Are Laptops Heading Toward Obsolescence? Smartphones Hope So

LaNada Peppers uses her Samsung Galaxy Note 5 for nearly everything. As a journalist and communications manager, the 35-year-old relies on her smartphone to take photos, update social media, write stories, book interviews, capture video and send emails. When she needs to type fast, she connects a portable keyboard. If she needs to edit audio, an app does the job.

"Essentially, I live on this thing and don't know what I would do without it," she said.

Yet she still lugs around a laptop for things her phone can't do as well: editing photos and video and storing and backing up files.

That gap could close Tuesday when Samsung's fierce rival Apple unveils its newest iPhone. After spending past iterations increasing the size of the phone, improving its screen, honing its camera and, as of last year, getting rid of the analog headphone jack, design leaks suggest that the new phone's main selling point, aside from being sleeker and shinier than iPhones past, will be the breadth of its capabilities.

"That's going to be the next big battleground," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "The next big horizon is doing more with your smartphone than just checking Facebook and email. It's about allowing us to do what we've been doing with our desktop PCs for the last 25 years, but in a smaller form factor."

Among the rumored features are an edge-to-edge OLED screen that does away with the home button and bezel (the half-inch strips that frame the top and bottom of the screen), augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities, more storage and faster processing.

"When you remove some of the visual distractions from the front screen of the phone, it makes it more conducive to being used like a multimedia device," Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing at...

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