7-inch vs. 8-inch Tablets: Do You Really Need The Extra Inch?

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The tablet’s rise has predictably led to a diversification of the devices available. Display sizes now ranges between seven to eighteen inches, and everything in between. Consumers are certainly spoiled for choice.

Most people, however, end up looking at a device between seven and ten inches. Here, too, there’s plenty of variety, including tablets that have just an inch of difference between them and are otherwise very similar. Does an inch really make a difference, or is it a trivial non-issue? Let’s take a look.

The Mathematics Of Display Size

samsungtablet

Display size, as commonly measured, does a rather poor job of explaining how large a screen looks. This is because size is only measured diagonally, yet in reality the display has both height and width; which in turn creates a display’s area (as measured in square inches or centimeters).

A 7-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio provides almost 21 square inches of display space. Bumping that up to an 8-inch display results in the display space jumping to almost 27.5 square inches of space – a difference of 6.5 square inches (or 16.5 centimeters).

And if you were to consider a 10-inch 16:9 display, the screen’s real estate expands to a whopping 42.75 square inches, almost double the size of a 7-inch display – even though only 3 inches have been tacked on diagonally!

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So, if you’re wondering whether the difference in size is noticeable, the answer is – Yes! Absolutely! A 7-inch tablet will undeniably be smaller than an 8-inch model, and you’ll probably see the difference even if you don’t compare them side-by-side.

How Screen Size and Specifications Are Intertwined

Of course, for me to simply tell you an 8-inch tablet is 6.5 square inches larger doesn’t really inform you about what the difference feels like. To help explain, let’s compare some common 7-inch and 8-inch tablets side-by-side.

Take Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3, which comes in 7-inch and 8-inch flavors (among others). Here’s how their vital stats stack up.

galaxytab3

As you can see, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is generally superior to its smaller cousin. Everything from the display to the processor and storage is better, faster or just more. The 7-inch model only claims victory in weight, but even then by less than half an ounce.

However, you also must pay $100 more for the larger 8-inch model, so you’re not receiving the benefits for free. Samsung could have very well made the 7-inch tablet more powerful, but decided not to so the price could be kept low.

kindlefirehd89

This difference in specifications applies elsewhere. The basic 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, for example, has a much lower display resolution than its 8.9″ brother – but the larger model is $70 more expensive. However, weight at times can become more of a concern; the Kindle Fire HD is 6 ounces lighter than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

There will probably never be a small tablet that’s considered cutting-edge compared to larger cousins. As already explained, a single inch of difference in diagonal display size translates to a major difference in overall footprint – and that goes for the internals, too. There’s simply more room inside a large tablet for powerful, cutting-edge hardware.

The Value Of Small

Kindle-Fire

So it seems like a smaller tablet is perhaps not the best choice. But this assumes that more is better – or at least worth a few extra bucks. And that may not always be true.

Consider the Kindles. The larger model between the two has a superior display, and its processor is 300 MHz quicker. Yet both devices run the same operating system, have access to the same features, and offer roughly equivalent storage. There’s nothing the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ can do that Kindle Fire HD can’t, and it’s arguable that the average user would never notice a difference in performance between the two.

The same can be said of the Samsung Galaxy tablets, as well – at least when comparing the 7-inch and 8-inch models. While the larger version is superior in every way, it’s not substantially superior, which may make the 50% markup hard to swallow.

This forces me to argue that a 7-inch tablet is generally better than an 8-inch variant because it has a trait the larger model can’t match; size, or lack thereof. A 7-inch tablet will be the lightest, smallest, most portable option available – and usually the least expensive, too. An 8-inch model, on the other hand, is not the smallest or least expensive, yet also not the most powerful or attractive. That honor goes to larger, 10-inch models; speaking of which…

The Benefits Of Big

nexus10

The difference between 8-inch and 10-inch tablets is substantial. Besides a significantly larger display, the 10-inch tablet usually offers a quad-core processor with a more powerful graphics component, more RAM, and an improved display resolution. All of this adds up to an experience that’s noticeably quicker and more enjoyable than what any 7-inch or 8-inch tablet can provide.

You do pay for this with weight and price, and if those issues are a concern, then please do stick with the 7-inch device – it will serve you well. But everyone else should certainly consider a 10-inch tablet, as the experience such a device provides is simply better in every way.

Conclusion

While I consider an 8-inch tablet to be a poor compromise between a 7-inch or 10-inch model, there may be some that disagree for their own, specific reasons. There are also some rare products, like the Kindle Fire HD, which max out at a relatively smaller display size. Leave a comment to let us – and your fellow readers – know why you decided to buy the size of tablet you own.

This review contains affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

Image Credits: Image of computer Via Shutterstock

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Comments (13)
  • sandylemberg

    Excellent article.

    Here is some useful information that was not very clear in the article:

    1. 6.5 / 21 = 30.95

    This means that the 8″ tablet has nearly 1/3 larger screen area than the 7″.

    2. The aspect ratio of the 8″ is 4:3, whereas that of the 7″ is 16:9. The result is that the lengths are nearly the same. Consequently, the WIDTH of the 8″ is about 31% larger.

    My interest in this kind of tablet is mainly word processing (text editing) with an auxiliary mechanical keyboard (Bluetooth) in landscape orientation. (I use it to take notes at lectures.) Therefore, the extra size of the 8″ manifests as screen height. So the extra size of the 8″ becomes a minor factor for my purposes.

    I hope this information helps others with my needs trying to make the best choice.

  • jane

    i have a 4″+ screen handphone and uses it for browsing and some document editing (emergency cases), somehow i think its better to have a tablet that could ease me doing that. im thorn between 2 budget tablets actually which are asus memo pad hd7 and dell venue 8.

  • Peter

    The main benefit of a tablet is portability. I have a 15.6 inch laptop already, so the 7 inch form factor is perfect. Not sold of the $100 extra for 8 inch tablet even though it has better specs.

  • Francis

    Hi,

    I’ve been thinking about buying an 8 inch or 7 inch tablet. Do you think the 7 inch is enough a tablet size for the following applications: browsing (reading news), games, movies, gps navigation?

    In terms of display size, does the 8 inch make a huge difference in portability?

    Thanks,

    Francis

    • Afb

      There is a noticeable difference in the screen real estate available on a 7 inch vs 8 inch tablet, and there is a difference in portability if that is a function of pocketability. That is, if you’re carrying it a bag or purse, no problem. If you’re carrying in you pants pocket or jacket, you could be talking about fitting vs not fitting.

  • Barbara Richards

    AWESOME GIVEAWAY!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.