I'm wondering why majority of the mockups available online utilize Smart Object layer for containing a placeholder image rather than a Frame?
It just feels like frames are easier to work with, am I missing something?
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Frames are a new feature and weren't available for many years before.
:) This is why you also will find older tutorials relying on stroking paths with a brush, rather than using the stroke options for vector paths, or clone stamping rather than using the content aware tools.
In addition, what you find easier for your workflow may not fit for the workflow others use. Just use what works for you. That's all tutorials essentially do - explain what works for that author.
I would also point out that there is very different functionality between frames and smart objects. Frames essentially create a layer mask easily. That's all. Frames don't care what the layer contains. Smart Objects reference/retain the original resolution of a placed image or group of layers. You can have a Frame applied to a Smart Object Layer. It's not "one or the other" so to speak. Frames are more a substitute for Layer Masks, not Smart Objects.
It's kind of like watching a film set in the 1800s and asking why everyone is using horses when cars are so much better. Horses are still used today because they are still better for some tasks.