7 Ways iPhone CANNOT Replace Your Home Computer

In his post on eWeek titled The iPhone Has Replaced My Home PC, Cameron Sturdevant writes:

Will a generation that has grown up with high-powered smartphones but is confronted with either unemployment or low-wage jobs make a choice between a smartphone with a healthy dose of data plan and cable/DSL-based broadband Internet access?

Cameron claims that he would abandon his PC in favor of his iPhone except for one thing: “Netflix. I am completely addicted to the ‘watch instantly’ feature that allows me to view a movie on-demand.” Is that all?

Yes, the iPhone can replace your home computer for plenty of tasks like email, browsing and multimedia, but there are some things you still need a computer for.

Here are 7 things your computer can do that your iPhone can’t:

  1. Word processing. Yes, you could type out long documents on your iPhone’s touchscreen keypad, but you would sure lose a lot of time.
  2. Copy & paste. Besides a few primitive workarounds, you can’t copy & paste on the iPhone, a much-needed feature that’s reason enough not to get rid of your computer.
  3. Open more than 8 tabs. If you’re like me, you open a lot of tabs when you’re browsing. If you’re doing research, this can be especially helpful for improving productivity. You can’t, however, open more than 8 windows in iPhone’s Safari app. Even if you could, iPhone’s Safari crashes pretty easily, so it’s not very reliable for heavy browsing.
  4. Undo. Ever hold the backspace key on your iPhone for too long, accidentally erasing a whole paragraph of text? Or have you deleted something unintentionally? Unlike your computer, the iPhone has no Undo function that provides a safety net against these kinds of mistakes.
  5. Edit multimedia. If you like to edit your photos in Photoshop, or you make movies with Final Cut, then getting rid of your home computer is a bad idea. You can’t edit multimedia on your iPhone.
  6. Render Flash & Java. Ever go looking for some info on your iPhone, only to realize the website you need is made with Flash or Java and you can’t access it on your iPhone? You need a computer (or another phone) to run Flash and Java.
  7. Support plugins & add-ons. You can enhance a lot of software to suit your needs with plugins and extensions, like iTunes plugins, Firefox Add-Ons and Greasemonkey scripts. While you can improve your iPhone in general with apps from the App Store, you can’t improve any of iPhone’s apps themselves with plugins.

Yes, the iPhone could be improved to eventually include these features, but for the time being, they are my reasons for not ditching my computer in favor of my iPhone.

What do you think?

Could you see yourself abandoning your home computer and just using your iPhone instead? Let us know in the comments why you think the iPhone could or could not replace your home computer.

2 thoughts on “7 Ways iPhone CANNOT Replace Your Home Computer”

  1. I wonder if Apple read this. I have the 3GS, and they have remedied several of these issues 🙂 But not the flash player, which I REALLY REALLY want, so I can watch Hulu shows 🙂

  2. I think the question is misguided. The iPhone is complimentary to the desktop, not a replacement.

    I can’t imagine wanting to do heavy browsing or word processing on such a tiny screen and a “hunt-n-peck” keyboard. Even if they added, say, a keyboard of some kind that could plug into the phone, can you say “eye strain”? I envision being hunched over, squinting.

    No, we should, ahem, “think different”. The two should compliment each other, not compete. I find such things as the calendar (with MobileMe sync) to be hugely useful. Try having an elderly parent with doctor appoints out the ears sometime. Being able to pull the phone out and have it on the counter as we make appointments is a life saver.

    I do agree cut-n-paste is desperately needed. I’ve had to resort a couple of times to digging for pen and paper to write down an address I found via Google or some other source so I can type it into the Maps widget. Safari does its best to recognize things and so does Google but sometimes, the address is just screwy. Not to mention, why does the iPhone think every number is a phone number? I was trying to scroll a page once and managed to dial… Mars I think.

    I’d like to see the, call it, “touch and hold” thing be a kind of “right click”. This bit about popping up a URL or such baffles me. I don’t see what’s useful about a long, complicated string like so many URLs are being popped up. Half the time not even fitting the screen and trailing off into… I dunno.


    Biggest problem I would see in the idea of “iPhone as desktop” is going The Way of Redmond. Trying to cram so much into the phone, it runs like molasses and crashes so much it makes Safari Mobile look stable (and, really, what’s up with that?).

    I think we could end up killing the usefulness of the phone by trying to make it be something it isn’t. Things like heavy duty web browsing and word processing “on the road” is, well, the domain of laptops.

    “Featuritis” is the hallmark of Microsoft. Let’s not go there…


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