Article: Working From An iPhone

by on September 25, 2017

Choosing a particular device to be your primary computing device can be very rewarding once you think you’ve made the right choice. I managed to get most of my use to a 12.9″ iPad Pro. In tandem with an a current-generation Mac mini and an iPhone SE, my personal technology lineup was pretty complete. At work, I was doing most of my work off of a work-issued iPad Air 2 or my iPhone in a pinch.

Apple’s iPhone event left me wondering if I should replace my iPhone SE. While an excellent device, I was starting to wish the screen was a bit bigger and that it had some of the more modern features found on the newer iPhones (especially the camera on the 8 Plus). Deciding to wait out OLED and FaceID for my next iPhone upgrade, I started considering the 8 Plus a bit more seriously. It’s big, expensive, but has more computing power than every other device in my life and would always be on me.

Having been following Justin Blanton’s use of an iPhone, I always though it would be fascinating to have a powerful iPhone and a secondary Mac to help out, but wasn’t ready to only use an iPhone SE. I think this notion may have been somewhere in the back of my mind in the days following Apple’s event.

While my iPad worked fine, it was depreciating pretty badly and I also found myself reaching for my iPhone when I was sitting around my apartment. More often, I think the convenience factor won out. Basically, like the best camera being the one you have with you, the best computer was the one that was always with you.

I decided to sell my iPad Pro before it depreciated some more and that the buyer could make use of the remaining time on AppleCare+. I kept my iPhone SE, mostly because it makes for a great spare device and the used prices weren’t very compelling (part of the problem when the phone is priced exceptionally well new). I’m not iPad-less, at least in that I have one with my current job, but this way I reduced the number of aging devices I own by one. As much as I would’ve liked to simplify, the Mac mini isn’t going anywhere yet, but then again, with Apple’s development pace, it’s the same computer for sale today.

Obviously, you can chase the idea of always having the newest and replace your devices every year or every other year, but there’s also the aspect of how many devices you’re replacing on a regular basis. With the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, it starts to get a bit complex. Keeping devices until they’re almost unusable is an idea, but it starts to feel annoying when they fundamentally work differently (I knew if I got an iPhone X, the interface would be different enough that I’d have bad habits on the iPad or vice-versa).

There’s also the aspect that I prefer the cellular iPads, which includes an extra expense every upgrade season, not to mention the costs of accessories and wondering if AppleCare+ is a good idea on a giant lunch tray of a screen. Having replacing the iPad Pro already because of LCD light bleed led me wondering the long-term durability and I also cringed at out-of-warranty repair costs. Basically, it was a somewhat expensive proposition for fun rather than work.

So, the experiment of using my iPad Pro for most non-work things and an iPad Air for most work things turned out to be a success. That will continue at work, but I’ll be starting a new personal experiment—I want to see if I can make my primary computer my iPhone, which has sort of already happened. If I ever run into a situation where I need a bigger screen or a slightly more complex application, my Mac mini can tag in, but an iPhone 8 Plus and Bluetooth Keyboard has become a rather compelling and portable writing/coding/SSH machine.

So far, I’ve written this entire post with just my iPhone in landscape and a Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard and other than no Command+Tab support on the iPhones and iOS 11’s Smart Punctuation casting some trouble, I really haven’t had any issues. The faux-iPad landscape mode in some apps has come in handy for a few document-related functions, and when I’m done, I can fold the cover on my keyboard and put my phone in my pocket.

This is going to be fun.

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