Does an iPhone Make You Less Productive?


January 8, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man



The slick iPhone with its glass face and its touchscreen capability was the answer to all of our productivity prayers, right? I won’t argue, iPhones do have a lot of functionality but is it really making you more productive or is it just giving you more stuff to look at and more diversions to play with?

Loads of people are still getting by with their busted-up BlackBerries. Despite having half-dead trackwheels and scratched-up screens, these people are still mightily chugging along. Should they succumb to the lure of the iPhone?

Let’s look at a few reasons why an iPhone may undermine your productivity instead of help it.

  • App overload
    Applications are those magic pieces to the puzzle that make the iPhone special. With the right applications, you can find the right restaurant for dinner, you can figure out the tune that’s playing on the radio or find your directions when you are lost. But there are useful apps and tidal waves of time-killers. What was the big news about iPhone applications of late? Not a breakthrough in scheduling or a great to-do list, but an application that makes bodily function sounds.

The abundance and ease of loading of these apps, which is part of the appeal of the iPhone, opens the door too easily to torpedoing your productivity.

  • Games, games, games
    The second prong of the application trap is the abundance of games. If you are using your smartphone in the place of a Nintendo DS, then the iPhone’s games are for you. But, if you are using your phone to keep you connected to the office, then you don’t need a great motocross game, you need editable documents and spreadsheets. 
  • Pocketbook drain
    Hand-in-hand with productivity is financial discipline. There’s nothing to sink an effective work-life balance like a busted budget. Buying a bevy of applications – 99 cents here, $4.99 there – on a whim, can tear a hole in anyone’s budget. Too many apps can add up in a hurry. 
  • It’s not Google
    The iPhone is the fancy new car in last year’s showroom, but what about the Google Android, which is still in its infancy, and ready to grow the branches. If you’ve become more productive thanks to the cloud computing offered by Google Documents, Calendar or Gmail, then it may be worth waiting to see what Android looks like when it grows up. 
  • Fumbling around
    Let’s face it, touch screens aren’t for everyone. Writing up an e-mail should be easy. The surety offered by a BlackBerry’s buttons – especially on its new Bold – makes it quick to send an e-mail and keeps the frustration out that comes with misfingered buttons.

Now if you are an Apple enthusiast, it’s understandable that the iPhone was in your pocket as soon as it went on sale. But have you gotten used it as a phone, a media player or just a toy?


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