Smartphone, tablet, netbook or laptop?


These days, it’s easier than ever to stay connected on the go. But if you’re trying to figure out which type of mobile tech is best for your needs, help is at hand.


One of the great things about modern technology is that it’s so versatile. These days, the average smartphone can do most things a dedicated personal computer can – and the dividing line between laptops and tablets is thinner than ever as the latter grow ever more powerful.

With all that, you might be wondering which type of kit is right for you…

And so, we’ve put together this quick guide to explain some of the key differences, and help you make the right choice.




The rise of the smartphone has been one of the biggest tech stories of the last decade. More than two-thirds of people in the UK already have one – and they’re also the most popular devices used for web browsing.

Indeed, if the extent of your online ambitions is to read a few news stories, keep up with your friends and family on Facebook and perhaps play a few casual games, you may be able to use a smartphone as your only bit of connected kit.

If that’s the case, though, you might want to consider a model with a larger screen – like Apple’s iPhone Plus or Samsung’s Galaxy S Plus models – which are more comfortable to use for longer periods of time.

Most people, though, might want a little more from their digital kit. In particular, smartphones aren’t great for typing on – so if you want to do any kind of writing, from emails to blog posts, you may want something a little bigger. Likewise, for watching videos or reading for long periods of time, you’ll benefit from a larger screen.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking a look at tablets – and possibly even netbooks.


Tablets & netbooks


A few years back, a ‘netbook’ – a smaller and less powerful laptop – was the obvious choice for people who wanted a piece of kit that’s more versatile than a smartphone, but not as big or heavy as a full-sized laptop.

But the world of technology moves fast – and these days, netbooks have been pretty much overtaken by the current generation of tablet computers. Both give you a bigger screen to work with, while still remaining handily portable. But there are big differences:

Netbooks are basically shrunk-down laptops. Generally speaking, this means they run Microsoft Windows – meaning they can run a wide range of readily available software, and offer a lot of flexibility in terms of settings and personalisation. But this can make them complicated to use for non-experts – and the folding-case form factor and physical keyboard can make them relatively unwieldy.


Tablets, on the other hand, are more like big smartphones. They run iOS or Android, along with all the apps available for those platforms. This makes them familiar and hassle-free for most users, and they’re definitely designed with ease-of-use in mind. One major difference from netbooks is that tablets generally don’t include a physical keyboard – although you can buy keyboard covers to use with them.

So, which should you choose? Generally speaking, we’d advise you to go with the tablet. They’re simple, straightforward and integrate perfectly with the apps and data on your smartphone – and if you do need to do more serious work on them, a keyboard cover and other accessories can bring them almost in line with laptops in terms of versatility.

But if you want to do serious computer tasks: playing heavyweight games, doing serious work from home or running the full range of Windows or Mac software, you might consider a laptop.




With the rise of tablets and other more portable computers, the old-fashioned laptop is starting to look a bit, well, old-fashioned.

But for some users they’re still the best option. If you do serious office-style work, whether from home or on-the-go, you’ll appreciate a laptop’s large, robust keyboard and effortless support for mice, monitors and other accessories.

There’s also the question of power. While most netbooks are pretty puny, a full-sized laptop can run a huge range of software: from graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop to the full Microsoft Office suite – not to mention a huge range of games.

For that reason, laptops are a great choice for creatives, professionals and anybody who plans to use their kit for more power-intensive stuff.


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