Are smartphones and tablets computers?

Updated: 03/01/2018 by Computer Hope

ASUS Nexus 7 tabletSmartphones and tablets are indeed considered computers. A computer is really any device that accepts input from a user, performs calculations on that input, and provides an output to the user. Typically, input is provided through a mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen interface. Users then see the output on a screen. Like a computer, smartphones and tablets accept input from users, perform calculations, and display an output to users.

In fact, they have many similarities to the traditional desktop PC, including many of the same capabilities, as well as a few key differences outlined in the following sections.

Similarities

Desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets have a lot in common. They all contain a CPU, memory, display functionality and use an operating system that runs programs (apps) to perform different functions.

Differences

Input device

One of the biggest differences between smartphones, tablets, and computers is their input device. Most traditional computers use a keyboard and a mouse, whereas smartphones and tablets use a touch screen interface.

Tip: Some tablets and smartphones accept peripherals, allowing the use of a mouse and keyboard.

Software

Another big difference is software compatibility. Although many software applications work on all platforms, desktop and laptop computers usually run Microsoft Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems. These systems are not compatible with tablets and smartphones, so your favorite computer programs or games may not be available on a tablet or smartphone.

Hardware and peripherals

Also, hardware devices, like printers, digital cameras, MP3 players, and external hard drives, are not compatible, which means without a computer, these devices cannot work.