Webcam and Laptop Camera: 16 Differences

Differences Webcam and Laptop Camera

You may be in a dilemma and find it hard to decide whether you should make an additional investment in an external webcam or be happy with the built-in webcam in your laptop if you do not know the differences between them.

Well, if you keep reading this article it will clear all your doubts and confusion and make you more knowledgeable and know which is the right choice for you.


  • Laptop webcams are more convenient to use in comparison to the external webcams because it does not need any additional set up and everything is preinstalled in the system.
  • You will not need any additional port to use the laptop camera but an external webcam will, which may not be available in your system after connecting other necessary peripheral devices to it.
  • There are several different types and models of webcam available in the market that will allow you to pick and choose one according to your liking for a better quality but in the case of a laptop camera you will have to be satisfied with what is provided to you by the manufacturers.
  • The quality of images is much better in a webcam with higher resolution but in a laptop camera the resolution is quite low which makes the images look grainy and dark. The audio quality may also be very poor.
  • The overall features and functionalities of an external webcam is much more than a laptop camera but it will offer less portability.

16 Differences Between Webcam and Laptop Camera 

Differences Between Webcam and Laptop Camera

1. Convenience

Since drivers, camera, audio system and software are all pre installed in a laptop computer, using its webcam is much more convenient.

On the other hand, an external camera will need additional setups, configurations, a place to fix or rest it, additional speakers or headsets and more to function which makes it a little less convenient to use.

2. Image Quality

The quality of images rendered by an external webcam will be of higher resolution and quality along with reasonably rich audio, depending on the quality of webcam you chose to use.

On the other hand, even after the best efforts made by the manufacturers of the laptop computers to optimize the performance of the built in cameras, the images still are grainy, dark and low in resolution. The audio may not be good or in proper sync as well.

3. Port Requirement

There is no need for any additional port to connect the laptop webcam because it is already installed and ready to work.

On the other hand, you will need to have a free port to always use the external webcam which may not be available in systems that come with fewer ports that may already be used to accommodate other necessary accessories to the system.

This can be a real issue with the modern laptops that are already cutting on the number of ports.

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4. Options

Your choice of webcam in terms of features and quality will be restricted to what is offered by the manufacturer of the laptop computer in that particular model.

On the other hand, the large variety of external webcams available in the market will offer you a much wider option so that you can choose the one you like most.

5. Size of Components

The space constraints in the case of a laptop camera do not allow using larger components, which, invariably, influences the level of performance and quality of image of the camera.

On the other hand, the external webcams do not have as profound space constraints as the laptop cameras and therefore come with components of high quality which provides better quality images, higher resolution, more speed and fluidity, better color balance and noise reduction.

6. Multi Piece Lens Stack

The image quality of the laptop camera is also affected severely because there is no room for using a multi-piece lens stack.

On the other hand, the external webcams come with a multi-piece lens stack which enhances the quality of the images displayed.

7. Focal Length          

The laptop cameras typically come with a much shorter focal length for which the images in shorter distances are not very crisp as they should be.

On the other hand, the external webcams usually come with an autofocus feature that allows them to adjust the focal length according to the distance of the object, near or far.

8. Light Sensitivity

The laptop cameras do not come with features that can make adjustments based on light sensitivity which, once again, contributes to its lower image quality.

The external webcams, on the other hand, allow doing some fine tuning in poorly lit settings to enhance the quality of images.

9. Audio Quality

The laptop cameras come with in-built microphones but it is certainly not high-end or of stereo quality. The performance output of it varies depending on the location of the speaker as well as the computer solution overall.

On the other hand, there are some external webcams that come with all-in-one features and stereo microphones built in them to offer a high definition and natural-like audio experience.

10. Field of View

With a very limited Field of View or FOV, the laptop cameras are most suitable for video chatting and one-on-one communications.

The wider Field of View of the external webcams, on the other hand, allows more than one person to participate in a video call at any endpoint.

11. Mounting Method

The built-in mounting design of the laptop cameras surely skips the steps and hassles of installation but it also makes it very inconvenient to move the laptop during a video call quite obviously.

On the other hand, the external mounting design of the external webcams offers more flexibility to the setting up options. You can put the webcam on the desk or monitor of a desktop, on a tripod, on the bookshelf or simply clip it on top of the screen of the laptop.

