The best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals in August 2017

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is one of the most impressive Android phones ever released, full stop. On this page you can find, filter and compare all of the best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals currently available in the UK.

Prices on this fantastic phone have had rather a turbulent summer. TechRadar has had some great value exclusive discount codes and right now the best saving out there is £25 off O2's 3GB tariff for only £29 per month with our exclusive TR25OFFS8 code. And if you need more data than that for Spotify listening, Netflix watching and podcast downloading then Three has some superb 30GB plans.

Underneath the comparison tool below, you'll find our editors' selections for all of the best value S8 deals currently available from the major networks, EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. In some cases, it isn't far off being as cheap as the best Galaxy S7 deals. We have recommendations for the best value plans, whether you're after the cheapest deal available, loads of data or a good balance of both. So if you can't wait until Black Friday, stick with us to locate the very cheapest S8s on the market.

See also: Galaxy S8 Plus deals | iPhone 7 deals | Mobile phone deals | SIM only deals | Samsung Galaxy S8 review

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals for the big networks:

Here we'll walk you through all of the best value Samsung Galaxy S8 deals currently available from EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three in the UK (if you're in the US or Australia, we can help you find the best Galaxy S8 deals for the US and the best Australian Samsung Galaxy S8 deals).


samsung galaxy s7 deals

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £100 upfront | 1GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £28pm
Last week Mobiles.co.uk dropped the cheapest Galaxy S8 deal we've seen in aaaaaaaages. It's a well-weighted balance between upfront and monthly costs – £100 at the outset (just increased by £20) and under £30 per month. That means the overall sum edges below the £775-mark. Excellent. Total cost over 24 months is £772

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk


samsung galaxy s7 deals

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £110 £85 upfront | 3GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £29pm
Stand back, stand back – we have an EXCLUSIVE coming through. Enter the code TR25OFFS8 at the checkout on this deal and get, you guessed it, £25 off. That makes this the very cheapest Galaxy S8 deal on the market right now. Getting Samsung's flagship phone for less than £800 over the two years is excellent, especially when you consider you get 3GB of data as well. Total cost over 24 months is £781

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk
Discount code: TR25OFFS8


samsung galaxy s7 deals

Samsung Galaxy S8 | FREE upfront | 10GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £37.99pm
This 10GB price from the UK's fastest 4G network is very attractive, especially as you don't have to part with a penny at the start of the contract! You also get unlimited calls and texts, as well as EE's usual perks – 6 months of Apple Music, 3 months of the BT Sport app and the fastest 4G speeds in the UK. Tempted? You should be! Total cost over 24 months is £911.76

Get this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk


samsung galaxy s7 deals

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £49.99 upfront | 30GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £36pm
30GB tariffs for the Galaxy S8 have gone downhill this month – they're no longer anywhere near as impressive as they were. But this deal has at least just dropped by £20. The upfront fee is reasonable enough, but it's that £36 monthly fee that marks this out from the rest when you consider just how much data you get. Total cost over 24 months is £903.99

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

Samsung Galaxy S8: consider going SIM only

If you’re determined to get yourself a Samsung Galaxy S8, the most economical way of doing it is to buy the phone outright and pair it with a SIM only deal. The £689 RRP is certainly high, but it can still work out a little cheaper on average over the two years.

With its latest flagship Galaxy S8, Samsung is getting nearer and nearer to smartphone perfection. The bezel-less design is something a little bit special in an area of tech that can sometimes feel like it's standing still. There are advancements with the splendid screen and fantastic 12MP camera, too.

Read TechRadar's full Samsung Galaxy S8 review

Samsung Galaxy S8 deals by network

Whatever your favoured network, however much data, calls and texts allowance you need, we've trawled the market to pick out our favourite Galaxy S8 deals below.

samsung galaxy s7 deals

The 4 best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals on EE

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £125 upfront | 3GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £27.99pm
But for that 1GB Vodafone tariff, this is the cheapest Galaxy S8 deal on the market right now. We're delighted that it comes with 3GB data allowance rather than the bog standard 1GB. And of course you also get EE's superfast 4G speeds. Total cost over 24 months is £796.76

Get this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £48.99 upfront | 5GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £32.99pm
You can save a few pounds by going for a 1GB or 2GB EE Galaxy S8 contract, but we think it's worth paying the extra £40-odd and going for 5GB instead. That kind of data means that you can indulge in Spotify and podcast downloading away from Wi-Fi without too much fear of creeping over your allowance. Total cost over 24 months is £840.75

Get this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

Samsung Galaxy S8 | FREE upfront | 10GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £37.99pm
This 10GB price from the UK's fastest 4G network is very attractive, especially as you don't have to part with a penny at the start of the contract! You also get unlimited calls and texts, as well as EE's usual perks – 6 months of Apple Music, 3 months of the BT Sport app and the fastest 4G speeds in the UK. Tempted? You should be! Total cost over 24 months is £911.76

Get this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S8 | FREE upfront | 15GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £42.99pm
If 10GB just isn't enough and you're happy to spend a little more, we think that this 15GB deal is the next best option. The upfront is a lot less than the 10GB deal which is a bonus – in fact, it's absolutely free! And if you're teetering on the edge of snapping up this deal, the £40 cashback may just sway you. Total cost over 24 months is £1031.76

