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Phablet vs. tablet: How can IT determine which option is best?

For mobile endpoints, IT must determine the best choice of phablet vs. tablet. IT should examine the strengths and weaknesses of each device type before making a choice.

Many mobile device manufacturers have increased the size of their devices' screens over the past couple of years, and certain enterprise use cases can maximize the benefits of these larger devices.

Many mobile devices are approaching the size of small tablets, also known as phablets. Organizations can choose between phablets and tablets for their workforce. To do so, IT should work through the pros and cons of phablets vs. tablets in several work-based scenarios.

Decision points for phablets vs. tablets

Device size
Phablets are up to about 6 inches tall, after which most users object to carrying them around as phones because they don't fit easily into a pocket or purse. Mobile users that work while traveling are good use cases for phablets.

Most tablets fall within the range of about 8-10 inches. These devices are better in stationary use cases so users don't have to carry them around.

Screen size
For many applications, screen size matters, and phablet vs. tablet screen size is a no contest. Tablets have, by definition, larger screens. It's hard to see a complex drawing on a smartphone -- even with zoom capability -- and it's even harder to read and complete a complex form.

For many applications, screen size matters, and phablet vs. tablet screen size is a no contest.

Users can put tablets down or prop them up on something, which is convenient if they are field service workers, for example, and they need both hands to complete a task. Tablet screens are usually big enough that users can also easily read them from a moderate distance.

Device input
Smartphone users typically input commands by typing via a built-in keypad or swipe. Tablets, however, often include a pen in addition to the keypad. Pens are superior to keypads for users that need to fill out forms or interact with complex documents by drawing or performing precise input commands. These controls are crucial for users that use graphics editing applications, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

Both tablets and phablets have touchscreens for navigation, but the larger screen that tablets offer means that users can more easily choose a specific area.

Primary function
Even though phablets are large, their primary function is still to operate as mobile phones. Much of a phone's complexity results from the need to make phone calls.

Tablets, on the other hand, are primarily designed to work with data. Most tablets don't have any phone communications built in -- with the exception of voice calling over Wi-Fi.

Connectivity options
Most phablets connect over a 4G network even though they may have Wi-Fi capabilities.

Tablets are just the opposite. If an organization needs a device that is Wi-Fi connected and that stays at one or a few locations, such as a limited use or kiosk device, then a tablet is a better choice. This decision can save organizations money that they would otherwise spend on a mobile carrier plan.

App availability
Organizations selecting smartphones often choose between the two primary mobile OSes: Apple iOS and Google Android. While both OSes have many mobile applications available within their respective app stores, they may not have the apps an organization needs for its users' workflows. Tablets can also run iOS and Android, but, in some cases, tablets can also run Microsoft Windows OSes.

Organizations weighing phablets vs. tablets must know which apps they plan to run and what types of peripherals they need to add to their devices. In some cases, organizations might want to manage all of their apps as Windows 10 apps. They can accomplish this with tablets that run Windows 10, but this is not an option with phablets.

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