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Phones vs Tablets for surveying

Should you use a Phone or a Tablet for surveying? Here are the pros and cons.

Should you use a Smartphone or a Tablet for on-site surveying work?

In this guide, we'll explain the pros and cons for each device type.



Cameras on Smartphones are generally better than the ones on Tablets. 

And, since good quality images are crucial for reports, this will be an important factor for many.

Working at Heights


Phones are more convenient when working at heights.

You can easily pop your phone in your pocket when climbing a ladder. But, unless you have pockets the size of Bobo the Clown, carrying a Tablet in your pocket seems unlikely!

Confined Spaces

Are you working in a tight space?
Relax. Take a Deep Breath.

Your Phone is your friend here.
Phones are easier to manoeuvre in small spaces, and (bonus) they also have torches. So your phone torch might ward off any creepy crawlies!

On-site Floorplans

Hey, Squinty,

How are you planning to draw floorplans on-site with that tiny phone screen? You'll find it easier to draw plans on a Tablet.

The large screens on Tablets make it much easier to draw floorplans. But failing that, a large Phone might be ok.

Tennis Elbow?

Repetitive strains are no joke. Ask any plasterer!

When you survey with a mobile device every day, carrying a lighter Phone will save your elbows and wrists.

  • Phones weigh 140g to 226g. 
  • Tablets weigh 310g to 680g.

So undoubtedly, phones are lighter and won't cause as much damage to your joints. However, modern phones like iPhones are getting heavier. So check the device's weight.

Client "Optics"

Are you working?
Or are you playing on your Phone?

Some surveyors say that working on a Tablet looks more professional to clients.

But with technology becoming more available on mobile phones, I imagine this is an old fashioned view that will disappear in time.


Smartphones are better than tablets for surveying in most ways. However, the argument for Phones vs Tablets isn't black and white. It will depend on your way of working.

  • If you don't create floorplans on site, and aren't worried about client perception:
    A Phone is your best choice. They're easier to carry and the cameras are better. You can easily chuck them in your pocket while you move around the building.
  • If you draw plans on-site, or you're conscious of client perception:
    A Tablet (or a Phone with a large screen) may be better. It's heavier so there are potential health impacts, but a large screen will help you with floorplans and tablets look more 'official'

Related guide: Floorplan drawing software for asbestos surveyors.

Are you looking for an asbestos reporting app that works with Phones and Tablets? Schedule a demo of Flow Mobile Surveying today. See booking link below.