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

samsung galaxy s7 deals

The 2 best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals on O2

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £110 £85 upfront | 3GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £29pm
Stand back, stand back – we have an EXCLUSIVE coming through. Enter the code TR25OFFS8 at the checkout on this deal and get, you guessed it, £25 off. That makes this the very cheapest Galaxy S8 deal on the market right now. Getting Samsung's flagship phone for less than £800 over the two years is excellent, especially when you consider you get 3GB of data as well. Total cost over 24 months is £781

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk
Discount code: TR25OFFS8

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £100 upfront | 20GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £39pm
O2 prices have been up and down like the proverbial over the past few weeks, and this 20GB tariff hasn't been left out of the chopping and changing. And over the last week it just went up by £40 again. That said, this is still a decent price for so much data. Total cost over 24 months is £1036

View this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk

samsung galaxy s7 deals

The best 3 Samsung Galaxy S8 deals on Vodafone

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £100 upfront | 1GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £28pm
Last week Mobiles.co.uk dropped the cheapest Galaxy S8 deal we've seen in aaaaaaaages. It's a nice balance between upfront and monthly costs – £100 at the outset and under £30 per month. That means the overall sum edges below the £775-mark. Excellent. Total cost over 24 months is £772

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £170 £135 upfront | 4GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £27pm
We had a hunch that the above two deals weren't going to be enough data for you (you data-hungry so-and-so, you), so we bagged a discount from Mobiles.co.uk on this 4GB tariff instead. Enter TR35OFFS8 at the checkout to bring the two-year price of this deal down below £800. Total cost over 24 months is £783

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk
Discount code: TR35OFFS8

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £75 upfront | 16GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £34pm
It isn't quite the return to the glory days of 16GB deals on the Galaxy S8 from Vodafone (it was only £29pm for a period last month), but it's not far off. The monthly price is back down to £34, there's around £50 off the handset and the bountiful data allowance should be more than enough data for most people. You can get 32GB, but the price really rockets. Total cost over 24 months is £891

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

samsung galaxy s7 deals

 The 2 best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals on Three

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £9.99 upfront | 8GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £36pm
This deal from Three is one of the best around. It's the cheapest Samsung Galaxy S8 deal on Three (£2pm cheaper than a few weeks ago). So if you like this network and want to spend as little as possible, this is the one to go for. And now you get a healthy 8GB of data. Total cost over 24 months is £873.99

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

Samsung Galaxy S8 | £49.99 upfront | 30GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £36pm
30GB tariffs for the Galaxy S8 have gone downhill this month – they're no longer anywhere near as impressive as they were. But this deal has at least just dropped by £20. The upfront fee is reasonable enough, but it's that £36 monthly fee that marks this out from the rest when you consider just how much data you get. Total cost over 24 months is £903.99

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

via Click on the link for the full article

The best iPhone 7 deals in August 2017

There's a feel of the calm before the storm around iPhone 7 prices this month. They've settled into a bit of a groove, with the impressive £22.99 deal from EE leading the way.

We reckon they'll probably remain more or less this way before the double onslaught on the near horizon – the unveiling of the new iPhone 7S or iPhone 8 (or both!) and the big bargain bonanza that will be Black Friday 2017. With those two loitering spectres at the feast, there seems to be no great urge for retailers to drop their prices right now.

On this page you'll find all of the best iPhone 7 deals available this month. Whether you're looking for unlimited data, a free phone or any other type of deal, you can use this page to choose the best option out there. And if it is big data that you need, then 30GB on Three is only £33 a month – it's been one of our favourite deals for a while now.

Scroll down to find the best deal for you. And don't forget that you'll get a tenner off the handset cost if you get your iPhone 7 from Mobiles.co.uk.

See also: iPhone 7 Plus deals | iPhone 7 SIM free / Unlocked | Mobile phone deals | iPhone 6S deals | SIM only deals | Samsung Galaxy S8 deals

The best value iPhone 7 deals this month:

The best iPhone 7 deals (18th August 2017)

At the top of our guide you'll see what we've chosen as this month's best value iPhone 7 deals in the UK (if you're down under, head over to our best Australian iPhone 7 deals). These are chosen purely on the basis of value – unlike some other sites we don't manipulate the order of these deals for commercial gain! Then we pick out the best deals for each of the four major networks, those being EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

iphone 7 deals


iPhone 7 deals on EE

iPhone 7 32GB | £165 upfront (with 10FF code) | 2GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £22.99pm
£22.99 is still the minimum amount you'll be able to spend to get your hands on the latest iPhone. If you're after the cheapest iPhone 7 deal possible on EE, then this is the one you need. It may feel like a big wedge to find at the outset (up £25 from last month), but it comes with unlimited calls and texts to add to the 2GB of data. Total cost over 24 months is £716.76

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals


iphone 7 deals on o2

iPhone 7 128GB | £160 handset (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £29pm
If 32GB just simply isn't going to cut it, then this is probably the best O2 deal to go for. For a mere £29 a month you can get hold of the more capacious 128GB model. It's a bit of a wedge to spend up front, but you get a respectable 3GB of data and much more room for music and videos. Total cost over 24 months is £856

