If you carefully look at the options for using the access point, then in addition to the external similarities with the router (router) for the user, the similarity ends.
Now about the difference, but in simple and understandable (I hope) words.
Router and access point – what’s the difference?
Strictly speaking, it is impossible to save a classic router and a classic access point. These devices have completely different purposes.
Access Point (AP) is just wireless "extension" a wired network, which is most often used in two versions: – It receives incoming Internet traffic via cable and distributes it wirelessly (access point / base station mode). An example is a home access point of desktop or wall placement, it is it that is most often confused with a Wi-Fi router (router).
– Receives incoming data wirelessly and transfers it further via cable (wireless client mode)
– There is also the operating mode of the access point, in which it receives and transmits traffic to the wireless connection – repeater or repeater mode.
What is a router? A router (router) is more "clever" a device that not only receives and transmits data, but also redistributes it according to various established rules and executes specified commands.
– route data packets (Internet traffic) between different networks and subnets– assign IP addresses to computers and other devices that are connected to it– ensure their network protection (firewall) – limit the speed of traffic and much more, depending on the type and the high cost of the model.
Prior to the popularization of wireless technology, routers were released without WiFi support. The classic router had only a wired interface and no one would have thought of comparing it to a WiFi access point.
The confusion arose precisely when the routers equipped (!!!) with WiFi transmitters, and, in fact, combined the functionality of the router and access points in them.
The most common question is: "What is the difference between an access point and a router" arises in relation to access points for rooms and inexpensive wireless routers for the SOHO segment. They are not much different both externally and in cost.
Conclusion: In most cases, to distribute the Internet to several home devices – a computer, laptop, smartphone – it is better to purchase a WiFi router and connect the provider’s cable to it. Especially if the router is inexpensive.