How does your iPad usage differ from your iPhone usage?

Steve Jobs iPhone iPad MacBook

For those of you who have both an iPad and an iPhone or iPod touch, how does you usage differ between those two devices?

It's been just over a week now and I'm finding that I grab the iPhone for quick, on the go and interstitial activities and the iPad for slower, more relaxed and deliberate activities.

The other day I saw some new stories pop up in RSS and actually walked away from my desktop, picked up my iPad, sat back on the sofa, and started reading them there. I've closed my laptop done the same thing. When you have the time and a nice place to sit, nothing beats the iPad experience. When you're pressed for time and need to race to get things done, nothing beats to iPhone convenience. I'm finding the same is true for gaming, social networking, and productivity apps.

What's clear to me at least is that the early cop-outers were wrong -- the iPad isn't a big iPhone or iPod touch and the iPhone and iPod touch clearly aren't small iPads. Just like desktops and laptops run the same technology and certainly have areas of overlap, they also both excel at their own ends of the spectrum (power towards the 12 core vs portability towards the netbook) and have different ideal use cases.

What's your experience been?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How does your iPad usage differ from your iPhone usage?


I haven't received my iPad 3G yet but I'm pretty sure I will use it more than my laptop. I will use my iPhone for quick look into mail or to reinvest my money with iMobsters or reply to SMS at stop lights when driving.

The iPad is a goods time waster at work. Play with it when there aren't any customers.
On a funny side note, is it wrong to feel happy about having to charge someone $150 restocking fee when returning an Ipad? Cause I felt positively happy seeing their crushed face, lol

I find myself making a lot more calls on my iPhone. Not so many on the iPad. Come to think of it, I don't remember making a single phone call from my iPad.

Your right Rene I find my self doing the same thing most of the time, I don't even touch my desk top any more only when I play WOW.
I'm glad I got a ipad now if I can just keep my wife from swiping it from me I would be in ipad heaven lol.

I feel the same way. Not touching my laptop as much and on the iPhone when I need something quickly on the go. The iPad is awesome.

It's been a home/mobile divide between the iPad and iPod Touch, mostly because I don't want the attention that the iPad would garner on the subway. I take quick notes and read Instapaper on the Touch, but the iPad is superior for both these things. The iPod feels like a toy version of the iPad now.
Speaking of Warcraft, I want a networked multitouch version of Warcraft 2.

Video, email, twitter, and surfing are all much better on the iPad (although iPhone is faster for a quick email or twitter check). The iPad still needs more and better Twitter apps (where's Tweetie aka Twitter for iPad?) and official Facebook and Skype apps. Guess it will take a couple months for the apps to catch up - probably even longer for really innovative new ones to emerge.

iDavey. That's good. That's what you get for impulse buying. Screw it. Anyway. I'm still trying to justify getting one of these things. With the fact that i spent $4,000 not 8 months ago on a new desktop build and a new craptop. But I know as soon as I see the 3G iPad on the shelf it will be in the shopping cart and I'll have a smile on my face. And it will finally give me a chance to use my $20 best buy gift card I haven't been able to spend since Christmas.

I find i prefer using the iphone over the iPad most times. For big screen viewing i head to my desktop..kid free zone.
A couple days ago, the iPad sat for a day unused. Decided to return it. But i really wanted to like it as i'm a sucker for new gadgets. I gave it time to see if it'd fit into my life but it doesn't.
I think its just different needs and different perspectives. I use a computer all day at work. My work (CPA) requires windows and a laptop on the go. I have to have Office, audit software, tax software, etc at home, work, etc.
Between an iphone, laptop, and desktop, i don't have time for an iPad. When i'm on the couch, the last thing i really want is to stare at an iPad. I'll usually have my iphone handy for those times.
Even reading books, the iPad still feels like i'm looking at a computer screen which i already do too much of. The Kindle doesn't feel that way.
For those who simply bought a laptop for simple tasks like web browsing, i can see the iPad working out.

When I got my iPad I knew just what I was getting into, I knew that the iPad was doing to fit in my life. I'm in school and Im a asst Pastor and I used my iPad in my lesson instead of pen and paper it's so small that you don't really notice it. All I can say be for you buy the iPad make sure it will fit in your life in away that you get your money worth out of it.