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals


iphone 7 deals on vodafone

iPhone 7 32GB | £90 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 16GB data | £34pm
Bah! 16GB data on Vodafone keeps chopping and changing on the iPhone 7. It seems to have settled into this price band now, after swinging £50 either side over the last few weeks. It may look expensive, but that's a heck of a lot of data, so still worth a look. Let streaming and downloading commence! Total cost over 24 months is £906

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals


iphone 7 deals on Three

iPhone 7 32GB | £94.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 30GB data | £33 per month
This is our favourite big data deal on the iPhone 7. The price of the handset is more expensive than last month, but now it's down to just £33 per month for 30GB data and unlimited everything else! Extremely strong if you need a lot of data or if you don't "need" the data but would like a safety net. And bear in mind that going unlimited is way more expensive. Total cost over 24 months is £886.99

View this deal: at Buymobiles

iphone 7 deals

Now let's break down the best iPhone 7 deals for August 2017 by network…

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 deals on EE

Best iPhone 7 deals on EE (August 2017)

iPhone 7 32GB | £165 upfront (with 10FF code) | 2GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £22.99pm
£22.99 is still the minimum amount you'll be able to spend to get your hands on the latest iPhone. If you're after the cheapest iPhone 7 deal possible on EE, then this is the one you need. It may feel like a big wedge to find at the outset (up £25 from last month), but it comes with unlimited calls and texts to add to the 2GB of data. Total cost over 24 months is £716.76

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £144.99 handset | 5GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £27.99pm
Times must be good – we can't recall 5GB iPhone 7 deals that come in at £27.99 a month happening too often. It's a big spend up top, which won't apeal to everybody, but the tariff gives you 5GB data and unlimited everything else. Sterling stuff. Total cost over 24 months is £816.75

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | FREE upfront | 10GB data | Unlimited mins and texts | £37.99pm
EE becomes uncompetitive on the iPhone 7 when you venture to the highest data deals, so if you need more than 10GB you should go to another network. But this tariff is a good'n from Mobile Phones Direct. You get a completely free handset and they'll throw £12 cashback at you, too. Total cost over 24 months is £911.76

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 128GB | £125 upfront | 2GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £32.99 per month
If you want the extra storage space that the 128GB iPhone 7 affords, you have to be prepared to spend. We understand that the huge handset price will put some people off (it's a tad more expensive than last month), but this is not a bad price on such a desirable handset. Total cost over 24 months is £916.76

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 deals

iphone 7 deals on o2

Best iPhone 7 deals on O2 (August 2017)

iPhone 7 32GB | £150 £100 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £27 per month
The discount code we've managed to swing from Mobiles.co.uk for this iPhone 7 deal makes it one of the best purchases around on the Apple flagship. Pop in TR50OFF7 at the checkout to get a tasty £50 off. That brings the upfront cost down to £100, and then monthly payments are just £27. And being O2, you also get the network's revered Priority rewards, too. Total cost over 24 months is £748

View this deal at: Mobiles.co.uk
Discount code: TR50OFF7

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £60 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £39 per month
This biiiiiig data deal from O2 almost comes close to touching the prices offered by Three. 20GB a month will keep you streaming and surfing for as long as most people need. Plus – as with any O2 tariff – you get the boon of those Priority rewards as well. Total cost over 24 months is £996

View this deal: at e2save

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 128GB | £160 handset (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £29 per month
If 32GB just simply isn't going to cut it, then this is probably the best O2 deal to go for. For a mere £29 a month you can get hold of the more capacious 128GB model. It's a bit of a wedge to spend up front, but you get a respectable 3GB of data and much more room for music and videos. Total cost over 24 months is £856

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals

iphone 7 deals on vodafone

Best iPhone 7 deals on Vodafone (August 2017)

iPhone 7 32GB | £140 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £23pm
Vodafone has somehow managed to find a way to crack the £700 barrier with this new deal from Mobiles.co.uk. That's thanks in part to the ridiculously low £23 per month tariff, and in part to our exclusive 10OFF discount code that gets you a tenner off the price of the handset. Total cost over 24 months is £692

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £115 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £27pm
This is one of the best iPhone 7 deal available on the Vodafone network in the UK and a cracker full stop if you're after a middling amount of data. With a total cost of £763 once you've employed our exclusive discount code, it's fantastic value on the newest iPhone out there! Total cost over 24 months is £763

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £90 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 16GB data | £34pm
Bah! 16GB data on Vodafone keeps chopping and changing on the iPhone 7. It seems to have settled into this price band now, after swinging £50 either side over the last few weeks. It may look expensive, but that's a heck of a lot of data, so still worth a look. Let streaming and downloading commence! Total cost over 24 months is £906

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 deals

iphone 7 deals on Three

Best iPhone 7 deals on Three (August 2017)

iPhone 7 32GB | £54.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £31 per month
We frequently praise Three for turning out excellent value prices on big data plans, but this 2GB tariff is very handy if you're swayed by the numerical network. It's a really nice balance between upfront cost and monthly payments – although we're slightly miffed that it's just gone up by a fiver. Total cost over 24 months is £798.99

