7 free alternatives to popular paid smartphone apps

Most people would argue that paid apps tend to give us a better experience than free apps. Of course, this is undeniable, though, when you decide whether to spend money on a paid app or a free app, it’s important to weigh the benefits and costs of getting the best experience. If you don’t want to pay for certain apps, you can always find free alternatives that do something like that. The free option is usually a bit missing in functionality, but in most cases, you can still use the free option which is almost as good as the paid option.

Next, we’ll list some of the popular paid mobile apps on the market and look for suitable free alternatives for each of them, while seeing how they differ from the paid version.

1. Movies & TV Shows: Tubi TV vs. Netflix

Netflix is a subscription-based service that gives you paid access to its library of movies, TV shows, and original content. Tubi TV is a free streaming service owned by Fox. Although there are ad breaks, the service has several types of popular movies.

Still, Netflix has a wide variety of original shows and offers all the latest movies. In contrast, Tubi TV has relatively few new shows to offer.

The good thing is that it’s free and doesn’t require a subscription. The downside is that the video is limited to standard quality, which may not meet your requirements.

Overall, if you’re after quality rather than quantity, Netflix is the best choice for you. Tubi TV doesn’t offer a huge library of movies, but if you just want to see some movies that don’t require a monthly subscription, Tubi TV will be pretty good.

Download: Tubi TV for Android | iOS (Free)

2. VPN Services: ProtonVPN vs. Surfshark VPN

A lot of people probably want a powerful and affordable VPN service.

Surfshark is a secure VPN that offers a variety of features, excellent compatibility, and good performance. It combines greater security with fast enough speed to process streaming as well as unlock geo-restricted content. It also allows an unlimited number of devices to be used on one account.

Surfshark’s alerting feature also protects your sensitive information, and clean web adblockers block trackers and malicious websites for you.

Still, if you’re looking for a more economical or free alternative, then you should consider ProtonVPN. It offers unlimited data for free users without sacrificing speed or security and offers a strict no-logs policy. While the free tier works well, it’s limited to a single device and there are only three countries to choose from.

Download: ProtonVPN for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

3. Digital Publications & Magazines: Flipboard vs. Medium

Medium is a subscription-based publication, with a mix of articles on business, technology, and political issues. Membership starts at $5 per month and provides access to the best writing on Medium and helps support thoughtful writers and analyses.

Flipboard is a free online platform where you can discover and customize your favorite web themes in an easy-to-navigate, beautiful mobile magazine. Flipboard is great for news and magazines, and Medium is great for blogging.

Flipboard’s visuals are dazzling and make reading super easy. The Smart Magazine option lets you start finding interesting stories from web and social networking sites that you can’t know. It also integrates seamlessly with social media, so it’s easy to find or follow friends and share stories.

Download: Flipboard for Android | iOS (Free)

4. Meditation and Self-Care: Smiling Mind vs. Headspace

Headspace is a guided meditation app that offers a wide variety of exercises to help you train your mind in your daily routine to make it more calm and balanced. There’s also a range of things you can do to help you use mindfulness to cope with stress, erratic sleep schedules, and other common problems.

While it’s free to try, thanks to its subsequent hefty price of $69.99 per year, this subscription-based model makes the app unattractive to beginners who are just starting to practice meditation. This is a better option for those who already know about guided meditation and want to further develop their skills.

Smiling Mind is an Australian non-profit organization dedicated to improving mindfulness and mental health among young people. Its free online meditation classes are great for kids and teens, but the meditation library is available to anyone young, old, newbie, or experienced.
But whether you’re young, old, new, or experienced, its meditation library should help you.

The intuitive interface makes your mindfulness journey simple, guiding you through the meditation session with useful visualizations. You can also have a “health check-up,” which contains a series of questions designed to assess your emotional state before starting treatment. What’s more, the app is completely free to use.

Download: Smiling Mind for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Antivirus and Security: AVG vs. Kaspersky

To avoid unknown risks, we should all be equipped with an antivirus program. If you’ve been looking for the antivirus program that best suits your needs, both Kaspersky and AVG should be good choices for you.

Kaspersky offers three different security suites, starting with entry-level antivirus and anti-phishing software. The full-featured package adds parental controls and substantial protection against hacker attacks, as well as webcam control and online payment protection.

With fast scans and automatic updates, you’ll never have to worry about losing important content. You can take advantage of a two-week trial period to test out these features, but then you’ll have to sign up for an annual subscription that starts at $29.99 per year.

AVG Antivirus is also a popular freemium antivirus app for Android, iOS, and desktop devices. The app protects your mobile devices from viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats in real-time. It also scans device memory and external memory to locate, lock, or erase data from lost or stolen devices.

You can also choose to upgrade to other security features, including virus scanning, malware file scanning and performance issues, VPN protection, device location retrieval, and app locking to prevent strangers from touching confidential information on your device.

Download: AVG for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

6. Music Streaming: YouTube vs. Amazon Prime Music

Listening to music is one of many people’s biggest hobbies. With Amazon Music, you can listen to more than 90 million songs anytime, anywhere, on all devices, including smartphones, tablets, Fire TV, Alexa-enabled devices like Amazon Echo.

However, Amazon Music is only available for Amazon Super Members. The monthly subscription fee is $7.99 and the annual subscription fee is $79. If you want to stream songs without ads, download and save your favorite music and videos, Amazon Prime is a better option.

YouTube lets you get content from anywhere in the world. You can collect and share everything you like in one place, such as music, shows, and news. This is the easiest way to enjoy music. You can search, play, and save tracks from your favorite artists or albums, although you have to turn on the screen while listening to music.

It will also give you personalized recommendations based on your preferences and history. If you want to save on your budget and don’t mind seeing ads while streaming, YouTube is a great option.

Download: YouTube for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

7. Audiobooks: LibriVox vs. Audible

Audible is a major supplier of audiobooks worldwide, with over 200,000 books and a rich collection of classics and bestsellers. Audible offers a 30-day free trial but then requires a membership, starting at $7.95 per month. If you value customization, ease of use, and professional storytellers, audible subscriptions might be better.

But for audiobook lovers, LibriVox could also be a surprise. The free reading series includes fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, horror, classics, and children’s books. This means you can find great classics by Dickens, Hemingway, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others. LibriVox is a volunteer-based initiative that aims to record books in the public domain and publish them as free audiobooks.

Download: LibriVox for Android | iOS (Free)


While not every paid app offers free alternatives, it’s not hard to find a free alternative either. It’s just that before spending a few dollars on a new app, think about what you can get from the free app and whether your needs will change in the future.