Cricut Explore 3 vs. Silhouette Cameo 4 [Read This First!]


Two very different vinyl cutters, released years apart, and yet comes at a similar retail price.

While the Explore 3 may not be Cricut’s flagship vinyl cutter, it’s still one of the most reliable machines on the market for small DIY projects.

Can it hold a candle to Silhouette’s Cameo 4?

Is it better or worse, and should you even consider buying it? These questions and more will be answered in this article.

Purchase the Cameo 4 Here

Purchase the Explore Air 3 Here

Silhouette Cameo 4 vs Cricut Explore 3 Specs

Let's start by looking at how the features between Cameo 4 and Explore 3 compare.

Cricut Explore 3 Main Features


Here is a list of the main features so you can quickly compare it to the Cameo 4 features below.

  • 350g force
  • Bluetooth
  • Control buttons
  • Double tool holder
  • Design software
  • Compact size

Silhouette Cameo 4 Main Features

Silhouette Cameo 4 Cutting Machine

Here is a list of the main features so you can quickly compare it to the Explore 3 features above.

  • 5kg force
  • Bluetooth
  • Multiple tools
  • Single tap AutoBlade
  • Dual motor system
  • Design software
  • Touch panel
  • Automatic tool detection

Cricut Explore 3 vs. Cameo 4 Detailed Comparison

Okay, now that we know that the Cameo 4 is way stronger (5kg force instead of 350g) than the Explore 3, but is that reason enough to choose the Cameo 4?

Let's have a more detailed look at how they compare.

1. Explore 3 Ease of Use

The Explore 3 machine itself is user-friendliness and perfect for beginners.

I find their design software easier to use than Silhouette's design software (however, it is more limiting if you are an advanced user).

2. Cameo 4 Ease of Use

The Cameo 4 isn’t just Silhouette’s new flagship vinyl cutter; it is also the manufacturer’s most user-friendly vinyl-cutting machine to date.

There have been numerous software improvements, including a touch panel and a few one-touch operations, which simplify the cutting process.

Furthermore, the new weeding tool makes it much easier to see where the excess vinyl should be cut.

Overall I find that Silhouette and its software have more of a learning curve in comparison to Explore 3, but if you stick with it, it will give you more flexibility in design concepts.

3. Cutting Power

The Explore 3 is a small machine. This machine delivers 350g of downward force, which is great for your standard materials like cardstock and vinyl.

However, the Cameo 4 is a different kind of beast. With improved motors, its 5kg downward force can handle any project for small businesses and DIYers.

The extra power allows it to work with thick and complicated materials, such as basswood and leather. This is something that Explore 3 simply can’t do.

In this category, Cameo 4 wins by a landslide.

4. Cutting Speed

Cutting speed tells a slightly different story.

While the Cameo 4 is faster than the Explore 3 in cutting straight lines and has a higher acceleration speed, the differences may not be as significant as you would expect from looking at the difference in cutting force alone.

The Explore 3 is already a fast-cutting machine, and now with the increased cutting speed when using Cricut Smart Materials, the Explore 3 is expected to match the Cameo 4 (if not exceed them) cutting speeds.

This means that both these machines are now equally matched.

5. Cutting Capacity

Cricut Explore 3 No Mat

The Explore 3 now has a greater cutting capacity of up to 13″ x 12′ when using Cricut Smart Materials.

This increased cutting capacity won’t help you with huge projects if you do not use Cricut's Smart Materials.

The maximum cutting size when NOT using Smart Materials is reduced to 13”x 24″, which is good enough for most projects but not even close to the Cameo 4’s 12”x 10’ maximum cutting size.

But do you really have to cut 10ft of anything in one go? That’s a whole other question.

The Explore 3 already matches Cricut’s most popular machine in cutting size, so you may not need a larger cutting size.

6. Matless Cutting

The Cameo 4 can cut without a mat when using its kiss-cut action for rolled materials, or its pop-out cutting feature for paper and cardstock.

The Explore 3 now also can cut Smart Materials (vinyl, iron-on, and cardstock) without the use of a mat.