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £94.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 30GB data | £33 per month
This is our favourite big data deal on the iPhone 7. The price of the handset is more expensive than last month, but now it's down to just £33 per month for 30GB data and unlimited everything else! Extremely strong if you need a lot of data or if you don't "need" the data but would like a safety net. And bear in mind that going unlimited is way more expensive. Total cost over 24 months is £886.99

View this deal: at Buymobiles

iphone 7 deals

iPhone 7 32GB | £124.99 upfront | Unlimited data, calls and texts | £48 per month
If you want to get an iPhone 7 with unlimited everything then this is the best deal out there at the moment. As you'd expect, the monthly fee is relatively high at £48 but that's actually very good value when you look at how much the other networks are charging for much less data. That being said, with 30GB available for just £36 per month, the above deal is the one we'd go for! Total cost over 24 months is £1276

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

via Click on the link for the full article

JBL Boombox speaker tunes into ’80s portable style with all mod-cons

If you've ever wanted to channel your inner 'John Cusack in Say Anything', but haven't fancied dusting off your dad's cassette tape collection, well, you're in luck.

JBL wants to provide you with the tunes through its new Boombox speaker, tapping into the style of the oversized portable speakers of the 1980s, but with all the trappings of a modern wireless system

So, for starters then, that means Bluetooth streaming from two simultaneously paired devices, a whopping 20,000mAh battery good for 24 hours, and full waterproofing.

Feature-full

It also comes with two USB ports – one to charge the speaker itself and another to power an external device that's been hooked up to that giant battery – and the option to chain up other JBL speakers through the company's Connect+ feature.

However, you'd better beef up those guns before taking it onto the road – that giant battery means it's weighing in at 5.25kg.

There's no set release date yet, but JBL have promised to have it in UK shops for £399 this fall. That's roughly $515 or AU$650, though we're still waiting on news of global availability. 

via Click on the link for the full article

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 release date, news and rumors

Update: Live photos of a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 dummy unit give us one of our closest looks yet at the handset, from a variety of angles.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the biggest comeback story in phones following all of the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 battery failures last year.

And now that our Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus reviews are up, we're focused on what next's for Samsung's S Pen-equipped smartphone and its launch date.

It's fascinating: The Note 7 will go down in smartphone history for all the wrong reasons, yet when it wasn't causing property damage or injuries, it was among the best phones you could buy. That honor was short-lived.

Where does Samsung go from here? We now have a better idea of the Galaxy Note 8 features thanks to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus launch. They look and feel like Note phones (read: really big) without that all-important S Pen.

Samsung will build on top of its new all-screen technology, and the Note series will continue to be Samsung's high-end, at times experimental smartphone.

When it will launch and how much will it cost? Here's the latest rumors we've been hearing about non-stop.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Samsung's next flagship phablet
  • When is it out? August 23 announcement, possibly a September 15 release
  • What will it cost? A lot, the Note 7 cost $850/£749/AU$1,349

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 release date

(Photo Credit: Evan Blass)

Samsung is going to announce the Galaxy Note 8 on August 23, according to the official invite sent to the media a month in advance.

When will it actually be in your hands? The company recently hinted at an early September release date in some countries, with others getting it in October.

More specifically we've now heard from both an analyst and a South Korean carrier that the Note 8 will hit stores on September 15.

That makes sense, as we've become accustomed to seeing a new S Pen-compatible Android phone every autumn. 

It also more or less lines up with earlier rumors, as trusted source The Korea Herald has reported the Galaxy Note 8 will come out in August in order to beat the iPhone 8 to market.

In the UK, network carrier EE has already confirmed it will the selling the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 when it goes on sale and you can register your interest on its website.

TechRadar’s take: The Note 8 will officially be announced on Wednesday, August 23, while it could hit stores starting on September 15. The good news is that the US, UK and Australia are very likely to be in the first wave instead of having to wait until October.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 screen

Hottest leaks:

  • A QHD+ screen
  • 6.3-inch screen size likely
  • Another 'Infinity Display'

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may once again make the Note series known for its groundbreaking screen, but not just because of its size this time around.

It's possible that the Note 8 will be one of the first smartphones with a pixel-dense 4K screen, with convincing rumors backing up that theory.

Why do you need a 4K resolution on a phone? You don't when it's in your hand; the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus look good enough paired down to Full HD 1080p in its battery saving mode.

But a 4K screen is important when your phone doubles as a Samsung Gear VR headset screen. Otherwise, you'll see individual pixels (that's what we call the screen door effect) when it's just two inches from your face.

Though this theory is looking ever less likely, with recent rumors pointing to a 1440 x 2960 screen, just like the Galaxy S8.

What about the Note 8 screen size? The phone series has stuck to a 5.7-inch screen ever since the Note 3, but it'll almost certainly break from tradition.

A 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is more likely, because the Galaxy S8 Plus has reached 6.2 inches. It's really hard to see it being any smaller than that, and the latest leaks also point to a 6.3-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED display, with a super-widescreen 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

But an even bigger 6.4-inch screen is possible, and indeed has been rumored, with the source adding that it will be a QHD+ OLED display with minimal bezels, just like the S8 and S8 Plus.

