Mobile device use continues to rise...

...with 1.8 billion smartphones and 195.4 million tablets sold in 2013, according to Mobiforge. These versatile devices fit into the gaps that desktops and laptops leave behind. Choosing between a smartphone and a tablet depends on the devices you have available, your intended usage, and the environments in which you’re using it.

What Role Does It Fulfill?

Look at the devices you already have in your technology quiver. What niche does your smartphone or tablet fill that your other devices don’t? Both devices let you go mobile, but a smartphone is superior to a tablet if you already have a laptop for mobile computing. If you need a powerful device to take on the road and you don’t have a laptop, a tablet fills the processing gap between your smartphone and your workstation.

It’s easy to list the specific roles a smartphone fulfills: messaging, phone service, GPS access and app usage. A tablet has many functions, which include those of a traditional laptop and additional features common within smartphones. It’s important to identify the gap between the smartphone and other devices to see how a tablet would add benefit—increase productivity, efficiency or decrease expenses. A tablet can also provide value even if a laptop is available, as the tablet comes in a smaller form, has a higher convenience factor, and offers an easily added mobile data plan.

Personal Use

A smartphone is excellent for making phone calls, texting friends and keeping up on social media. But if you want a device created for entertainment purposes, the tablet wins out. The larger form factor gives you a bigger screen to watch videos, and more powerful hardware provides a better platform for mobile games.

Business Use

Companies approach mobile devices with a mix of strategies. Some organizations issue company tablets and smartphones, while others embrace a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that allows employees to use their own devices for work purposes. A smartphone is easy to transport, lets your boss contact you quickly, and supports many essential apps.

A tablet provides a powerful device for field teams and remote employees who don’t necessarily need the smallest form factor. Instead, the tablet can be used as an on-the-go workstation, connecting to the home office with remote connections or using cloud-based services to perform vital business functions. Tablets are also large enough for your customers to easily read, which is useful as a remote sales team member. Instead of giving a purely verbal presentation, or hoping your audience can read a small smartphone screen, a tablet provides bright, clear visuals. Furthermore, reading spreadsheets and other documents is easier for field reps on the large screen of a tablet, than on a small pocket-size device.

The choice between a smartphone and a tablet varies by person, situation and strategy—creating a variety of approaches. Both mobile devices have their pros and cons, and work well together as complementary pieces of technology.

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