Replacing Your PC With Your Smartphone Is Amazing, Here’s Why

Many of us have long dreamed of having one device that could do all the things. That is now possible. Smartphones have become powerful enough to replace most of our PCs, and the experience is, surprisingly, pretty stellar. Here’s why you should give it a try.



Your PC Is Now Always On You

Your laptop is portable, but you don’t take it everywhere. It’s too bulky and needs a messenger bag or backpack. A desktop PC is even more restrictive since it’s chained to a single room in your home or office. By contrast, your phone is virtually always on you.

This means that when someone asks you, “Hey, can you send me that spreadsheet we worked on?” or “Do you have a copy of that PDF?” you don’t have to run off or wait until later to check. If you have a copy, it’s all right there in your pocket.

To use your phone as a desktop, you need a device that offers a desktop mode. Samsung Dex is the most well-known implementation, and it comes with any high-end Samsung phone or tablet. Motorola has started offering a full-featured desktop on its high-end models as well. Outside the US, you can also look to Huawei phones as another option.

Unfortunately, a polished desktop mode is not yet part of stock Android, and you won’t find it on any Pixel devices.

You No Longer Have to Move Files Around

A view of desktop mode on the Motorola Edge+ 2023
Bertel King / How-To Geek

Okay, you don’t need to have your computer on you to access your files at any time. There are such things as cloud storage, file syncing, and keeping your files on a thumb drive. All of these have their pros and cons. Each is a faff in its own way.

It’s hard to overstate how nice it feels not to have to bother with any of that anymore. Whether you’re using your phone as a phone, you’re docked into a monitor, you’re connected to a TV, or you’ve connected your phone to a lapdock, you always have your files. Of course, with all your data centralized on one device, this means it’s even more important that you keep regular backups of your data.

Mobile Devices Have Less Lag

We have a greater tolerance for lag on our desktops than on our phones. Many of us grew up with slow PCs, but we expect our phones to open the dialer, send messages, and launch apps instantly. We also need our batteries to last throughout the day. As a result, apps have been optimized to launch quickly and use fewer resources.

Android’s optimizations carry over when you connect your phone to a bigger screen. That’s not to say that you will never experience lag. Once your phone starts to overheat, such as during a Zoom call, things can still fall apart. Yet most of the time, your Android desktop is remarkably zippy. Apps launch on your desktop just as quickly as they do on your phone.

It’s Easier to Share With and Connect to Other Devices

Casting screen.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Smartphones have become the de facto way we control just about everything else. Need to remote start your car? Adjust the thermostat? Skip the current track or play another video? Whatever you’re trying to connect to, it’s increasingly easier to do so from a phone than a PC.

This is also the case when it comes to getting files from your device to someone else’s. Most Android apps utilize a “share” button that most other apps integrate with. It’s incredibly easy to send a photo from your phone gallery to a contact via text, email, NFC, social media, or any other method of your choice. Moving files around from a desktop tends to be less intuitive and takes far more clicks.

You Have Fewer Devices to Upgrade

Tech has made its way into ever more form factors. We now have smartwatches, tablets, and e-readers, in addition to all the various smart appliances and smart home luxuries. Each device has an expected end-of-life. Consolidating as much of your computing as you can to a single device reduces how much hardware you have to replace.

If your phone is your PC, and it’s your tablet, and it’s your smart TV, then upgrading your phone every few years (which you’re already going to do anyway) also upgrades everything else.

You Can Use Your Existing Hardware for Longer

An Android phone docked next to a curved monitor.
Bertel King / How-To Geek

A smartphone on its own cannot replace your PC, at least not comfortably. For a desktop-like experience, you need a monitor, a dock, a keyboard, and a mouse. You need a lapdock or a good portable monitor if you want to replace a laptop. Yet once you’ve made these investments, you can keep the hardware until it falls apart or you grow tired of it. You don’t have to throw out your screen and your keyboard just because you want a faster CPU, as you do when you use a laptop (unless you own a Framework, that is).

The advantage of this modularity has long been a perk of desktop PCs over laptops, but it’s now something you can enjoy on mobile devices, to an extent, by going all-in on using Android as your desktop.

Your Phone Has a Better Webcam

Webcams have long been a weak point on laptops. Even after a global pandemic that resulted in millions of people working remotely, laptop manufacturers still pack low-resolution, poor-quality cameras into their machines.

In contrast, smartphone makers treat front-facing selfie cameras as a way to distinguish their phones from the competition’s. This camera has more megapixels and likely better image quality than that of not only your laptop, but a dedicated PC webcam as well. You could also choose to use the even better rear camera as a webcam.

A Docked Phone Is Also a Great TV and Game Console

An 8BitDo Bluetooth controller and Android phone connected to a portable monitor
Bertel King / How-To Geek

Once you’ve invested in making a smartphone serve as your PC, you’re not that far removed from also using the same device as a TV or a game console. A dock capable of connecting your phone to a monitor can also connect it to a TV.

An interface like Motorola Connect will give you the option to launch video apps rather than boot up a desktop when you connect to a TV. Likewise, you can open games instead and enjoy them from your couch while using a Bluetooth controller. Samsung phones will boot up a desktop even if connected to a TV, but you can still easily launch video apps and games from across the room using your phone.

In the Long Run, You Save Money

Sure, running out to buy a compatible phone, a dock, and the necessary accessories costs extra money if you already have a working PC. Think about the future instead. When the time comes to get a new phone, make sure it has a desktop mode. When your laptop is ready to kick the bucket, get a lapdock.

With the various cloud gaming subscriptions available for Android, you don’t need a console or a beefy gaming rig, either. Replace your desktop tower with a phone dock. Then, down the road, you find you no longer have to spend money buying new computers, and you’ve abandoned the console upgrade cycle. Those are major expenses you’ve cut from your life, and you may walk away feeling you’ve gained more than you’ve lost.

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