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Why smartphone technology won't ever replace PCs

Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, smartphone technology has become so advanced that the devices really are mini computers. But that doesn’t mean they’ll replace actual PCs.

Innovations to smartphone technology over the years include more powerful batteries and processors and larger displays with better resolution. But smartphones will never replace PCs because the size of a laptop always allows for better internal specs than the latest and greatest smartphone, including in the areas of storage, processing power and batteries. Additionally, the larger form factor of a PC makes it more ideal for completing certain demanding tasks.

Erik Lightbody, assistant director of technical services at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., uses a laptop, a desktop PC, a smartphone and an iPad throughout a typical day.

“I use each for different things … but I’ll use my laptop or desktop PC for more complicated tasks,” he said.

The Apple iPhone 7 has the company’s A10 processor, while MacBooks have dual-core or quad-core Intel processors. Both Intel and Apple make very powerful processors but the MacBook gets the advantage because it can fit multiple processors inside the casing. When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 7 has 1,960 milliamp hour (mAh) of capacity, and any MacBook has more than 4,000 mAh. The iPhone 7 maxes out at 256 GB of storage, and the MacBook Pro maxes out at 512 GB.

Obviously, smartphone technology today is very impressive, too; I can stream music, check my email and respond to texts from my iPhone while updating all my apps in the background. My Power Macintosh G3 from 1999 struggled to run multiple applications at once. But simply because of the form factor, there are still certain tasks I would rather do on that old Mac than a new iPhone 7, such as working with spreadsheets or building a presentation.

Lightbody agreed.

“If I do spreadsheet work, I won’t do it on my phone,” he said. “I’ll use my office laptop. I could do it on my phone, but it’s not a good experience.”

Smartphones are great if you want to quickly check email, schedule an appointment in the calendar app, approve a memo or check a travel itinerary, for example. But to get real work done that requires word processing, working with Excel or doing graphics design in Adobe Photoshop, for instance, the screen size, keyboard and mouse on a PC go a long way in making you more productive.

That will never change, because no one wants a smartphone the size of a laptop.

Unified Communications