Tablet vs. Laptop: When is a tablet better than a laptop?


Apple's recent iPad announcements and Samsung's device sales are now making several high-performance tablets very tempting buys. However, choosing between a tablet and a laptop is like picking between sneakers and boots – both have their place, but they serve different purposes. Let's dive into when a tablet might just edge out a laptop as your go-to device in When is a tablet better than a laptop?


Portability ~ Need some Air?

First up, tablets are the powerful featherweights of the tech world. They're slim, light, and ideal for when you're bouncing from place to place. If your bag's already stuffed, a tablet is a no-brainer, especially when even the lightest laptops weigh in at around 1kg or so.

The recently announced Apple iPad Air, for example, is just 462g and 6.1mm thin. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 weighs in at 498g and 5.9mm thin, while the larger 14-inch display Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is 732g and 5.5mm thin. There are plenty of choices for high-performance tablets now, especially if you're looking for a certain size or weight.

There's an ultra-thin high-performance tablet for everyone from the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series


Longer-lasting Battery Life ~ usually more than 24 hours

Tablets are long-distance runners, offering battery life that can outlast laptops by miles. When you're far from a power socket without a charger in hand and need your device to keep up with your day, a tablet won't let you down.

Typically, current laptops are designed to last for a full work day, which is 8 hours. But tablets generally last up to 2 days on a single charge, depending on how they are used. Quite often, high-performance laptops won't last longer than half a working day on a single charge. However, newer ARM-based laptops like the M2-powered MacBooks can last up to 14 hours or so.


A battery screenshot from the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra shows that a tablet can last quite a while


Not just streamers ~ Almost every user provided you have the right app

For the movie buffs and social media addicts, tablets are a dream. Their touchscreens offer an immersive experience for watching, reading, or casual gaming. It's all about fun at your fingertips and you can bring it about to watch on the sofa or any other leisure spot with ease. However, these days tablets can be super handy for other users as well.

With the right apps, you can also do everything from full-fledged writing to spreadsheets and photo editing to video editing. These days, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspaces are fully capable of working well on both iOS and Android tablets.

For the artists and designers, there's Canva and Autodesk Sketchbook and both Apple and Samsung offer solid photo and video editing apps as well. For certain tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series, there are also built-in AI features that can be used to boost productivity.


The recently released Apple iPad Air 2024 with a Magic Keyboard attached


The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with the keyboard and S Pen


Cost ~ Better price-to-performance ratio

If your bank account is giving you the side-eye, consider a tablet. They're often more wallet-friendly, and you can find a range of options that won't require a loan.

Comparatively, a high-performance tablet would generally cost the same as a lower-performing mainstream laptop (about RM4.5K). However, there are exceptions to this rule like the latest iPad Pro, which can go up to RM16196 with all the bells and whistles (Apple Pencil + Magic Keyboard + Apple Care, etc). The midrange Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE is going for RM1799, while the recently released Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2024 and Honor Pad 9 are just RM1499.


If your wallet is looking at you like this, buying a tablet might make it feel better


Bonus: Tablets with keyboards will not Scorch your lap

Despite how cool-running, quiet and energy-saving many laptops claim to be, they'll still warm your lap up a lot more than a tablet keyboard would. This is because most of the heat-generating hardware like the processor and GPU are located underneath the laptop keyboard keys. A tablet keyboard is just all keys and maybe a trackpad, so it will almost never scorch your lap.


Conclusion ~ Better a tablet if you're not a programmer

So, what's the verdict? If your digital life is more about streaming, scrolling, and simplicity with a little office work, design and video editing on the side, there's probably a tablet that has your name on it. But if you're all about power and development (programmers, animators, videographers, gamers and accountants come to mind), a laptop might be your better half.

What do you think? Is a tablet enough for you? Which tablet are you using or looking to get? If you're more on the laptop side then perhaps you'd rather take a look at When is a laptop better than a tablet? Share your thoughts and views in the comments below and stay tuned to