smartphone or tablet on the construction site

Do you Need a Tablet, Smartphone, or Both?

Recently, we published an article about the 6 best smartphones for architects. It spurred a conversation in the office about which was actually better for architects: smartphones or tablets?

After a bit of back and forth, we realized, actually, one really doesn’t outshine the other, and it really depends on what the architect’s needs are.

We thought is was an interesting conversation, and we felt it could help you decide which would be best suited for you when it comes to working—a smartphone, tablet, or both?

In this article, we will outline what the major differences are, and the pros and cons of each.

What is the difference between tablets and smartphones?

The main difference is the size of the screen. Smartphones usually have screen sizes between 4″/10cm and 7″/17cm, a tablet is anything over this.

What is the difference between tablets and smartphones? | Archisnapper

When it comes to processing power and available apps—they usually share the same capabilities.

But this doesn’t mean they are the same; people use them in very different ways.

While some people may carry their tablets around with them, they are mostly used at home or in the office.

Smartphones are generally carried everywhere as they are more portable, making them easier to have on hand around job sites.

Tablets are much easier to read on and use to type.

Reading and reviewing plans on a smartphone is more challenging. Additionally, typing out longer pieces of text is harder, because the screen and keyboard are smaller.

Smartphones are much easier to make calls on, generally, have better internet connections. Tablets cannot receive SMS messages, which makes them less ideal for communication.

Both are powerful tools, but let’s delve into some more of the pros and cons of each.

Tablets: pros and cons

A tablet is designed to sit on the table or lap, to be carried in a case or briefcase. This means that while they have much bigger screens, they are heavier and less durable.

Pros of using a tablet

Pros of using a tablet | Archisnapper

Better for extended work sessions: Tablets are designed to work for longer hours, which makes them better for extended work sessions than smartphones. When it comes to editing photos and videos of the project, it is a superior tool because the visibility is much better. Many tablets have a longer battery life than most smartphones.

Reading and writing: Tablets are easier to read and interact with content. This is especially when it comes to viewing documents, drafts, and drawings. It is also easier to use interactive websites and read large pieces of information on a tablet. Reading and writing content is more comfortable.

Video calling: Tablets are easier for video conferencing. Propping your tablet on the table allows you to conference with clients with a professional feel, than holding your smartphone in front of your face.

Cons of using a tablet:

Cons of using a tablet | Archisnapper

No texting: Tablets cannot receive SMS messages or use WhatApp independently. There are some apps which you can use to connect your mobile to your tablet, but as a standalone device, they are less than ideal for communication.

Awkward calling: You can make calls through platforms like Skype and Facebook Messenger (among others) but holding your tablet like a phone is clunky and awkward. You can use the handsfree or a headset, but once again, they are less than ideal.

Heavy: While a smartphone easily slips into your pocket, you need a case to take your tablet around with you. They are less convenient for moving around, climbing ladders, and trekking around job sites.

Smartphone: pros and cons

Pros of using a smartphone | ArchiSnapper

Handy: A smartphone is designed to be used in the hand and fit comfortably in your pocket or purse. It’s low weight, high durability, small size, long battery life, and with the ability to use voice commands and one-handed usability, it is the ideal device for on the go.

Better communication device: If you need to talk on your phone a lot, or if you’re going to be sending a lot of texts and instant messages, then a smartphone is a better tool. Because it is always with you, it is more ideal for communicating effectively.

Camera: If you will need to take a lot of photos of your job sites, the camera is easier to point and shoot with a smartphone. Generally, the cameras on smartphones tend to capture higher quality images than tablets, while also being a lot easier to carry around.

Cons of using a smartphone

Cons of using a smartphone | ArchiSnapper

Difficult reading and writing: The small screen of the smartphone makes them more challenging to read on. They are not ideal for viewing documents or drawing. The tiny keyboard is not ideal for writing long pieces of texts. Reading and writing content is less comfortable. While it is possible to review documents and sketches, it is less preferable to a tablet.

Which is best for you on the construction site?

Think about how you would be using the device on the construction site.

Do you need it for viewing or editing large drawings, or for reading and writing long texts for meeting notes, field reports, and punch list reports? If so, you probably want to consider using a tablet.

Consider where the overlaps are.

Which is best for you? Smartphone or Tablet? | Archisnapper

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