It’s a running joke with my friends that I’m always on my phone — and honestly, it’s true. When my anxiety peaks, I tend to spend hours mindlessly scrolling. I set iPhone screen time limits, but they’re easy to ignore. I was intrigued when I got a sponsored ad for Opal in my Instagram feed. The company bills itself as an advanced screen time app that forces you off your phone. I was hesitant to spend money on it, and the way the company responded to some of the critical comments it received on the ad I saw gave me pause. But I’ll try anything once, so I started with a free trial.
Opal App Review
I’m pretty sure the app offers a free version, but I decided on a free trial to try out all the features. I didn’t mean to let the trial expire, but I liked the app so much after the first week that I didn’t mind paying for it. I will share how it differs from Apple’s native screen time (in my opinion), whether it works, and whether I’ll continue to pay for it.
How It Works
You can schedule downtime or start a session whenever you need it. I tend to shy away from planning time away because so much of my job is social media-related, and there are times I have to log on unexpectedly. Instead, I’ll block social media in time chunks of 30 minutes to an hour when I’m at my desk and focused on writing. You can pick the difficulty of your Opal session, too. If you choose Normal, you can take breaks and cancel a session if needed. If you decide on Timeout, there are increasing delays before taking another break. And if you pick Deep Focus, you can’t end the session early — you’re effectively locked out of the apps you select. It’s a drastic measure but sometimes necessary when you’re easily distracted.
Is It Worth It?
Like Apple’s screen time app, Opal often tracks how many times you pick up your phone. There are other similarities, which leads me to the obvious question in this Opal app review. Why pay for this when Apple (and other phone makers, I assume) offers it for free? For me, the most significant benefit is being able to lock myself out of apps. When I’m anxious, I ignore screen time warnings rather than heeding them and logging off. Deep focus mode forces me to channel my energy positively. It’s made me more productive and helped me evaluate my relationship with technology.
Will I continue paying for it? After using it for a couple months, the answer is yes. Eight dollars a month feels steep, but it’s not terrible when you consider the positive impact that it’s had on my mental health. Also, the app offers things like co-working sessions, community chats, and regular focus reports. My daily screen time is still much higher than the average person’s, but it is declining.
Is Opal worth it for you? The answer depends on how much you use your phone, in my opinion. If you already have a healthy relationship with screen time and don’t fall into doom scrolling, then it’s probably unnecessary. But for me, it’s been a worthy investment. I’ve started locking myself out of Twitter and Reddit when bad news breaks just to stop myself from the constant refreshing, and it’s been helpful. Also, I’m freeing up time to work and have made more than $100 with the time saved.
Have you tried Opal? Let me know in the comments!