A smartphone’s uses are endless: checking emails, social media, browsing the web, online shopping, and taking photos, to mention a few. They are all things you might have once done on your laptop, which leads you to think: are smartphones replacing laptops?
Smartphones are not replacing laptops yet, despite being common. While more people consume information on smartphones than laptops, laptops are still essential for many purposes, including document creation or video editing—professional tasks requiring a larger screen and more control over the software.
Read on to find out more about just exactly why smartphones are so popular, what the enduring appeals of laptops are, and whether or not smartphones will ever really replace laptops.
Smartphones vs. Laptops: Usage Trends
|Global Laptop Units||2020||173||Million|
|Global Smartphone Units||2020||1.5||Billion|
|Global Laptop Market Sales||2020||132||Billion|
|Global Smartphone Market Sales||2020||134||Billion|
|Global Laptop Market Sales Projected||2027||181.5||Billion|
|Global Smartphone Market Sales Projected||2027||259.5||Billion|
When you see smartphones being used around you, left, right, and center, and almost every time you walk down the street, it can be tempting to think that those little pocket computers have won. They have entirely replaced laptops as everybody’s primary device of choice.
If we look at usage trends, that assumption is correct—or at least it is starting to be. As of February 2021, 55% of consumers use smartphones as their primary device, compared to 42% of those who use a computer (desktop or laptop). Only 3% use a tablet as their primary device.
This information means more people rely on smartphones as their primary device, but that does not mean that most people do. The statistics show that over half of consumers favor their smartphones above all other devices, but it is premature to say that smartphones have replaced laptops entirely. The difference between 55 and 42% is not huge.
There is also more to these statistics than just more people using smartphones than laptops. While the numbers indicate that more people use smartphones as their primary device, it does not mean that most people do not also own and operate a laptop. It is also evident that smartphones are becoming ever more popular, but they have not replaced laptops.
Why Are Smartphones So Popular?
There are several reasons why smartphones prove so perennially popular: as the list of smartphone features increases, so does its popularity. Let’s delve deeper.
Smartphones Are Convenient
Smartphones are convenient is probably the main reason why smartphones are so popular: they are just so darn well suited for us. Not only does their small size make them easy to carry around with you, but they also provide you with many of your technological needs at your fingertips. Gone are the days of carrying around a bulky laptop if you wanted to do work on the go – smartphones grant us the ease of software such as Microsoft Office whenever we need it.
Smartphones Can Do a Lot of Useful Things
These days a smartphone is not just something you use to make calls. You can send messages, either text or through a messaging app, surf the internet, play games, take high-quality photos, and many more things, and the list almost seems endless! It is no wonder that smartphones are so popular when they have so many uses.
Smartphones Can Be Less Expensive
Okay, now this point does depend on what smartphone you are comparing to what laptop, as sometimes a smartphone can cost more than a laptop, but most good quality laptops outprice smartphones.
This expense can be a problem for people who can’t afford such expensive technology. A smartphone like the Google Pixel can be a great, less expensive alternative that gives them access to the internet and even things like Office apps.
See some of our other interesting articles like “What Are Green Electronics?” and “Why Is My Phone Using Data When I’m Not on It?”
A Smartphone As Your Only Computer
While laptops are still most people’s preferred way of working with technology, there is a possibility that eventually, smartphones will replace laptops – likely not entirely, but certainly for more and more people.
As each new smartphone model is released, the gap between what a smartphone and a laptop can do gets smaller and smaller. It is now entirely possible to use a smartphone as your only computer only if you need to do more general office work. There are a few key reasons why.
Smartphones Are Much More Powerful These Days
A few years ago, most people would never have thought about using their smartphone for work in place of a laptop. Smartphones just weren’t powerful enough for that kind of thing back then. Now, things have changed. For example, the Samsung Galaxy series or the iPhone come with processors that practically outperform many laptops and only get stronger.
You can use these mobile devices for pretty much anything that you might need a laptop for, such as creating documents and editing videos. The fact that Samsung markets these smartphones as essentially just tiny computers tell you everything you need to know about them, and whether or not you can ditch your laptop and pick up one of those instead.
Your Phone Is Now More Powerful Than Your PC
A quote from Samsung’s article below, “Your Phone Is Now More Powerful Than Your PC,” describes how today’s smartphones are more powerful than many of today’s computers and only getting faster and more powerful.
“Forget the oft-cited statistic that today’s smartphone is more powerful than the mainframe computer NASA used to send astronauts to the moon. Today’s smartphones are faster than the mid-’80s Cray-2 Supercomputer, faster than the computer onboard the Orion spaceship NASA is currently testing to go to Mars and — perhaps most significantly — faster than the laptops most of us are carrying around.”Samsung’s Insights – Your Phone Is Now More Powerful Than Your PC
Many of us are already using a laptop with a doc to use an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor at our desks at work.
Mobile Powered Desktop Computing
Making smartphones even more interesting, some new models support keyboard and mouse input and external monitors. In the article “The beginner’s guide to Samsung DeX,” Samsung also promises to usher in a new era of mobile-powered desktop computing.
This new technology means those who like to work on their desks with a bigger screen, a mouse, and a keyboard now have that option. There is no need to hop on to another device.
All of this also means that smartphones are more accommodating than ever to the different ways people use them, meaning that for those who use laptops but are looking for a more flexible option, a smartphone might be a good choice.
Smartphones Have Become Much More User-Friendly
One big reason why many people tended to stick with their laptops for work was that mobile UIs (mobile user interface) used to be annoying when using them for anything more than browsing social media or watching videos online. The screens were just too small to do anything with, and it quickly became frustrating trying to edit a document that you could barely see or try to do something more complex using a touch-screen.
Again, tiny screens are not as much of an issue anymore; devices like the Samsung Galaxy Notes make smartphones a much more viable option as a laptop replacement. These smartphones have a larger screen than average, and you can write on the screen with a stylus, meaning that they are useful for those whose work sees them on the go each day.
Smartphones Can’t Do Everything; Yet
Newer model smartphones can definitely do a lot, but they still cannot do everything that a laptop or desktop can do. Many people require laptops for specific functions and cannot migrate fully to smartphones as their primary device.
For example, while smartphones can play many games and mobile gaming is growing with the power of 5G, they cannot yet offer the majority of hardware-intensive offerings. Most gamers will stick with their gaming laptops or desktops over smartphones, for the time being, depending on the circumstance.
Then, there are still many, many programs and functions that are still just beyond the capability of smartphones. For example, you cannot perform a complex task such as video editing or software development on a smartphone. Smartphones are getting more powerful, but not enough to run many programs that laptop users need daily. Again these are yets that will most likely be achieved.
“An estimated 4.3 billion smartphones were in use globally at the end of 2017 — three times the number of PCs. The smartphone-using population is expected to keep growing 9 percent per year and hit 7.2 billion by 2023.”Samsung Insights – Your phone is now more powerful than your PC
As smartphones grow increasingly powerful, the percentage of people using them as their primary device also increases. That being said, there will always possibly be things to do that require a laptop with a larger screen and keyboard for mobility, say when you are sitting in an airport for hours and people who just prefer using laptops over smartphones.
Who knows, with the exponential growth of AI and technology, you may be just thinking that letter or message as it dictates and types in your mind?
- Broadband Search: Mobile vs. Desktop Internet Usage (Latest 2021 Data)
- Technologer: Why Smartphones are Such a Popular Tool
- Best Life Online: 20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Smartphone Could Do
- Previous Ericsson Mobility Reports