5 Reasons Why Smartphones And Tablets Won’t Replace PCs (Yet)

Because of CES mobile technologies there’s a whole bunch of articles surfacing "IT’S THE END OF THE PC (AND MAC)!" Um, no. There are many reasons why smartphones and tablets won’t replace desktop computers. Very little of this list has to do with functionality and everything with the human factor.

1. Limited multitask ability

Smart mobile devices have screens from roughly 4.3-inch to 10-inch. Readability on these screens isn’t an issue, but multitasking is. People obviously like computers that can do more than one thing at a time, and while smart mobile devices do have the ability to multitask, it’s way too basic to be a desktop replacement.

2. Unstable

Any, repeat, any smart device crashes more than Windows 95 ever did. It is routine that an app will crash, forcing you to reset and launch again – and it is amazing that smart device users don’t complain about this more.

Put another way: If your desktop apps crashed as much as smartphone apps did, you’d go back to pen and paper.

3. Touchscreen typing sucks

As a pointing device, touch rules the school, but as a typing device it’s the worst you could possibly use. Firstly, from an ergonomic point of view, your wrists will cramp up so fast from typing on a tablet it’s not funny. Secondly, there is no tactile feel forcing you to do the exact opposite of what you’ve been taught when typing (you’re not supposed to look at the ‘keys’, remember?). Third, it is way too easy to make mistakes.

The only cure for touchscreen typing is to not do it and use voice recognition translated into written word instead. This does exist currently, but it still has a long way to go on smart devices.

If you’re wondering, yes, Dragon Naturally Speaking (arguably the best voice-to-text that exists) does exist for mobile, and the one you would most likely want is Dragon Dictation. However bear in mind you probably will end up with problems mentioned in #2 above.

4. Archiving? What archiving?

Think fast: How do you archive your emails off a smartphone? Oh, that’s right, you don’t. You’ll have to go to a PC or Mac to do that because it can, y’know, actually download copies of emails and store them somewhere aside from the cloud.

Storing stuff to the cloud isn’t the solution. If it’s your content and you can’t download a local copy of the whatever-it-is, that’s just dumb.

"But I can push X’s data to an SD card." If you can do that, good for you. Do all smart devices do that? No. But all desktop computers can, in multiple ways (hard drive, DVD, USB stick, etc.)

5. Everything is slow. Everything.

You’ve got your shiny new tablet, and being the smart sir or ma’am you are, you connect to the internet using your existing wi-fi. Then you notice pages render really slowly. "How can this be?", you ask yourself. "My desktop is way faster than this. Heck, my netbook even does a better job." Ah, yes, that’s because your tablet’s mobile processor is bogged down on purpose to extend battery life as much as possible – which happens to be used a lot when rendering web pages.

So much for your fast internet on a tablet. And it’s not going to get better any time soon, because mobile web is Web 1.0 all over again, has been for years and hasn’t gotten any better (hence the reason ‘mobile’ web pages still exist).

"Comparing a smartphone’s way of web browsing to a desktop computer is an unfair comparison."

Not in this context it isn’t. Everybody keeps saying that smart mobile devices are going to replace the PC and Mac, right? Right. Then show me it can. If the smart device cannot deliver the same web content I can get on my PC in the same way at the same speed, how am I supposed to take the "this is the desktop replacement" statement seriously? Answer: I can’t, and neither can you.

We can ask the same question as to whether smartphones/tablets will replace desktop computers in 2015, but not now, because at present there’s no way they can do it.

And don’t give me that "The smart device is the perfect computer for grandma who just checks email and…." OH, SHUT UP. Grandma is not the audience smart devices are primarily made for and never was.


  1. We’re on the same level, me and you, in that we’re both considered the new “old school”. We see PCs as, well, PCs. I don’t even own a smartphone or tablet. But, I think for the next generation the smartphone IS more important than a PC. They care more about receiving emails, searching the internet, using social media, listening to music, and playing time killing games. All of which smartphones and tablets are “good enough” at. The rest of the stuff is window dressing.

    That being said, PCs aren’t going anywhere, as they’re still needed for business purposes. Yet. But it seems to me they’re fading from the home landscape.

    • Well, running a business on tablets is like trying to run a trucking operation with a fleet of Toyota Priuses. For business, the tablet just doesn’t cut it.

      For home use however, tablets still don’t fit the bill. The best example of this is printing a photo. Sure, you can take the photo and send the photo anywhere – except to paper. Even Apple with their own iPad states verbatim that if you want to print, use a Mac. And if you dared try to print from an iPad, the bullsh*t involved with doing that is ridiculous.

      • That’s a good point. But I don’t see people lining up deciding computer vs tablet on whether it can print a photo.

        Actually, I think your average person isn’t even printing photos these days. They’re either keeping them on the device, or posting them somewhere (FaceBook, PhotoBucket, et al).

  2. How are you supposed to work on documents and real productive stuff on a small touch screen with no real input devices? Touch screens are fine for graphical interdaces but they make horrendous keyboards. You can’t also type nearly as fast on a touch screen as you would on a real keyboard. In addition to the lack of tactile feedback, there is no physical barrier (such as the gap between keys) between keys that would allow you to type without looking at the keys.

  3. Got a big laugh (sincerely) out of the Grandma comment. You are so right; smartphones were not meant for Grandma (unless she is still in the work force). I’m one and have absolutely no use for one from a practical standpoint. But, I would love to have one to play with–too practical, though. I will be waiting for that perfect Windows tablet without a fee to make phone calls.

  4. There are many valid reasons why desktop computers are not obsolete yet. Smart phones and tablets have limited multitasking ability and smaller touch screen size whereas computers can do unlimited tasks at a time with bigger screens.

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