I didn’t go all out and purchase The New iPad (what kind of name is that, anyway?) or even an iPad 2. I wanted the most for my money, so I found a good deal online and purchased a 32 GB 1st generation iPad (data + WiFi) for $300. So, it’s pretty heavy, especially with the gigantic case I purchased for it, and fumbling and drops are probably inevitable with such a large and heavy device.

I’m starting to wonder if I would have had less trouble if I had decided to purchase The New iPad. They are thinner, and they also feature my beloved retina display. I will say the resolution display isn’t nearly as noticeable with the 1st generation iPad and my iPhone 4S as I thought it would be, but it’s definitely no retina display. The screen size is another trouble maker for me. It is a huge difference bouncing back between a 10” screen and a 3.5” screen. When I type on my iPhone, it takes a few minutes and I never have to set the device down. When I type on my iPad, I have to set the device down on a surface and it takes longer both to type and for the characters to catch up to what I’ve already typed. This probably has something to do with the processor.

The speed of the device isn’t that bad. It runs Netflix fine, and other apps open and close within reasonable time. The app market itself, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment in the fact that I purchased an iPad because I already owned an iPhone and had purchased quite a few useful apps on it, to which I assumed I could easily re-download onto my iPad. Boy, was I wrong. Everything has an “iPad” version, to which I have to re-purchase. Most of the time it will give me an option to re-download the version I bought for my phone for free, but of course, it only shows up on the screen as the size of an iPhone. Fantastic.

Before I bought the iPad, I owned a Kindle Fire which I had rooted to run like a regular Android tablet would. My problem with that device was that a couple of apps I would regularly use didn’t work with it, even after the root. That might have been something wrong on my end, though. I can say that I positively hated the Kindle Fire on its stock software, but that’s probably what I deserve for buying a tablet meant for reading books and expecting it to run like a gladiator. That’s like buying a hamster and expecting it to act like a dog.

My overall experience with tablets so far has been less than I had hoped for. If I had to choose between writing an e-mail with my phone or my tablet, I’d have to pick my phone simply for the speed and accuracy I’ve been able to develop over years of repetitive movements on a mobile device. Maybe after I’ve been using my tablet for more than just one month I can begin to see the real benefits of having one. For now, I just have a fancy $300 Netflix machine.  

Images via Apple and iCantInternet