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Device vs. Equipment: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
A device is usually a tool or object designed for a specific purpose, while equipment refers to a set of tools or machinery necessary for a particular activity.

Key Differences

A device is typically a single item or tool designed for a particular task or function. It often incorporates technology or mechanical features and is usually portable. Equipment, however, is a more general term that can refer to a collection of devices or large machinery used for a specific purpose, often in a professional or industrial setting.
Devices are often standalone items, like a smartphone or a sensor, meant to perform a specific operation or measure. Equipment encompasses a broader range of items, possibly including various devices, tools, and gear, such as a full set of mountaineering equipment which might include several devices like GPS and altimeters.
The functionality of a device is usually specific and targeted; for example, a thermometer measures temperature. Equipment can serve a broader function, supporting an entire activity or project, such as medical equipment in a hospital which includes numerous devices like monitors and scanners.
A device is generally a subset of equipment, with the latter term encompassing all necessary devices and accessories required for a complete setup. For instance, a camera can be a device, while all the necessary tripods, lenses, and maintenance tools together are referred to as photography equipment.
Devices can be electronic, mechanical, or electromechanical and are often powered, while equipment may also include non-powered tools, protective clothing, and support infrastructure, essential for a particular activity or operation.

Comparison Chart


Individual item
Collection/set of tools


Specific purpose
Multiple functionalities


Typically used by individuals
Used in various settings, often professionally

Size and Portability

Generally small and portable
Can be large and not easily portable


Smartphone, sensor, calculator
Medical equipment, climbing gear, computer hardware

Device and Equipment Definitions


Any piece of equipment made for a particular use, often electronic.
My reading device stores hundreds of books.


A set of tools or other objects used for a specific activity.
The laboratory equipment includes various high-tech devices.


An object or machine that has been invented for a particular purpose.
The engineer showcased his new water purification device.


The implements used in an operation or activity.
The construction equipment roared to life at dawn.


Something skillfully crafted to perform a specific task.
He developed a device to measure air quality.


Gear or accessories used in a profession or hobby.
Her photography equipment is state-of-the-art.


A mechanism that controls the operation of a machine.
The device automatically shuts off the engine if it overheats.


He necessary items for a particular purpose.
The camping equipment was packed and ready for the trip.


An instrument designed for a specific function.
She used a GPS device to navigate the forest.


Apparatus or hardware necessary for a task.
All the protective equipment was provided by the company.


An object designed and manufactured to perform one or more functions.


The act of equipping or the state of being equipped
Responsible for the rapid equipment of the troops.


A literary contrivance, such as parallelism or personification, used to achieve a particular effect.


Something with which a person, organization, or thing is equipped
The athletes keep their equipment in the locker room.


Can a device be part of equipment?

Yes, a device can be an individual component of a larger set of equipment.

Would a kitchen appliance be considered a device or equipment?

Kitchen appliances are typically considered devices, and collectively as kitchen equipment.

Is a computer a device or equipment?

A computer is a device, and it can also be part of computer equipment when combined with peripherals.

Can software be considered a device?

No, software is not a device; it's a set of instructions for devices.

Can the word 'equipment' refer to personal items?

Yes, it can refer to personal gear for specific activities, like sports equipment.

Is a smartphone considered a piece of equipment?

A smartphone is typically considered a device; it's part of equipment when used with additional accessories for a specific function.

Are tools and equipment the same?

Tools are often hand-held items and can be part of a larger set of equipment.

Can equipment include non-electronic items?

Yes, equipment can include a range of items, not all of which are electronic.

How does the usage of 'device' differ in medical contexts?

In medical contexts, a device is usually a specific tool like a stethoscope, used within medical equipment.

Is the term 'device' more modern than 'equipment'?

Device may imply more modern, often electronic items, while equipment is a more timeless term.

Are devices always powered?

Most devices are powered, but some, like a simple mechanical lever, are not.

Can one item be both a device and equipment?

Yes, depending on the context, an item like a calculator can be both a device on its own and part of office equipment.

Can 'device' and 'equipment' be used interchangeably?

They are not usually interchangeable as equipment refers to a set, and a device is a single item.

Is sports gear considered equipment?

Yes, sports gear is typically categorized as equipment.

Is furniture considered equipment?

In certain contexts, like office furniture, it can be considered part of the office equipment.

Is 'equipment' a collective noun?

Yes, equipment is a collective noun, referring to a group of items.

Can 'device' refer to a method or plan?

Yes, in literary terms, a device can be a technique or plan, but it's not its primary meaning.

What’s the difference between office equipment and office devices?

Office devices are specific tools like phones or computers, while office equipment includes all necessary items for the office to function.

What makes something a 'smart' device?

Smart devices have connectivity and computing capabilities that allow for more advanced functions.

Is a vehicle a device or equipment?

A vehicle can be considered a device, but in industries, it's often categorized under equipment.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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