The modern smartphone has become the tech industry’s black hole, absorbing digital music players, point-and-shoot cameras and even many tablets along the way. Aside from the iPad and a handful of budget tablets like Amazon’s Fire HD series, most standalone tablet have largely been subsumed by big-screen phones. And many thought laptops would be the next device to be sucked into the smartphone black hole. However, the laptop is far from dead. How have they survived? While not completely unscathed by the smartphone takeover, laptop manufacturers have been able to persist by embracing mobile phone features into their hardware.
One of the most obvious changes that we’ve seen in laptops are that they now think like smartphones. They’re beginning to ditch the traditional Intel processors in favor for Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. Previously, laptops with lower-end processors have been tried and met with limited success. The reason behind their current success is due to the fact that they tout some promising high-end features, including always-on LTE connectivity (like that of a smartphone) and an average of 20+ hours of battery life with weeks of standby time, which also sounds more in-line with mobile phone features than most PCs.
Another take on the phone-laptop convergence can be seen with Razer’s Project Linda laptop revealed during CES 2018. The 13-inch laptop shell has a large cutout where a touchpad would normally sit. Instead, users will drop a Razer Phone in to the slot, press a button, and have the two devices working in tandem where the laptop will work as a high-functioning dock for the phone.
Razer isn’t alone in the phone-laptop innovation. Palm Foleo, the Motorola Atrix 4G and the more recent Asus Padfone X were all based on a similar “add a laptop shell to your phone” idea. But viewed through the prism of the Snapdragon laptops from Lenovo, HP and Asus, the end result is surprisingly similar, and something we may see much more of in the near future — a laptop-like experience, but powered by a phone brain.