Are Smartphones Completely Replacing Laptops?


Smartphones are certainly popular devices and as new models are released more and more often, the features and accessories are definitely what sells the phone. While desktop computers will most likely stay useful in business for some time, it’s becoming more commonplace for people to rely on their smartphone for all of their internet needs, many having stopped purchasing and upgrading their laptops. How exactly can the smartphone replace laptops as we know them?

As far as their physical features, besides the big screen and keyboard, there‘s not much physically that a laptop offers, that a smartphonecannot. In fact, the smallest laptops and the largest smartphones are very close in size. Laptops can read and write DVDs and CDs, but won’t they be obsolete soon? Smartphones don’t read USBs yet, but they can store memory on mini SD cards. Meanwhile, you can’t put a laptop in your pocket.

Beyond physical attributes, how do the phone and laptops differ as far as applications and tasks that we use them to accomplish?

  • Searching & Researching
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Music & Media
  • Word Processing
  • Photo Editing
  • Online Shopping & Payment

Internet Searches & Research

Nowadays, there aren’t many topics that we can’t jump on the internet and find answers to. Searching and researching is virtually identical on either device. Even saving files, links, images and text can be done on both a laptop and a smartphone. Surviving the conversion to total smartphone use is certainly easier when individuals have already adopted a paperless lifestyle. Individuals who want to print a lot of records and revisit files and findings in a physical form are going to be less likely to trade in their computer for their phone right away.


Emailing is also basically the same from a smartphone or a laptop. Like many things, security remains a big concern, especially with emails of a sensitive nature. For this reason, there are certainly industries where emailing from a smartphone in regards to work is not allowed, due to the need for a secure server. Hacking is hardly a concern for those emailing the grandkids with photos of their vacation in Florida.

While a lot of laptop fans might say that emailing from their phone is too different, too hard or too small, most of this can be attributed to unfamiliarity. There was a time their laptop was foreign as well. It’s likely their discomfort would pass in time, if they were to force themselves to use a smartphone instead. Those who see the conveniences others around them are enjoying eventually take that route.

Social Media

Social media might be the place where the transition to smart phones is seen the most. The second-by-second updating of every experience, life’s highs and lows, what we had for breakfast and where we’re going next, certainly couldn’t be accomplished via laptop. Sharing photos, live video and checking in from popular locations has made the smartphone and social media basically reliant on one another. Both industries benefit from this relationship, where the laptop would not have contributed.

Music & Media

While music downloads, saving and playback can all be done on the smartphone, mixing music, producing video or new tracks are certainly more complicated and the type of things you might imagine being at a desk, with several screens and needing the size and hands-on accessibility of a laptop or even a desktop system. But the technology is there. Are there places our minds will never be able to squeeze in?

Word Processing

Obviously we can type emails and posts, even blogs can be written from smartphones. But when it comes to writing an English paper or a novel, laptops are still the norm. So much of the craze from desktops to laptops and finally to smartphones, is all about portability, being on the move and not wanting a computer to slow us down. But when studying or writing, it’s likely we’re not on the subway or walking around. So, is word processing on smartphones a capability that we even need?

The technology is there. Apps like Quick Office and Office Mobile have proven that you can type or write any number of documents the same as you would a laptop or desktop. What about the ability to type quickly? Using your smartphone means the ability to speak into the phone and it types for you. You an also use Bluetooth capable keyboards that communicate with the phone. The only thing hindering the practice from becoming mainstream, are user patience and acceptance. You can even attach or link a smartphone to a Wi-Fi printer and even print documents whenever you like.

Photo Editing

When considering photo editing software and trends, the use of a smartphone versus a laptop really depends on the level of editing you require and what the user intends to do with the completed images. High-definition photography uses quite a bit of memory, but professionals in photography are used to this and would most likely equip their smartphone with additional memory or have purchased a phone with the largest hard drive.

Obviously Adobe Photo Shop is not available in an app, but every smartphone camera has filters and adjustments that can be applied to photos taken or saved from elsewhere. Smartphone cameras are getting more and more advanced, competing with traditional larger models like Canon and Minolta.

Online Shopping & Payment

Using credit cards and accessing accounts has long been a scary thing on the internet. There are still individuals who will not login to a bank account or enter their credit card information online. There are cases of fraud, theft and issues with identities being compromised, but the truth is, these aren’t really the fault of the technology. Every industry has criminals and even when new technology emerges, new criminals are quick to acclimate. Losses reported in cases of online shopping and payments are most often due to a lack of implementing recommended safeguards. An entire industry has evolved around identity and financial safety online. Someone can just as easily be victimized over the phone or the counter. Just as it took awhile for consumers to feel safe on their desk tops and then lap tops, confidence will grow with smartphones in commerce.

The biggest consideration between the two devices is probably safety and security when it comes to important data and work materials. We’ve all heard the stories about phones being dropped in the ocean and lost in the car. Social media is full of sad tales of cracked screens and dead batteries. Will the instability of a smartphone ever be safe enough for treasured wedding photos and that 200-page best seller?

Laptops are certainly mobile and some have fallen victim to similar mishaps of spilled drinks and slippery fingers, but somehow industry became accustomed and back-ups have become popular and recommended. Perhaps someday, the smartphone will inspire confidence in the same way.

Similar to when laptops and tablets became popular, there is more concern with smartphone about privacy. Despite many assurances and safety measures that may be in place, there is still a lot of skepticism about whether information is secure when using the internet with a smartphone, when really, it’s basically the same channels as with a laptop or desk top.