Or maybe it will split the difference and have a 6.3-inch display, as has also been rumored.

It's also, unsurprisingly, likely to have an 'Infinity Display', an idea backed up by a recent front display panel leak. That's what Samsung calls the near bezel-free 18.5:9 display on the Galaxy S8, and it would make sense for a similar screen to be used on the Note 8. Not only would it make sense, but it's also been rumored

Credit: Ice Universe

Credit: Ice Universe

Samsung might go even further that maximize the screen-to-body ratio on the Note 8 though, with the image above suggesting the corners will be shrunk.

A picture from the same source, below, shows what could be our first proper look at the Galaxy Note 8 – but there's no way of knowing whether this is an official photo that's been leaked or a clever Photoshop.

Another rumor suggested that the Galaxy Note 8 could act as Samsung's first smartphone with a foldable screen. It's extremely unlikely, but a fun thought.

Samsung is rumored to be readying two foldable phones for 2017. But we don't feel like it's due for a flagship phone just yet – not this year at least. We've seen patents for what could be the Galaxy Note 9, too, but that's even further out

Instead of launching an overhauled Note this year, Samsung is said to be preparing a foldable Samsung Galaxy X prototype – not a phone ready for commercial launch. 

At best, next year's Samsung Galaxy Note 9 could test the waters with a foldable variant, much like it tested curved screens with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

TechRadar’s take: The Note 8 will almost certainly continue Samsung's streak of debuting new technology in its second half of the year phone. At first it was bigger screens and S Pens, then the curved Galaxy Note Edge variant, and most recently the debut of Mobile HDR. What's next? A 4K resolution with expanded S Pen functionality at or around 6.3 inches could help differentiate this year's Note phone. Though the latest leaks suggest the resolution will stay at QHD+, so we wouldn't count on 4K.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 design

Hottest leaks:

  • Curved glass front and back
  • A camera bump

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 design is likely to take almost all of its cues from the glass-and-metal sandwich that is the Galaxy S8 Plus. It's almost a Note phone – minus the stylus.

Samsung's 'Infinity Display' doesn't seem like a one-off marketing term. It's here to stay, and you can see how the screen and phone might look in the renders below.

These are apparently based on a factory CAD and indeed they show a Galaxy S8-like design, with a cruved glass front and back and almost no bezels. But they also include an ugly camera bump and the dimensions point to a chunky phone that comes in at 162.4 x 74.5 x 8.4mm, going up to 9.5mm on the camera bump.

We're not convinced the final design would take such an ugly form, so hopefully we'll see some more polished leaks over the coming weeks and months.

One of those leaks comes directly from Samsung. The company published a tweet promoting the new Exynos 8895 processor, which is expected to be inside the Note 8, and it's placed on a phone that may be the Galaxy Note 8.

There's a smaller bezel than the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus while there are no buttons on the side, which may suggest this is just a dummy unit. You can see the image of the phone in the tweet below:

Most recently though, case maker Ghostek has revealed full renders of what it expects the Galaxy Note 8 to look like.

There's no guarantee that these interpretations are on the money, and it's not clear how much knowledge Ghostek has of the Note 8's development – so take it with a pinch of salt.

That said, if they are accurate we're basically looking at an even larger Galaxy S8 Plus, with the addition of a second camera on the rear and a slot for the S-Pen on the base.

Is this the final Galaxy Note 8 design? (credit: BGR)

That design is looking ever more likely, as we've now also seen photos of a dummy unit with an identical look, which you can see below.

There's a big screen, a dedicated Bixby button and a dual-lens camera, all of which we're expecting, along with a seemingly longer, narrower and generally more rectangular shape than the Samsung Galaxy S8.

In other news, instead of a physical home button, the Note 8 is rumored to have a pressure-sensitive screen that brings up different menus and options depending on how hard you press the display. The S8 and S8 Plus have this, but it's limited to the home button.

More than cloning Apple's 3D Touch screen technique, however, we're hoping that Samsung figures out a way to embed a fingerprint sensor in the screen. One of the latest leaks of a prototype device suggests the company may have found a way to do it as there's no sign of a physical fingerprint scanner.

The S8 and S8 Plus shifted the fingerprint scanner to the back, awkwardly next to the camera lens. Cue the smudges. 

But returning it to the front, under the display, would be ideal placement when such technology is ready – though rumors suggest it may not be ready in time, and leaked images such as the renders above show it on the back.

TechRadar’s take: The Note 8 design may not look too different from glass-and-metal Galaxy S8 Plus at 6.2 inches. We're bullish on that. We're hoping to see more rumors about a fingerprint sensor embedded in the front glass. It's an idea that'll be in Samsung's near future, if not the Note 8.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 colors

So you want to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 already, right? Chances are 'Yes,' if you're this far down the page. Next question: Which color will you get?

The S8 colors, though is varied by region

We're keeping tabs on the list of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 colors, and expect to see a Midnight Black, Maple Gold, Deep Sea Blue and Orchid Grey.

You should remember that not all colors launch worldwide. The US got some muted tones for the S8, and Samsung recently launched Coral Blue months after the phone came out. It's a plot to spur new sales by doesn't help early adopters at all.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera

Hottest leaks:

  • A dual-lens camera
  • 2x optical zoom
  • Telephoto and wide-angle lenses

Samsung's camera is due for an upgrade, and the Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung's playground to try new things.

