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Tablet vs Laptop Comparison : What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference between a tablet and a laptop and which one is best for you? That’s what you’ll learn here.

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Microsoft Surface Go vs. Gaming Laptop

Tablets and laptops have carved out significant niches in the personal and professional worlds, offering distinct features and functionalities. However, their uses are actually quite different.

Tablets, known for their portability and user-friendly interfaces, have become increasingly popular for casual browsing, media consumption, and light work tasks.

They offer a compact design, touchscreen capabilities, and longer battery life, making them ideal for on-the-go use.

In contrast, laptops, with their physical keyboards and more powerful hardware, are typically favored for more demanding tasks such as content creation, programming, and data-intensive work.

To add to the confusion, some tablets function very much like laptops. These devices blend the portability of a tablet with the functionality of a laptop, often featuring detachable or foldable keyboards and robust processing capabilities. Manufacturers such as Microsoft with their Surface line, Lenovo with the Yoga series, and HP with their Spectre and Pavilion x360 models are prominent in this market.

The choice between a tablet and a laptop depends on various factors your lifestyle, the nature of their work, and their preference for portability versus performance.

Let’s take a look at some key differences.

Design and Portability of Tablets vs Laptops

On average, a tablet is more portable than a laptop.

Displays on a Tablet vs Laptop

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ with Genshin Impact

Displays on most tablets hover around the 8 to 11-inch size, which is a good estimate of how large its total size is. The iPad 10th generation hovers around 10 inches while the Samsung Tab A9 has different options for screen sizes. The exception to this is Windows tablets, which start at 10 inches, although you can buy smaller Windows tablets from non-mainstream brands.

However, some outliers really challenge this. Tablets like the Samsung Tab S9 cost as much as a laptop and have a display that starts at 11 inches all the way to 14.6 inches. A 14.6″ display really pushes into laptop territory. Handling the largest Samsung Tab S9 doesn’t feel like a traditional tablet because of how large the display is. For reference, the largest iPad, the iPad Pro, has a 12.9″ screen.

That said, the Samsung Tab S9 is very slim and has a companion keyboard that’s really compact. This compact package is still smaller than most laptops with a 15″ display, so it’s still more portable.

While there are super small laptops with single-digit display sizes, they are generally not mainstream. If you stick with major brands like Lenovo, Dell, ASUS, Acer, and Microsoft, you’ll find that the smallest laptop you’ll find is above 10″ in display size.

asus zenbook pro duo

That said, laptops can have larger displays than tablets. It’s possible to buy a 17″ laptop. It’s also possible to buy laptops with two screens, such as the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo. Tablets do not come with these options.

Typically, size does matter. There’s a correlation between performance and size because there’s a minimum amount of space necessary to cram a certain amount of memory, storage, ports, and other performance enhancements. We’ll examine this in the next section.

Hardware and Performance

In the last section, we talked about design and portability. If we include performance and hardware quality in the equation, then we’ll have a triangle of relationships.

High performance, affordability, and high portability. Choose two.

Windows laptops are almost always more dynamic than Android or Windows tablets at the same price point. I noticed this significantly when I wanted to play games or do video editing. I find that doing these on a laptop takes less time and provides a smoother experience.

The exception to this is if you are using an app that’s optimized for the tablet, then you might notice the tablet version performing better than the laptop version even though the laptop has better specs. This is most obvious when you have games that have a mobile version and a desktop version.

Mac versus iPad is a bit hazier. While you’ll get more done on the Mac’s iOS because of a wider app variety, the iPadOS is quite an optimized platform which means that apps run very well on them.

In terms of performance ceilings, if you budgeted $1,000 to buy a laptop or a tablet, you’d probably come out ahead with a laptop. On a tablet, you’re paying a good amount for the portability and sacrificing some performance.

For $999, you can get a Samsung Tab S9+, which has a special Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. It’s blazingly fast. Frame rates are also pretty amazing with the Adreno 740 GPU.

For the same money, you will get a laptop with more storage, more ports, more RAM, a dedicated graphics card, and probably a larger screen. With this laptop, you can do video editing, local AI graphics generation, and play top-tier games, but not if you spent the money on a laptop. We’ll examine this in the next section.

Operating System and Software

The operating system is a key influence on your experience when interacting with the laptop or tablet.

While tablets often run on mobile operating systems like Apple’s iPadOS or Android, designed for touch interface and streamlined app-based operations, laptops typically operate on the macOS or Windows. Tech-savvy users might use Linux.

Tablet operating systems are simpler. You can install apps through the Google Play Store on Android or through the App Store on iPads. There’s little configuration needed and things will usually work out-of-box.

Installing software on Windows can be a bit more complicated. First, you’ll need to know if your tablet is compatible with the software. Then, you might be asked a few questions about where you want to install it and a few other options. Or you might be thrown a ZIP file and told to manage it yourself.

