Cell references make calculating formulas extremely useful. It is one of the most basic ways of calculation, other than simply typing in numbers. However, it offers a great benefit. When cell references are used, and those cells are changed, the calculations are automatically updated. This is a blessing and is very useful.
Why does it matter? It is the same Total. Although you are not wrong, there is something inherently missing. If I change the values in the cells, I would have to recalculate the basic math version while Excel automatically does that with cell references. It is more work on my side.
It doesn’t matter what the formula is or how it looks, unless it is in a cell reference format, Excel will not recalculate it.
I can continue to provide examples. This shows that unless the user is familiar with cell references, it would be incredibly difficult to use large workbooks. Having to recalculate everything every time it changes would take an incredible amount of time.