The 12MP sensor stayed the same from the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Note 7 to the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Samsung promised it tweaked the software. Okay.

But we still anticipate seeing something different from the Note 8, and that could come in the form of a dual-lens camera, especially as exactly that has now been rumored by respected analyst Ming Chi Kuo.

Supposedly, the Galaxy Note 8 will have a 12MP wide-angle lens and a 13MP telephoto one, and you'll be able to combine them for a 3x optical zoom.

Those specs match up with some information spotted on Samsung's semiconductor website.

More recently we've heard from trusted leaker Evan Blass that it will have two 12MP sensors, with the secondary one being an f/2.4 aperture telephoto lens capable of 2x optical zoom.

And it all sounds a lot like the setup on the iPhone 7 Plus, which allows for a 2x optical zoom, though hopefully you'll also be able to use the sensors independently like on the LG G6.

Kuo adds that both cameras will also have optical image stabilization, and we also fully expect a 5MP to 8MP front-facing upgrade given that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus got that spec boost along with selfie auto-focus.

Elsewhere we've heard that the Note 8 could get dual 12MP snappers.

We've also now seen a render showing dual lenses on the back of the Note 8, so this is looking likely.

TechRadar’s take: We're fully expecting Samsung to jump on the dual-lens camera bandwagon sooner or later, and as a flagship phone the Note 8 seems an ideal candidate.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 battery

Hottest leaks:

  • A 3,300mAh battery

Wow. Here's a touchy subject for you. The Note 8 battery has to be big, in the ballpark of 3,500mAh, like Samsung's current crop of phones.

Samsung could technically go bigger – Asus Zenfone Max has a 5,000mAh battery. But we don't expect a such fightingly bigger number.

The Note 8 battery not only has to be safe, it has to look safe. 5,000mAh doesn't look safe. Plus, Samsung packs in a lot more internal technology.

The Note 7 findings confirmed that the explosions were the result of two different battery failures. So we expect Samsung to play it cool with a smaller battery capacity than it could technically go with.

In fact, it might be very conservative with the size, as one rumor points to just a 3,300mAh juice pack, and that's since been backed up by another source.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • A Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 chipset
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 64GB/128GB standard sizes, maybe 256GB too

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs are likely to reflect those of the S8 and S8 Plus, but may finally include a boost in RAM.

Samsung's newest flagship phones premiered in two chipset flavors: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in the US and its own Exynos 8895 in the UK and other regions. The fact that Samsung is manufacturing both doesn't hurt the chances that they'll continue on to the Note 8, and indeed an Exynos 8895 has been rumored for the phone.

Here's the difference: It may jump from 4GB of RAM to 6GB of RAM. We were surprised to see Samsung didn't make a 6GB Galaxy S8 for the West, although it is launching that exact model in China.

A Note 8 with 6GB of RAM isn't out of the question then, and has even been rumored. More memory means more apps can be open at once, and Samsung is boasting that the large screen is great for multitasking.

And there could be plenty of space for apps too, with an unnamed Samsung official reportedly saying that the Note 8 will come in both 64GB and 128GB storage sizes – the latter being double the capacity of most Samsung flagships.

Another rumor suggests there will be a 256GB version, but it'll only come to certain markets. It may be a Korea exclusive and a limited edition of the Note 8.

Most recently we've heard that the reportedly 'final' specs of the phone include a Snapdragon 835 (in the US), an Exynos 8895 (everywhere else), 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, along with a microSD card slot.

As for software, Samsung renamed TouchWiz to 'Samsung Experience,' and it's actually likable. We expect a further refined operating system overlay based on Android Nougat, more specifically Android 7.1.1 if rumors are to be believed

Wanting Android O on the Note 8 is wishful thinking, as that's likely being saved for the Google Pixel 2, which is expected to launch later. Indeed, a new benchmark again points to Android 7.1.1 for the Galaxy Note 8 – though it's sure to get updated to Android O once that's available.

TechRadar’s take: The Note 8 chipset may not change from what we saw in the S8 and S8 Plus, but it can differentiate itself with the long-awaited 6GB of RAM upgrade. This will further Samsung's drive toward multitasking on the phone and DeX desktop accessory.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 other features

Hottest leaks:

  • A stylus with a speaker
  • A fingerprint scanner built into the screen
  • An iris scanner
  • Bixby AI 2.0

Like the Galaxy S8 before it we're hearing rumors that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 could have a fingerprint scanner built into the screen. But will it happen this time? The render below backs the theory up, and also points to audio tuned by AKG, so the Note 8 could put a focus on sound.

However, a Samsung official has reportedly said that the Note 8 won't have an in-screen fingerprint scanner as the company couldn't perfect the technology in time, so that's looking like an unlikely feature, despite the image above.

One render of the phone suggests the scanner will sit in a similar position to where it did on the Galaxy S8, but slightly away from the camera to make sure you don't smudge it when you miss the sensor.

The S Pen meanwhile is a Galaxy Note 8 essential – it's why some people are holding off on buying the S8 and S8 Plus. Good things may come to those who wait.