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12. Certification Standards

The laptop cameras are often not intended to perform according to the certification standards of the video calling platforms.

On the other hand, few external webcams are built specifically to function according to the most commonly used video calling platform most seamlessly. This once again ensures that the camera offers much improved features which enable it to provide highly optimized audio and video experience.

13. Maintenance Requirements

The external webcams used in a desktop computer or a laptop computer adds to the device volume which in turn means that you will need to take care and maintain an additional equipment which involves updating and carrying as well.

On the other hand, the laptop cameras are built inside the system itself and therefore general maintenance of the laptop is enough. You will not have to take care or maintain the camera separately to ensure its compatibility.

14. Zooming Capabilities

There are some specific models of external webcams that come with additional zooming capabilities for better viewing of the minute details in an image.

On the other hand, typically there are no zooming features available in the laptop cameras. Even if some of the models have this feature in them, the options offered are very limited.

15. Portability

The laptop cameras are built inside the system and therefore do not cause any portability issues due to additional weight and bulk. If you can carry the system throughout the day, you carry the webcam as well with no additional burden.

However, in comparison, this is a significant problem with the external webcams that you must physically attach and remove every time you need to carry your laptop during day-to-day travels. It will certainly add on to the weight and bulk of your backpack.

16. Upgradability

Since the laptop cameras are fixed inside the system, you will not be able to upgrade it separately when you want to without replacing the entire system which involves a large amount of money.Upgrading a laptop camera is certainly not a DIY job as well.

On the other hand, the external cameras are easy to remove and fix another new one with better features, specs and functions as required by you. It is less costly than buying a new system and less risky upgrading the laptop camera yourself.

Which is Better to Use – Webcam or Laptop Camera?

Differences Webcam and Laptop Camera

Though it all depends on your preference and your needs, knowing a few more facts about an external webcam and a built-in laptop camera and a summarized explanation of the differences and benefits will help you make the right choice.

Almost all laptop cameras available in the market today come with a webcam built in it.

Though different manufactures try hard to optimize the performance of these built in webcams with varied specs and features the images still look grainy and dark, especially in poorly lit conditions.

However, such built-in webcams are just right for video chatting and are more convenient to use since they do not need any additional setup of microphones, software, and drivers.

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All these are already pre installed in the system by the manufacturer.

On the other hand, an external webcam will offer images with much better solutions and quality as well as better quality audio.

However, these cameras need to be set manually and may also need some initial configurations.

Still, in spite of higher price, an external webcam is worth it for its exceptional performance and functions that is not offered by an embedded webcam of a laptop.

The knowledge of the pros and cons of each type of webcam will also help you make your choice.

As you already know, the significant advantages offered by the built-in laptop camera are:

  • No additional cost required in its setup and
  • Ease in use since everything is already provided and preinstalled.

However, the built-in webcam does come with some specific limitations such as unsatisfactory performance with maximum resolution of 720p and minimal or no flexibility since the angle cannot be adjusted.

Moreover, being embedded in the laptop cameras is hard to maintain, troubleshoot or fix if anything goes wrong.

On the other hand, as for the external webcams, the advantages offered are:

  • High resolution of at least 1080p Full HD or even 4K in high-end models that offer greater image quality
  • Clearer and natural sounding audio performance
  • Wider adjustable angle and zoom options for wider Field of View
  • Smart auto adjustment feature to adjust the light conditions
  • AI Tracking support in some models that will keep you framed in front and center automatically in all videos and
  • Higher flexibility.

Still, the external webcam also comes with some significant downsides such as additional cost and installation hassles of the camera and drivers which may not be straightforward always for all external webcam types.

So, after knowing the differences and other facts, should you buy an external webcam or stick to your laptop camera?

It is for you to decide which is right for you. Just make sure it serves all your purposes.

Objectively, you should choose an external webcam if you are looking for more features, functionality, better video quality, and if you are okay with the additional costs and into video chatting and conferences most of the time.

Otherwise, a laptop camera will be just fine.


So, coming to the end of this article and being more informed with the differences and pros and cons of an external webcam and a laptop camera, it should be very easy for you now to make a choice between the two.

That, ideally, was the whole intention of this article.

About Taylor

AvatarTaylor S. Irwin is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience.

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