To be fair, Mac and Windows have an app store that allows you to install software in the easiest possible way.

The good thing about Windows is that you have a big selection of software. For one, Windows is the leading OS that will run top-tier games like Call of Duty or GTA. Macs do not have the same support for games, but Macs do have software that is proprietary to that OS (such as Final Cut Pro).

Xiaomi Book S 12.4 with Photoshop

You might find yourself wondering if there’s any difference between the same software that has a laptop version and a tablet version. For example, games such as PUBG vs PUBG Mobile. Or Adobe Photoshop.

Generally, games will perform better on a mobile version because they are optimized for the tablet. Whereas with games that are meant for Windows, your performance might be suboptimal if you don’t have a laptop that fits within a specific spec range.

On the other hand, tablet apps like Photoshop can be a simplified version as compared to the laptop version. I wouldn’t use tablet Photoshop for my professional work because it is missing some tools that I would need access to.


Laptops tend to only have one camera that’s facing you. It’s good enough for video conferencing.

On the other hand, tablets tend to have two cameras. The front-facing camera is useful for people who want to take photos, and videos or scan QR codes. I never use the front-facing camera to take photos or videos, but I did find that being able to scan QR codes to be quite helpful, especially when the QR code leads to a website with a complicated form to fill in — I’d rather do it on my tablet which has a keyboard than on my phone.

Which Should You Buy? Uses & Functionality Comparison

Media Consumption
Working (General)
Graphic Design (except where a pen is required)
Drawing and Painting
Video Editing
Reading eBooks
Web BrowsingTIETIE
Long Battery Life
Ease of Use

Whether you’re buying an iPad or Android tablet, you’re always better off buying a laptop for serious work and play.

Let me explain. As you can see from the table above, I recommend laptops for gaming, working, graphic design and video editing. Working effectively requires good hardware, particularly where video and 3D rendering are involved and laptops are more likely to have suitable hardware to enable you to do these tasks. Did I also mention that laptops come with keyboards whereas you’ll have to buy them as an optional extra for most tablets?

Where gaming is concerned, not only do you need powerful hardware like a dedicated graphics card to play leading titles like Call of Duty, you’ll also find that most leading titles are either available for gaming consoles or for Windows.

Here’s a bunch of software that you might use:

Microsoft Office
Google Docs
Adobe Photoshop✓ (stripped-down version)
Final Cut Pro✓ (Mac only)
Adobe Premiere Pro
VS Code

On the other hand, a tablet is better thought of as a secondary utility for specific uses, probably recreational. If you like to lie in bed to watch YouTube or Netflix on a large screen, or read articles on the sofa, carrying a tablet is much more comfortable than holding an “L” shaped laptop with its associated heft.

Apple Pencil USB C

Tablets also have a touchscreen which is great for this purpose, but another aspect that you might like is the pens such as the Microsoft Surface Pen, Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen. These pens give you much more precise control over your drawing and brushing strokes, and allow you to annotate content and write notes as if you were writing on paper.

Web browsing is the task that I rated as a tie between the two devices. Web browsing inevitably can be recreational or for serious tasks. If you’re going to read the news, I’d recommend a tablet. If you are going to fill out an online form, then you’re better off with a device that has a real keyboard (with a numeric pad) like a laptop.

Furthermore, when I reviewed browsers on the iPad, I noticed that I wasn’t able to use extensions on Chrome. Extensions are a fantastic way to enhance your web browsing experience. I use extensions that help me autocorrect typos, block access to distracting sites during work and also video autoplay blockers (also to stop distractions).

Special Case: Windows Tablets Are Almost Laptops

Windows tablets come mainly in two formats. Either a 2-in-1 format or a more traditional format where you can detach the keyboard such as Microsoft’s Surface.

Windows tablets these days will have Windows 11, which is exactly the same as what a desktop or laptop would have.

This means it can run desktop applications, including full versions of software like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and other professional-grade tools that are often stripped down or unavailable on iPad and Android tablets.

The biggest difference lies in the priorities. Windows tablets tend to prioritize compactness, trading off affordability and/or performance. In addition, Windows tablets tend to have these features:

  • Windows tablets can go keyboard-less, via a detachable keyboard or a 360-degree fold
  • They might not be sold with a keyboard (whereas laptops are always sold with a keyboard)
  • They almost always have a touchscreen
  • A stylus is generally a key accessory

Read More: Different Types of Windows Tablets


In conclusion, the choice between a tablet and a laptop hinges on individual needs and preferences.

Tablets offer unparalleled portability and ease of use, making them ideal for casual browsing, media consumption, and light work.

Laptops, on the other hand, stand out for their powerful performance and versatility, catering to more demanding tasks like professional work, gaming, and content creation.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Tablet vs. Laptop Vergleich: Was ist der Unterschied? | Tablet Blog

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