The S Pen stylus could come with a built-in speaker, according to a new patent. What the speaker does isn't clear. It could very well read notes back to you. We've also heard that it might be able to vibrate.

Samsung has changed up its S Pen on the Galaxy Tab S3, so it has not been afraid to make it different (in the case of the Tab S3's it's much bigger).

You can bet we'll see an iris scanner in the Note 8. This unique phone unlocking method debuted in the Note 7 and made its way to the S8 and S8 Plus.

However, we may see a more secure Galaxy Note 8 given recent reports that a group of hackers were able to bypass the iris scanner. Time to improve the tech.

It'll also inherit dust and water resistance with a rating of IP68, have a microSD card slot for expandable storage and Fast Charge via USB-C and wireless charge, too.

Samsung confirmed that it intends to expand its Bixby virtual assistant beyond the S8 and S8 Plus, so the Note 8 is a prime candidate for its Siri rival. Give it a couple months and it'll be much better – just in time for the Note 8 release date.

There's even talk that Samsung plans to have a Bixby-powered pair of AirPod competitors ready for the Note 8 launch – so you might be able to get some high-quality, smart, wireless earbuds with your phablet. 

TechRadar’s take: With Samsung Galaxy Note 8, you're going to get 'everything you see here' from the S8 and S8 Plus, and they're throwing in the S Pen. That means an iris scanner, dust and water resistant, fast wireless charging and Bixby AI are also expected in the new phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 price

Hottest leaks:

  • Could cost over $1,000

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is shaping up to sound like the S8 Plus, but better. Of course, that means it'll likely be more pricey.

Noted leaker Evan Blass says the phablet will launch with a sticker price of €999 (roughly $1,120/£875/AU$1,475), so you'd better start saving.

We've heard a similar price of between $1,000 (around £770/AU$1,300) and $1,200 (roughly £920/AU$1,560) from a site supposedly quoting a Samsung official.

Considering the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus price is $824.99 (£779, $1,349), you're almost certainly looking at a slight cost increase for the S Pen and expected 6GB of RAM. The Note 7 launched at $850 (£749, AU$1,349) – more than the S8 Plus in the US, less in the UK and exactly the same in Australia.

It's going to be expensive then, but as well as a top tier phone you might get some extras for your money, as Samsung is rumored to be throwing in a free case in some regions. Sadly, it doesn't look like the UK or US will get one, but there's no word on Australia, and a different freebie is always possible.

TechRadar’s take: The Galaxy Note 8 is sure to be expensive, but probably won’t be much more than the Note 7 or S8 Plus, whichever is higher in your region.

Should you wait for the Note 8?

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is built for S Pen users who refuse to work on their phone without a stylus. For these people, it's worth the wait.

However, you're not going to miss much by checking out the Galaxy S8 Plus. It already has a 6.2-inch screen that tops the size of every Note phone before it.

Other perks we expect in the Note 8 are 6GB of RAM and a 4K display for a leap in Samsung Gear VR gaming that demands extra pixels. Don't need a stylus? Don't need a high-end VR headset? The S8 Plus is plenty of phone for you.

Aside from distinctly fewer flames and explosions, there are a number of other things we’d like from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the following are our top wants.

1. A lower price

For the brief period that it was on sale, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was colossally expensive, coming in at $850/£749/AU$1,349 if you bought it off contract.

The size and specs of the phone went a long way towards justifying that price, but it still put the phone out of many people’s reach, so we’d like to see a lower price for the Note 8.

It’s unlikely, but you never know, Samsung might drop the price as a goodwill gesture to all its fans that have had to go without an upgrade in 2016.

2. 6GB of RAM

Most current smartphones have 4GB of RAM, but a few, such as the OnePlus 3, have launched with 6GB, and a Chinese variant of the Note 7 was supposed to do the same.

With the Note 8, we’d like to see all versions launch with at least that much. It might sound like overkill, but it would help power VR experiences, and besides, the Note series has always been at the cutting edge.

3. A 4K display

What would help VR even more than extra RAM is a sharper screen, and so we’d like to see a 4K display on the Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung has been peddling QHD screens for a while now, and with the extra size of the Note it’s a prime candidate for a few more pixels.

4. Less sensitive buttons

It’s a minor niggle, but the capacitive buttons on the Note 7, and indeed many Samsung handsets, are overly sensitive, leading to many an accidental press, particularly for those who are new to the handset, so we’d like to see these made slightly less sensitive for the Note 8 – but only slightly!

5. A foldable screen

There’s been talk that Samsung could start launching handsets with foldable screens in 2017. So, could the Note 8 be one of them? It’s unlikely, but it seems like a natural evolution from the curved screens we have now, and would make the phone’s sheer size more manageable.

6. No more bezels

OK, a foldable screen might be asking a bit much, but Samsung could at least ditch the bezels surrounding the display. That could allow the company to either pack a larger screen into the same space, or shrink the handset size down.

Ditching the home button could prove problematic, since it houses the fingerprint scanner, but there have been rumors that Samsung might build the scanner into the screen itself.

7. A new design

Samsung has been iterating on the current design of its phones since the Galaxy S6, so by the time the Note 8 launches it will be about time for a shakeup.