The only times where I have used my laptop since my ipad arrival has Been to sync new material over to the Pad. The iPad is great, shame on me that I doubted this product when it was first announced!
Idavey- I too wanted to return my 16gb but only to exhange into a 32gb- not only would I had to pay a 50$ restocking fee, but also this all would of had to be done through the mail since my ipad was shipped to my home on launch day. I have since decided to stick with my 16gig and deleted the majority of my music off the platform and now have plenty of space.
Something about the ipad that doesn't make it too inviting to use it as a music player.

iPad sits mainly on my nightstand. Read a book before sleep, check some news on various apps, quick check of emails, then back on the nightstand.
Have traveled once so far and watched a couple of movies streaming Netflix on Virgin America wireless.
My iPhone is still the daily workhorse for calls, emails, and many apps that are not iPad ready.

Rene - I have had a very similar experience to you. When I'm out of the house and on the run, I just bring my iPhone. When I'm going somewhere that I know I'll be sitting for a while (restaurant, doctor's office), I bring my iPad. Around the house, I mostly use my iPad, since I'm sitting down and reading books or browsing the internet. If I read a headline that I find interesting on my iPhone, I pull out my iPad to read the entire article. The only time I open my laptop now is to type out long e-mails and open highly formatted attachments that still need to open in Word. I bought the 32 Gb iPad since I thought I would put a lot of music on it, but at this point, I think it will be used mostly for movies, books, internet, and mail (and just about anything besides music). My iPod will remain the dominant music device in my collection.

Gino from the Bronx - I know! i tried to use it as a iPod in my car it's just did'nt feel right, but I got the 64gb so I'm safe for now, but i can for see me using it all lol up in the near future.

THANK YOU Rene for saying that the iPad is NOT a big iPhone or iPod touch or vise versa. I've been saying this the whole time! The analogy bugs the crap out of me haha.

I'm barely using my laptop anymore. Just last night I realized it wasn't even on (battery completely drained and I didn't notice it). Only reason I grabbed it was cause I had to run a biostatistics application (although I normally do this from my work laptop).
Just got a return authorization number torerurn my ipad.... To get the ipad 3G.... Having trouble with WiFi at work so apple agreed to give me a full refund.

Any time I have a wifi connection which is most of the time I use the iPad. The iPhone is used for phone calls and messaging. But browsing and other Internet stuff is done on the iPad. So far I am loving this thing.

I find my usage is the same as Rene's usage I use my iPhone more for looking up things quickly and reading my emails. I use the iPad for web browsing, reading books and watching movies. My favorite part about my iPad is the light weight and the lack of heat emanating from it. My laptops get very warm when using them, so it makes web browsing less comfortable. I also use my ipad more for calendar entries. Since I use the same Yahoo calendar between my wife's iPhone, my iPhone and the iPad, everything is synced up and we love it. My laptop has been relegated to Photoshop duties, which I haven't had much time for lately. Basically it just collects dust. Overall, my iPad/iPhone combo has worked well for me.

I have been leaving my MacBook at home. Using iPhone to listen to music and read the incoming email. If I have to respond fast I use the iPhone. iPad has been getting the most use, surfing the net on the sofa. Netflix or reading iBooks at night. I found myself in front of the iMac thinking, I used to sit here to watch netflix and surf Internet? iMac is there as a work sation for writing papers and working on adobe illustrator.

I guess I'm amazed how my computer work has been 're-subdivided' by the iPad. I find that I do all my email, twittering and information consumption on the ipad. All my photography work still gets done on my laptop. In fact, at this point, as soon as my iphone contract runs out in a year, I'll probably get a cheap phone and plan for just voice and texting. Everything else I use the iphone for now I can do (for the most part) with the ipad. As an 'older' person I really appreciate that bigger screen. Currently I use my jailbroken iPhone for tethering to the wifi ipad, but will probably buy the next iteration of a 3G model in a year and pay less for data.
I fully realize though why some people don't like it, it's not a 'creation' tool (just a consumption tool). But that's ok by me!

Youre right. The ipad is not a big iPhone. But only because it doesnt make calls. So essentially it is just a big ipod touch hahah.

All of you people who are saying that your laptop/desktop is being neglected are making me laugh :)
Of course it is! You have a shiny new toy to play with! I know if I wasted $500 on a new gadget I would be justifying its use every chance I had.
Oh wow! This thing is so amazing! I can browse the web from my comfy couch.. welcome to 1999 people.
This question should be asked again in a couple of months when honeymoon is over...
cardfan summed it up best

@iDavey $150!!! It's 10% of the purchase price. Not even the top of the line 3G model would be that much to restock. LOL

I work at home all day on a Mac (none of which can be done with an iPad). My iPhone is for mobility (and isn't even used enough to run down a full charge in a day).
There's a whole world out there with so many great things to do, and so many places to go, and so many people to meet and to laugh with.
The thought of people always on an iPhone, iPad, or computer, is just sad.

