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Smartphone tech is influencing consumer laptop wants

New report highlights importance of always on, always connected and all-day battery life

Woman using laptop

There’s no one-size-fits all laptop solution for consumers and employers. Indeed, after surveying thousands of US consumers, an Arm-commissioned report by technology market research firm Creative Strategies shows a wide variety of desired form factors, features and experiences from the next generation of laptops.

However, there’s one thing we can all agree on – the profound impact that the smartphone revolution has had on the laptop market. While reports of the death of the laptop form factor have been grossly exaggerated, there’s no denying that consumers now expect their laptop experience to keep up with their other mobile devices: always on, always connected and capable of all-day battery life.

In short, a far cry from the traditional definition of a laptop – slow to boot yet quick to run out of juice.

Read the full report to discover more on how consumer laptop needs are changing.

Battery life is the biggest laptop pain point

The report shows that longer battery life remains the biggest pain point and most desired feature on laptops for consumers. Nearly 60 percent say that longer battery life would be the most important feature of the next laptop they buy. The result is even higher (67 percent) when only focusing on the data just from employees and students. This is not surprising given that both these user groups are more likely to be ‘on-the-go’ and not close to a charging point. Moving between lectures and meetings or travelling for work.

Interestingly, according to the report, consumers are even willing to make a performance trade-off for longer battery life on laptops. This finding could give OEMs confidence to develop laptop hardware and source components that are even more efficient. Moreover, based on the fact that consumers spend most of their time using basic productivity and communication software such as email and office applications, it seems that users could be looking for machines that deliver smarter performance while also providing the improved efficiency for longer battery life.

Opportunities for ‘always connected’ laptops

Even though being ‘always connected’ was not a top demand from consumers, around 23 percent did note this as a top three feature for their next laptop. This perhaps highlights the market potential of ‘always connected’ laptops, as only six percent claim to have one. In addition, when you factor in that 45 percent are concerned about how secure different Wi-Fi connections are, the value proposition for ‘always connected’ laptops grows even larger.

Alongside the security concerns, public Wi-Fi will often require registration, representing extra hassle and complexity – in some instances users had to wait up to ten minutes before fully connecting to the network. In other cases, that hassle comes in the form of additional cost – many hotspots still charge for access.

Consumers want ‘instant-on’ laptops

When exploring the smartphone features that consumers want on their laptops, ‘instant-on’ was in the top three most in demand at 29 percent (unsurprisingly behind longer battery life). ‘Instant-on’ is a feature that has been heavily influenced by consumer expectations following smartphone use. Just like their smartphone devices, consumers expect laptops to be ready to use instantly, even when they have been idle for some time.

Going beyond instant-on, it might be interesting to assess consumer demand for laptops that are able to perform background tasks such as downloading emails and synchronizing cloud-hosted documents while the lid is closed. This feature is expected in smartphones and could save consumers time when they are ‘on-the-go’.

Consumers now expect their laptop experience to keep up with their other mobile devices.

Still a market for laptops

Despite smartphones arguably overtaking desktop PCs and laptops as many people’s primary computing device, it is clear from the report that laptops remain a hugely important consumer device. An overwhelming percentage of consumers would still prefer to work on a document (84 percent) or use email (66 percent) on their laptop device over their smartphone.

Moreover, despite the larger screen size of today’s modern smartphones, a significant number (45 percent) of consumers still prefer watching videos on a laptop. It is clear that the smartphone is not the only device that consumers want to use, with the big screens of laptops proving to be a better experience for productivity tasks and entertainment.

The laptop experience is evolving

Laptop innovation is not slowing down as consumers look for an experience that matches – and even improves upon – what their smartphone can offer. This means that features such as longer battery life, ‘always connected’ and instant-on are moving to a laptop form factor.

Refreshingly, it seems that OEMs and vendors are taking notice of what consumers want and building these features into laptop devices in order to improve the overall user experience.

Arm’s take on the report

It is great to see longer battery life and ‘always on, always connected’ being stand-out features that consumers want from their laptops. These features are at the heart of the latest Windows 10 2-in-1 laptop devices from HP, Asus and Lenovo, which use Snapdragon 835 and 850 SoCs based on Arm Cortex processor technology. In particular, the 20-plus hours of battery life on Windows on Arm laptops is a standout feature.

In the future, it will be interesting to see how the next generation of laptops adopt new and emerging technologies that contribute towards the longer battery life and ‘always on, always connected’ features. For example, some Arm-based laptop devices are already adopting face ID to reduce wake up times from idle.

Overall, the report reinforces that despite smartphone proliferation, the laptop is still a vital piece of the consumer compute puzzle. However, consumers now look for similar user experiences to their smartphones. Our CPU roadmap illustrates Arm’s commitment to the market, with a compute performance trajectory that will enable better user experiences for future laptop devices. Our aim is to help provide consumers with the laptop experiences that they want now and in the future.

Read the full report to discover more on how consumer laptop needs are changing.

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