Android iPhone and iPad Productivity

The 5 Best Apps to Help You Fight Your Smartphone Addiction

James Frew Updated 30-01-2019

If you find yourself reaching for your smartphone more than you’d like, you’re not alone. Many of us, caught up in the whirlwind of technological progress, have found ourselves wasting away countless hours each day on our phones. Your addiction may even be causing you to commit all kinds of smartphone etiquette mistakes.


Although it might be weird to say, the best solution, strangely, may be an app. So, here are five of the best apps to help you fight back against reflective smartphone usage.

1. Your Smartphone’s Built-In Tools

Both Apple and Google have incorporated wellbeing features What's Google Up To? 9 New Google Apps and Tools You Need to Know About It's difficult to keep track of new stuff from Google. So take a look at these new Google apps, tools, and updates. Read More into their operating systems to help you monitor your usage.

Apple integrated their tool, Screen Time, into iOS 12 and it can be found in your device’s settings. Google’s Digital Wellbeing feature initially debuted as a beta app, but following the release of Android 9.0 Pie, is now a part of the operating system.

Digital Wellbeing is supported on all Google Pixel phones and is available on most devices running Android 9.


Both features allow you to monitor your screen time, broken down by app, and set timers for individual apps. Google’s Digital Wellbeing also includes the blue light filtering Night Light, a grayscale option This Smartphone Trick Could Actually Curb Your Addiction If you're looking at your smartphone too much, setting the display to grayscale can help make it less interesting. Here's how to enable a black and white screen on Android and iOS. Read More , and the number of unlocks for that day.

For their part, Apple has introduced Downtime, where you can only use apps you have expressly excluded from restriction.

2. Forest

Forest App Website Screenshot

If you struggle to take breaks from your phone, even when you need focus elsewhere, you may find yourself drawn to Forest. It’s one of those iPhone apps that justify their price.

This deceptively simple app gamifies the challenge. If you need to concentrate on a task, open Forest and plant a seed. The longer you leave your phone, the larger the resulting tree will be. If you can’t resist the urge, the tree will wither and die.

There is also a Firefox add-on based on a custom blacklist, rather than on screen time. If the responsibility of maintaining a virtual tree doesn’t quite do it for you, Forest has an additional trick up its sleeve. For every virtual tree you grow, you earn coins. Those coins can be spent on planting real trees through Forest’s charity partner, Trees for the Future.

Download: Forest for Android| Firefox | iOS ($2)

For more tools like Forest, check out these Android apps that help you focus Avoid Distractions With 8 Android Apps That Help You Focus Overcoming constant distractions is one of the keys to better work. Maximize your focus with these excellent Android apps today. Read More .

3. Headspace

Often we find ourselves lost in a YouTube rabbit hole, or endlessly scrolling our social feeds. Before you know it, hours have passed by.

Cultivating awareness of our decisions and thoughts may help us out the next time we get stuck in a hole. Headspace, a guided meditation app, may be the solution. Co-created by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, Headspace is filled with guided meditations and courses related to specific activities or emotions.

The benefit of regular meditation is a greater sense of mindfulness and awareness. If you still feel in need of a repeated nudge, you can set up Mindful Moments to notify you throughout the day.

Headspace is a subscription-based app, with almost all sessions behind the paywall. However, it is far from the only choice, as there are many mobile meditation apps 6 Mindful Meditation Apps That Will Improve Your Life Living a more mindful live through meditation can have amazing positive effects. Give it a try with these apps. Read More that will help you improve your life.

Download: Headspace for Android | iOS (Subscriptions from $12.99/month)

4. Space

Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing are stepping in the right direction towards reducing phone usage. However, these features don’t give the full picture of your habit.

The app Space takes a more thorough approach to lower your phone usage. Based on how you use your phone, Space categorizes you as one of four types of phone user. This is used to personalize the recommendations and targets you set.

The main features are similar to your phone’s built-in options, but Space also makes it simple to take full control of your phone. For example, just one tap is all it takes to disable your phone’s notifications.

According to Space’s research, their users spend an average of 2 hours and 46 minutes on their phones compared to the US average of 4 hours and 16 minutes. The app is free for all users, but certain features can be unlocked by upgrading to Space Pro.

Download: Space for Android | Chrome | iOS (Free, Pro from $8.99/three months)

5. RescueTime

Screenshot of the RescueTime website highlighting features

Although our phones are always with us, they aren’t the only way we distract ourselves throughout the day. RescueTime is a cross-platform time tracking app, available for Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

The highlight here is that the way you spend your time is monitored automatically, so you get a realistic picture of your day. You can set goals, and then alarms for when you’ve spent too long on any one site or app.

Each day generates a detailed report for time spent, productivity, and whether you achieved your goals. RescueTime Premium allows you to block distracting websites, track your offline activity, add customizable notifications, and keep a daily highlights journal.

Download: RescueTime for Android, Linux, macOS, Windows (Free, Premium from $9/month)

How Will You Manage Your Smartphone Addiction?

At times, it can seem as though smartphones are ruining your life. It’s all too easy surrender to the attention economy and get caught up in our phones, drawn away from the real world. But with these five apps by your side, you’ll be equipped to be a more mindful smartphone user. Of course, switching to a dumb phone is also an option, but keep in mind that when it comes to security, smartphones have an edge over dumb phones.

Need more help with your smartphone addiction? Here’s how one of our authors cut their smartphone usage in half How I Cut My Smartphone Usage in Half: 8 Changes That Worked Want to reduce smartphone usage, but don't know where to start? Here are practical steps I took to stop using my phone so much. Read More . And if you use Android, check out how to hide and restrict Android apps 4 Methods to Hide and Restrict Apps on Android Want to hide apps on your Android phone to keep them private or restrict your child's usage of Android apps? Here's how. Read More to help with the temptation.

Related topics: Addiction, Cool Web Apps, Habits, Productivity Tricks.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Ajay Thakur
    June 1, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    just for information, freedom is not for android phones

  2. Rajan Chopra
    March 4, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Is there any app which only allows you to use your phone for only a particular time period, say 3 hours in a day?

  3. Anonymous
    March 24, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Thanks for the apps,will be very helpful when doing college assignment .will defiantly try out Forest. :)

    • Justin Pot
      March 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Let us know how it works! Just not while doing your assignment, because then we'll be the distraction and that's no good.

  4. dddededdededede
    March 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

    i leave my phone in the drawer.

    • Justin Pot
      March 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Not a bad strategy!

    • Bertel King
      March 25, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      Low-tech solution for the win.

      • Justin Pot
        March 25, 2016 at 3:46 pm

        Yeah, it's been than everything I outlined here tbh