Don’t get me wrong. Not everything in life is free. But I’m not one to pass up a good thing, especially when it is free. And you shouldn’t either. Apple’s App Store for iPhone is a bazaar of freebies, some of them good, some of them pesky. We at PCMag sort through hundreds if not thousands of apps a year looking for those diamonds in the rough, the apps that work well or accomplish some feat you didn’t even know you needed done, and can be downloaded at no charge.
Realize, too, that “free” doesn’t always mean “cheap.” The iPhone market—and mobile apps markets in general—are still rather nascent in the grand scheme of things. It’s only been a few years since the Apple’s App Store first debuted. Developers haven’t quite figured out the best business model for attracting new users and making money. While the market continues to sort itself out, take advantage of the many apps that are very good and don’t cost a thing.
The 50 free iPhone apps that made the cut for this list are the ones that have shown outstanding performance, have been well received by a variety of technology users, and are truly “free.” No gimmicks, no “membership required.” Free. Period.
Missing from this list are apps and features (like Siri) that come pre-installed on the iPhone, although they are certainly not to be overlooked. The YouTube, Maps, and Clocks apps in particular should not be ignored, while the iTunes, Music (formerly called iPod), and App Store apps typically see a fair share of well-deserved usage, but I suppose you technically paid for them because you bought the phone, so they’re not really free. In any case, you don’t need to choose to download them, so we’re not listing them here.