POS tablets

There was once a time when restauranteurs had just two choices for their point of sale (POS) system. The most functional and capable would come at significant cost in the form of bulky touchscreen till hardware, while the budget option amounted to what was essentially an old-fashioned cash register with an LCD screen.

In short, if you couldn’t afford the big stuff, you had to settle for a POS system whose only talents lied in arithmetic and the ability to fire a cash drawer. This consequently put independent operators at something of a disadvantage to the big chains.

How times change. The introduction of the iPad and the numerous competing products that followed heralded a new dawn for restaurant POS. Low cost tablet devices coupled with lithe yet deeply functional apps have made enterprise-level POS solutions more accessible than ever.

Unfortunately, with great innovation comes even greater choice, so, in this post, we’re going to help you answer a question that is possibly rattling around your head: should you choose an iPad or Android POS system for your restaurant?


Apple’s massively popular tablet was originally released in 2010 and met with a rather muted reception. “It’s just a big iPhone,” said the tech press. Fast-forward six years and it can be found in all walks of life and business.

But is it right for your restaurant’s POS operation?

The specs

Apple is famously tight-lipped about what goes on under the hood of the iPad, but continues to push forward impressively when it comes to mobile processing power. So, grunt is unlikely to be an issue. But what about the rest?

  • Screen sizes: From 7.9” to 12.9”
  • Battery: 10 hours
  • Warranty: 1 year from manufacturer
  • Mounting: Not specifically designed to be mounted, but a large number of 3rd party options are available
  • Connections: Just the one – a Lightening port, which means dongles will be necessary if you need to attached cash drawers or Chip and Pin devices
  • Data connectivity: WiFi as standard, cellular optional
  • Pricing: From around £210 for the smallest (iPad Mini)

Operating system

iPads come pre-installed with the iOS operating system and are built specifically for that platform. The benefit is that you’ll have no virus worries and access to a huge app store, but you’ll have to sacrifice ultimate configurability and accept you’ll be at the mercy of any significant changes Apple decides to make to iOS that may impact the software and external devices you use.

Android tablets

Google’s mobile operating system has spawned hundreds of devices and manufacturers keen on taking advantage of the most open of mobile platforms. With so much choice available, how do Android tablets fare compared to the iPad when it comes to POS?

The specs

Given that you can source Android tablets from a variety of manufacturers, we’re going to concentrate on a generic look at the specs that matter for restaurants.

  • Screen sizes: a huge range from as little as 5” to 22”
  • Battery: 10 hours
  • Warranty: Typically 1 year from the manufacturer, but better can be had if you shop around
  • Mounting: Several Android tablets have the ability to be mounted via standard VESA fixings and many POS vendors have designed their own tablets with built-in mounts or stands
  • Connections: Plenty of choice ranging from USB to ethernet, MSR and 1D barcode
  • Data connectivity: WiFi as standard, cellular optional
  • Pricing: From as little as around £60

Operating system

Android is ‘open’, which means it can be fiddled with (to a degree) and customised by tablet manufactures to best suit their hardware. Like iOS, it features a very vibrant developer community and an impressive range of POS apps.


There is no doubting the simple brilliance of Apple’s industrial design and iOS’ ease of use, but when it comes to the world of restaurants and POS, the iPad can be a risky choice. You’ll pay more for the privilege of using Apple hardware and will likely discover that you’ll have to invest further in peripherals, dongles and 3rd party mounts in order to make it a viable till system.

The sheer configurability and hardware choice the Android platform affords is too hard to ignore and suits the world of hospitality perfectly. Devices are generally cheaper than their Apple counterparts and most POS vendors have taken advantage of the ability to create their own hospitality-focused devices and user experience.

In this battle, Android wins.

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