How Smart Should Your Phone Be?

My luddite self has finally entered 2008 and purchased a smartphone. Something that’s held me back from being slow to adopt technology is that sense of constant attachment to the real world. I do not want to be available to co-workers and clients 24/7; I like knowing that work stuff can wait until 9 a.m. But I’m not a freelancer. My questions to you are: Can you really conduct your business on a smartphone? Is it a challenge to work on a smartphone or a relief to be free of a computer?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter all day, so forgive me if I’ve wanted to escape technology during nonwork hours. But a desire for access to maps and archived e-mails prompted me to trek down to my service provider, plunk down my flip phone and ask for an upgrade. With one eyebrow raised, the fellow behind the counter replied, “Yeah, you weren’t kidding when you said, ‘upgrade.’” But now that I possess a touchscreen phone with a bunch of bells and whistles, what do I do with all those bells and whistles?

I’ve blogged before about tools and apps that allow freelancers and others to be mobile workers. “What Tools Can You Not Live Without?” mentioned Fotografix, FileZilla Portable and ToDoList, while “Tips for Taking Your Business Portable” included Caliper, ColorExpert, OpenOffice.org Portable and 7-Zip. In theory, these applications make sense – you can work while on public transportation or on vacation without lugging around a bulky laptop. But, especially when it comes to graphic designers, can you really address detail and recognize colors on a phone screen?

In the week I’ve had my smartphone, I’ve managed to clear the homescreen of frustrating Facebook and Twitter apps, yet I can’t get the darn thing to stop beeping when an e-mail comes in; my smartphone has succeeded in making me feel dumb. There are at least 40 preloaded applications on my phone – and I’ve explored about a third of that. Am I the exception? Would I feel different if I worked out of my home or at a café?

Check in with me a few weeks, a few months, a year from now to see if I’m cruising down the touchscreen and conducting all my business on a hiking trail.

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