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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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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12 Comments -

0 votes

Tweezle

I recently upgraded from the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 to the Galaxy Note 8.

WOW! Big difference! To me, it was well worth the extra money for the slightly larger screen. The S-Pen and writing apps were an added bonus.

My brother and a coworker both have the Galaxy Note 10.1″ tablets. After playing with them (before purchasing the 8″ Note) I determined that the larger size was too cumbersome for me to carry around. The 8″ is almost a perfect fit for my hands and my aging eyesight.

Of course, this is my opinion, based on personal experience and observation. Your mileage may vary, as the author points out.

Thanks for the article! Great info!

0 votes

Chris C

The site TabletSprint shows the actual difference between a 7-inch and 8-inch tablet on screen for both the extra area and the average text size — reading anything on an 8″ display is a world of difference on an 8″ display and one of the main reasons Apple will not offer a “tablet experience” with any smaller size.

TabletSprint is also one of the first sites to offer an 8″ tablet with HD resolution –the new Ramos i8 model (for an impressive $199)… Ramos Technology partnered with Intel this month to introduce the i-Series with 8″, 9″, 10″ and 12″ models ($199-$299) and all models feature HD displays and Intel’s processor with Hyper-Threading technology, which runs four threads simultaneously and outscores many quad-core tablets in benchmark tests–

The Ramos i-8 is now officially the world’s thinnest 8″ tablet– featuring a 7.9-inch HD screen and aluminum-nickel frame for a sleek design; similar in size to the mini iPad… and compared to a 7″ tablet, such as the new Nexus 7, the 8-inch form offers almost 40% more screen space… which makes viewing content much easier — and the Ramos i-8 matches most features of the new Nexus 7 – plus MicroSD storage.

0 votes

Brayan Habid

Hi. The extra inch means a lot of room, almost one extra inch in both the horizontal and vertical size. However, there is a little detail to check: 6,5 inches are about 16,5 cm, but 6,5 square inches are almost 42 square centimeters.

0 votes

likefunbutnot

I have a laundry list of tablet-size devices. A dozen Androids of various sorts, a Surface Pro, an employer-provided iPad and and even a Blackberry Tablet, plus Kobo and Nook eReaders.

My bar-none favorite device for the last two and a half years has been a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. It’s just a few grams heavier than a Kindle Fire, but it’s almost 2″ bigger and has the same screen resolution as many 10″ tablets. Even with a three year old dual core CPU, the Tab 8.9 has been fast enough to do everything I’ve thrown at it. My Galaxy S4 is the only Android device I’ve ever used that’s clearly faster in every possible way.

8″ and 9″ tablets are odd duck sizes but they really are the happy medium and it’s unfortunate that those form factors aren’t more widely available.

0 votes

dancing_betta

If you already have a smartphone with a decent display size, I find 7 inch tablets too small to make a noticeable difference and justify having.
Also, the lower performance WILL frustrate you at some point.

I had an 8″ Storage Options tablet (gift from work) which I sold after a few months because it was just too slow and kept crashing. By the time the apps opened on there I was already working with it on my phone.

Upgraded to an Ainol Hero (dualcore version) and put the cranked_hero ROM from Slatedroid on it – no more bloatware and improved app support in the (already natively supported!) Play Store. Now the 10 inch display is absolutely great to work on, but I have a shoulder bag I can comfortably fit it in.

To me, an 8-inch tablet with decent specs (not like the one I had) is the absolute minimum worthwhile getting, but that’s because I use mine as a laptop replacement for whenever the phone display is just too tiny.

0 votes

Rudi N

I’m still over-the-moon happy with my Nexus 7. After having played with an iPad Mini, it’s immediately clear that the Nexus’ performance is better as well as being easier to hold. Same goes for a full-size iPad – it really does require two hands or a table. The Motorola Xoom was a good tablet when it came out and was another of my considerations (not the smaller Media Edition one) but again, was a bit big for on-the-go anything. The Nexus even fit in some of my trouser and jacket pockets, which can be handy. The battery life is outstanding, needing only to charge it once a week or so with a couple hours use every day. Some smaller tablets have worse battery life than their larger counterparts, but not the Nexus. I used to have a very plastic and cheap tablet, which gave about 2 hours on a good run. It’s all down to personal preference and what you’re going to use it for – I always go back to using a PC or laptop for any real web browsing/research/writing or anything that requires raw power.

0 votes

Scott M

I’ve been using the galaxy tab 7 for almost 2 years now, and I’ve gotta say that I love the small size when compared to an ipad. I use it primarily for reading, so the book like size really appealed to me and it’s always been able to slip into a pocket or bag easily. I’m beginning to think about more horse power these days for newer apps, but generally I very much like the 7″ form factor.

0 votes

Barbara Richards

AWESOME GIVEAWAY!

0 votes

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

0 votes

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.

0 votes

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.

0 votes

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.