Explore 3 Matless Cutting

The freedom that the Cameo 4 gives you to cut various material types without using a cutting mat and not being limited to a specific brand means that the Cricut Explore 3 trails behind in this capability.

7. Tools

In the tools department, the Cricut Explore 3 is the winner.

The Cameo 4 has three cutting tools as opposed to the six tools for cutting, writing, and foiling & more that you can use with the Explore 3.

With Cricut's upgrade of moving from a Smart Set Dial to control buttons on the Explore 3, the Explore 3 is more versatile and easier to use with the various tools due to the automatic tool detection feature.

The Cameo 4 is very similar in this regard. This allows the machines to make all the necessary adjustments for you.

8. Precision

Here’s one area where the Explore 3 also performs admirably, though it trails the Cameo 4. The Explore 3 is known for its impressive cutting precision.

It is known to be faster and more precise than the Cameo 3, for instance, with a precision comparable to the Cricut Maker 3, the other top manufacturer’s flagship machine.

With that in mind, the Cameo 4, for all its bells and whistles, may not be much of an improvement over the compact Explore 3.

At least not for small projects like patches, cards, etc.

9. Pricing

This is where things get interesting. The recommended retail price for the Explore 3 is $299.99, the same price as the Cameo 4.

This means that the Cricut Explore 3 (the newer machine) sells for the same price as the Cameo 4.

Purchase the Cameo 4 Here

Purchase the Explore Air 3 Here

Want more detailed information on these machines?

  • Read our full Cameo 4 review post, and see the Explore 3 review post here.
  • You might also find our post full of Cricut Reviews helpful if you want to compare Explore 3 to other Cricut machines.

Verdict: Cricut Explore 3 vs. Silhouette Cameo 4

Silhouette Cameo 4 Review

After all is said and done, the Explore 3 can now be seen as equally matched to the Cameo 4 vinyl cutting machine.

Both the Cameo 4 and the Explore 3 vinyl cutters have significant improvements over their predecessors.

The Explore 3 is a popular and reliable compact tabletop machine. Its ability to cut and draw simultaneously is a top draw.

I love the range of tools that is available for this machine. I think this is an excellent machine for beginners.

With similar speeds, the Cameo 4 can do everything the Explore 3 can.

The only catch would be that if you want to create large-scale projects, you are limited to the Cricut brand of materials with the Explore 3, which is a bummer!

The Cameo 4 can also handle cutting thicker materials as well.

The Cameo 4 is the best choice if you are a more advanced user.

However, if you are not worried about larger-scale projects and don't need to craft with thick materials, then it really will come down to which machine and software you feel more comfortable with.

The Cricut software is easier to use for beginners, but the Silhouette offers more versatility in design.

Grab Your Cameo 4 Here

Click Here if You Prefer to Grab the Explore 3


Cricut Explore 3 vs. Silhouette Cameo 4

To recap, both machines are the same price at $299.99; the Explore 3 is smaller and therefore takes up less space than the Cameo 4.

The Cameo 4 outshines the Explore 3 with its ability as a vinyl cutting machine to cut any material brand regarding its cutting capacity and matless cutting.

That being said, not everyone needs that level of versatility or the cutting power of the Cameo 4.

If you already own the Explore 3 predecessor machine, the Explore Air 2, and if you don’t plan on expanding your operation or working with thicker materials, then you will probably prefer to stick to the Cricut brand and grab the Explore 3.

If this is the first vinyl cutter you will be purchasing, then it simply makes sense to go with the newest machine, the Explore Air 3. 

You’ll have a new toy that’s fun, easy to use, and capable of many projects.

Purchase the Cameo 4 Here

Click Here if You Prefer to Grab the Explore 3

Additional Resources:

Charlene loves making craft projects with her Cricut machines. She uses the Cricut Maker and Explore machines as well as heat presses (Minipress, larger auto heat press, and mug press) when crafting. She has created many different items including customized t-shirts, infusible ink mugs, cosmetic bags, totes, gift cards, and stickers! She loves the creativity that crafting brings and sharing that with everyone.

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