Speaking to Wired back in 2015, Kantar Worldwide’s chief researcher, Carolina Milanesi said the following: “Will we always need a desktop? No, not all of us will. Some of us already don’t.” And he was right. Many of us can make do with everyday tasks like reading the news, listening to music, watching Netflix, playing at the best kiwi casinos, but more “sensitive” things like paying the bills and shopping online with nothing but a smartphone. And the rest of us who still need a large screen and a full-size desktop to type, work with spreadsheets, touch up a picture a bit (nothing too professional, of course) and such can also make do with a phone attached to a keyboard, a mouse, and a large screen. Smartphones have caught up with the desktop computer needed by the average user. While there are still many things that require a much more powerful hardware – I don’t see designers render 3D animations, for example, on a smartphone anytime soon – the desktop PC might soon become completely obsolete, being replaced by a smartphone and a gaming console.
Today, smartphone hardware is pretty fast. Just take a look at one of last year’s mid-range phones from Samsung, the Galaxy A5 (2017), for example. It has an energy-efficient Exynos 7880 octa-core CPU running at 1.9GHz, a decent built-in GPU, 3GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage, more than enough considering today’s fast internet and cheap cloud storage. This setup beats the hardware I used to work on at my last job, and that was more than enough for pretty much anything work – and fun – has thrown at me, except maybe for GPU-intensive gaming (and this is where gaming consoles come in).
Smartphones – all of them – have not yet become the only computers we need because of their screen size. But many of them have the possibility to overcome this shortcoming. Many of them are equipped with technologies that can handle video output on a large screen. Most of them will work fine with keyboards and mice attached. And there are apps – launchers of sorts – that can transform their standard interface into one that’s similar to an actual desktop PC – like Sentio Desktop, for example. And let’s not forget about Samsung’s DeX and Huawei’s built-in PC Mode on the Mate 10 Pro, revealed late last year, the spiritual successors of Microsoft Continuum meant to break down the barrier between desktop and pocket computing.
Smartphones will become our only computers sooner than you imagine. We will be able to use them as we normally do on the go and connect them to a screen, a keyboard and a mouse at home or at the office to use them to get things done. We will be able to use them as media players, as gaming consoles, as workstations, even as laptops thanks to products like Sentio’s “Superbook” laptop shell that’s both useful and affordable.