PDA vs. Smartphone: Which is a Better Choice for People on the Go?

Choosing between a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a smartphone for your personal and business use? Although the smartphone seems to be the obvious choice for many, the good old PDA’s value should never be underestimated. Pocket PCs and PDAs, in fact, are not completely obsolete. You can find some great models on online stores that sell mobile devices.

Deciding on the better device can be a bit tricky because of their subtle differences. To make things a lot easier for you, here’s a run-through of the basic differences between PDAs and smartphones. From there, you can distinguish the specific features or functions that match your needs better.

Main difference between PDAs and smartphones

The smartphones of today are capable of making and receiving calls and messages, plus some functionalities of PDAs. But before you dismiss the PDA as an inferior choice, read on the factors below that set it apart from the smartphone.

Dependency on wireless providers

PDAs work independently regardless of the wireless carrier you use. When you use a PDA, you won’t have to change wireless networks. In contrast, smartphones are usually limited to just one carrier, so it’s hard to switch between two networks, and you might have to buy another smartphone just to accommodate a second wireless network.


It’s more expensive to own a smartphone than a PDA. Smartphones may be cheaper than PDAs when you first buy one, but the long-term costs involved in using a smartphone outweigh the initial differences in the purchasing cost. Just consider the monthly fee you’ll have to shell out for your phone’s wireless data plan.

Two can be better than one

When you own two separate mobile devices, the advantages of using the full functionalities of two individual gadgets can be greater than that of just one converged device. While a smartphone allows users to multi-task, doing two tasks at the same time on one screen is next to impossible. When you have both devices on hand, you can call your client on your phone while checking your notes or memos on your PDA.

Also, the bigger screen of PDAs is easier to use than the tinier screen of a smartphone—no need to zoom in or scroll the page.

Most importantly, when you own only a smartphone, all your information in it will be gone forever once it’s lost or stolen. But with a back-up device like a PDA, you’ll still have the details of your important contacts.

Thus, two mobile devices are sometimes better than one.


Smartphones offer a variety of connections, such as a cellular network, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. PDAs are also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled but don’t connect to any cellular network. However, you can still use a PDA to communicate with family, friends, and business contacts through its Wi-Fi connectivity using apps such as Skype and Slack.

Final thoughts

So, which of the two mobile computing devices makes a better digital companion? The answer depends on your priorities. Each of these two devices has its own pros and cons. Decide on which features and functionalities matter to you the most, and see which of the two can better serve your needs.