I agree with you Renee. My MacBook has been sitting on the corner of my desk collecting dust. My AppleTV hasn't been turned on. Everything I use to do with both I now do on my iPad. Am I obsessed. You could say that, but then you would have to call my girlfriend and everyone I know that's doing the same thing obsessed also. On the other hand, since I'm forced to be a verizon customer I've found that mobile hotspot on my webOS device is pretty much a match made in heaven for my iPad and it's lack of 3G.

What's interesting is how many aren't using their iphone as much. Some even just for messaging & calls (may as well get a dumbphone).
That's tempting to get a cheaper Sprint plan and something like a Pre which should do well enough for those times you're without the iPad. Would even pay for the iPad (even a 3G one possibly) over time.

Yeah I find that I like it for browsing large photo rich web pages. Other than that, it is just a giant iPhone. I still like email better on gmail mobile in safari on both. I still haven't been able to justify the price I paid for it when I already have an iPhone.

Since I received my 32GB Ipad I have used my iphone 3GS much less. I still use my iphone on the go and at home for texting, apps, tracking sport scores. I still love my iphone and its irreplaceable. When I want to do real computing and graphic design work I use my MAC PRO connected to a 30" Apple Cinema display.
However the IPAD has its niche and that is doing more in depth web browsing, gaming, apps, netflix streaming, magazines in digital format and ibooks. Anyone who thinks its a big Ipod Touch or Iphone clearing does not own an IPAD or is just a jealous hater or is waiting for Google knockoff version. This may seems like a novelty device for some but not for me this device is awesome and its not a fad.
Its just better than sit on the couch with a laptop.
Infact my wife uses her Macbook Pro I just got her in October much less, so I am giving her the ipad wifi and I just preordered another one for me but WIFI+3G 32gb.

I have been doing my best to wait for the 3G. Then I got a loaner for the weekend from my place of work. It quickly fit into my life at home. I picked it up pretty constantly throughout the weekend for a variety of uses -- keep up with e-mail, websites, games, watch NetFlix, and so forth. I puttered for a few hours with the productivity side and decided iWorks will take some getting used to, years of conditioning by MS I guess, but I have a feeling that it will be pretty good in the end.
I reluctantly packed it up for return Monday morning, and I have been feeling a little lost without it since then. (Pathetic, right?) My new ploy is to find someone who would want a WiFi-only, so I could go ahead and get one. Then pawn it off on them when my 3G comes in. Maybe my Dad -- Father's day is coming up. ha.

I use my iPad for web surfing, wiki searches and other media, data related items then my iPhone now. I find when sitting on my couch watching TV it is real handy for those down (*mental) moments. Ironically I prefer my phone for quick data tasks like a quick check of my email, stock prices, weather check and other quick glance items. The iPad requires more effort for these and the apps aren't as to the point.
So yes I use my iPad for media consumption and my iPhone for quick tasks. But I read books on my iPad exclusively and listen to music on my phone exclusively.
And I will say having both is the way to go. Now if I can get the iPad to tether to mu iPhone I will be in "i" heaven!

I use my iPhone more at work and for social media stuff but I use my iPad at home more. I actually use my iPad more than my MacBook Pro. I hate to sound like an Apple fanboy but Steve got it down. Having an iPhone, iPad and a Mac is perfect.

dont get me wrong i love the size of the ipad but the size of my ipod touch makes it more useful for me.i personally think the ipad is only good for peoople that need the screen size cause playing games is better on the ipod touch.there is not enough time in the day to play with all my carrying my ipod touch on my lap while im driving is easier.the ipad would be too sorry Apple will not get my hard earned money everytime they come out with something new,just once in a sticking with my jailbroken ipod touch 2g while i multitask all my apps.thanks for making and designing the ipod touch but the underground programmers and hackers make it the life tool that it is since day one

Ipad is the best example of consumism. You dont need it at all. But you still buy it. You already have an iphone, an ipod and a Macbook in which you can do A LOT MORE and much BETTER (not crippled = with flash and silverlight). But you still buy it. You know its underpowered, but hey, its Apple. So you buy it. People tell you that ipad is not that good, and you defend it sitting on your couch, while watching TV, "quick checking" email from the iphone, sending sms and talking trough your iphone.