Computer vs. Smartphone
When looking for a computing device, there are many options out there. Today, a decision you may have to think about is whether to purchase a computer or a smartphone. Both can provide computing capabilities, run software and perform other tasks, but there are many factors to consider between the two options. Below is a chart to highlight some of the important factors to consider, including the pros and cons of each.
|Power||More powerful computing processors typically require greater amounts of power and cooling. Computers are equipped to provide these requirements for processors, thus being able to feature higher computing power overall.||Smartphones are more compact and do not have the capability of providing the amount of power and cooling that more powerful processors require. They are limited to lower voltage processors, although processors of this type are becoming more advanced and powerful.|
|Cost||Prices for a computer (desktop or laptop) can vary widely, depending on its capabilities, storage, and features. A more powerful computer will be more expensive, but computer prices can range from $300 to $2000.||Cell phones, specifically smartphones, can vary in price based on power and various features, but not as much as computers. Prices can be $100 to $500 in most cases with a contract.|
|Screen size||Desktop computers use monitors with large screen sizes. Standard monitor sizes are between 17" and 19" in most cases, but a desktop computer can connect to even larger display units, including a TV or Projector, allowing for even larger screen sizes. Laptops typically feature screen sizes up to 17".||Smartphones, due to their smaller size, feature smaller screen sizes ranging from 2.5" to 4.8", with a few exceptions. To get a bigger screen size (up to 10"), you would have to venture into the tablet market, which can sometimes feature phone call capabilities, but that is not standard.|
|Portability||Desktop computers are not considered to be portable. They are not easy to move around. Laptop computers are considered portable, being more lightweight and easy to place in a backpack, but laptops with larger screens (17") can become bulky and more difficult to carry around, weighing up to seven or eight pounds.||Smartphones, while a bit bigger than a standard cell phone, are still more portable than any computer. They are very lightweight and can fit in a purse or pants pocket with ease. They are designed to be taken everywhere with you, thus the very definition of portable.|
|Storage||Computer hard drives are already over one terabyte (TB) and continuing to increase in size. Even the most basic computer comes with a 250 gigabyte (GB) hard drive today. This applies to both desktop and laptop computers. For most people, storage will not be an issue, since even 250 GB is more than enough for many users.||Some smartphones come with built-in storage, ranging from 8 GB to 64 GB. In some cases, an expansion slot may be available for adding an additional memory chip for more storage capacity. Smartphones, in general, will offer less storage capacity than a computer, but for most users, the storage provided is more than adequate. As memory chips increase in size, so will the storage capacity of a smartphone.|
|Connectivity||Although a computer can connect to a 3G, 4G or other phone network, computers do not come with the necessary equipment built in. Most laptops rely on a Wi-Fi signal in order to connect to the Internet.||Smartphones have a data plan that allows them to be connected to the Internet at all times, as long as the phone is receiving a signal from a cell phone tower.|
|Operating system||Computers come with a more fully featured operating system due to having the computing power and memory requirements. Both desktop and laptop computers can run a fully featured version of an operating system, with the option to choose the operating system on PCs.||Tablets come with a more slimmed down operating system due to having more limited computing power and memory. The Android OS and Apple iOS are adequate operating systems for tablet users, but not the fully featured operating system found in a computer. Even the Windows operating system found on select smartphones is a slimmed down version of that found on a computer.|
|Data Entry and user input||A computer uses a keyboard for data entry that most users are familiar with and comfortable using. In addition to a keyboard, the mouse is also available for easy scrolling and clicking.||Smartphones most commonly feature an on-screen touch keyboard that is much smaller than a standard computer keyboard and can be difficult for users to type with, especially users with bigger fingers. Some smartphones feature a slide-out keyboard, with actual keys to press. Again, this keyboard is much smaller than a standard computer keyboard and can still be difficult for some users.|
Most users today have both a smartphone and a computer in their home. They use a smartphone for phone calls, messaging, browsing the Internet, reading e-mail, and other small jobs and use a computer for more complicated projects or work. If you are trying to decide between only a smartphone or a computer, also consider a tablet or a hybrid computer, which offers the best of both a laptop and tablet.
Finally, if you're considering a smartphone but don't think you'll use the Internet or data very much, we highly recommend purchasing a feature phone instead of a smartphone to avoid the monthly data costs on your phone bill.