We want the curved screen to stay, unless the alternative is a foldable one, but a change to that metal and glass sandwich would be appreciated, as long as it still looks just as stylish and premium.

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The best iPhone apps to download in 2017

Apps are the cornerstone of Apple's iOS platform. The ecosystem is what sets Apple's mobile platform apart from its rivals, and the highest-quality iPhone apps are typically best in class.

But, like any app store, it is sometimes difficult to find out what are truly the best apps, the ones that stand out from the rest and offer a tool or service that's far beyond anything else available.

There's a bigger problem to think about here: with over a billion downloads from the App Store it can be a nightmare trying to work out which title is for you.

Research from analytics firm AppAnnie suggests that the average person uses nine apps per day, including the inbuilt options – and on the iPhone, there's more of an onus on creativity.

The issue there is working out what's good for you, and what's superfluous. For instance, there are loads of brilliant weather apps out there, many with cutting-edge features and beautiful interfaces. Or alarm clocks that can connect to the local transport news and wake you earlier if your train is running late.

But they might be no use to you if you look out the window to see how wet it is and always get up in good enough time to never be late for work.

So we've done the hard work for you – checking out what's new and rising up the charts of the App Store each week and cherry picking the best titles to add into our regularly-rotated ranking.

This round-up compiles our favourites, from top-quality creative tools and video editors to the finest productivity kit and social networking clients. 

And in addition to our ongoing list of the absolute best, every week we're adding our picks for the latest and greatest new or updated apps, so check back often.

Even if you don't have an iPhone right now, it's worth reading up on what's available if you're considering investing in the iPhone 7

or even one of the older models (if you need more info, check out our list of the best iPhones) – but note that some of these titles will only work with models from iPhone 5S and later.

  • $4.99/£4.99/$7.99

Comic Zeal is the best comic reader for iPhone. There, we’ve said it. You import comics from cloud libraries or by dragging and dropping them to a special address in your web browser (sadly, there’s no local network drive access), whereupon they’re displayed as a grid or list.

Through slightly fiddly but powerful organizational tools, your collection can be categorized and tagged, making individual issues easy to access later.

The reading experience is the best bit, though. Whether you load a PDF, CBR or CBZ, Comic Zeal quickly renders pages. Page turn animations can be disabled, and you can use ‘assisted panning’ to efficiently read through zoomed pages that would otherwise be unreadable on an iPhone. There’s also a single tap button for switching between single pages and double-page spreads.

Ultimately, comics are still best read on a larger display, but Comic Zeal shows iPhones needn’t be left out when you’re on the move and want your next superhero or indie comic fix.

  • $2.99/£2.99/$4.49

Oilist describes itself as a generational art app. What this means is you feed it an image from Photos, choose a style, and it gets to work, continually repainting your image, like someone’s trapped a tiny van Gogh in your iPhone.

On an iPad’s larger display, there’s a kind of ‘living art’ feel to Oilist, and this surprisingly transfers to the iPhone broadly intact. The strokes are more delicate and intimate, but the effect’s no less hypnotic as Oilist beavers away, painting skies, buildings and faces.

Although Oilist can be left alone in a dock (and you may want to do this if you have it active all day – it’s quite the battery hog), you can also fiddle with the settings at any point, along with taking snapshots to print. Mostly, though, it’s just wonderful to watch – kind of like a painterly lava lamp of sorts, only based on one of your own cherished photographs.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Pennies is all about managing your money. But whereas finance trackers have a tendency to be dry and complicated, Pennies goes for a much friendlier approach. Using the app’s colorful, straightforward interface, you can quickly and easily define new budgets around any kind of topic, and add or remove money from them.

Much of the app’s effectiveness lies in the way it encourages you to categorize your spending. Want to cut down on coffee? Create a ‘coffee’ category and get a monthly and daily budget, along with a visible reminder of when you can next spend.

Your entire history always remains available in an ongoing scrolling list, and because Pennies syncs across devices, your figures are readily available on iPad and Apple Watch too. In short, it’s the budget tracker for the rest of us.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Halide bucks the trend regarding modern iPhone camera apps by doubling down on focus. Its creator argues many rival apps have interfaces like airplane cockpits, and so Halide is deliberately stripped back. There are no modes, and editing is something you do elsewhere. Halide is all about careful photography.

The tools on offer are simply about helping you take better photographs. You can manually adjust focus and exposure. There’s a ‘focus peaking’ overlay, which highlights in red those parts of your prospective snap that have the sharpest contrast. A grid overlay has a central rectangle that turns yellow when your iPhone’s not being held at an angle.

For anyone who wants to slap stickers everywhere, or choose between dozens of photo modes and filters, Halide will feel restrictive. But if you want a simpler, premium-feeling camera app for more considered photography, Halide is money well spent.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Untitled rethinks screenwriting. Rather than you having to remember how to format your next Hollywood blockbuster, Untitled prioritizes you getting ideas down, through providing a helping hand regarding how your script should look.

This works by way of simple-to-remember shorthand, such as placing dialogue underneath a character’s name, or ‘>’ before a transition. The app’s also intelligent enough to reformat scene headers (intro/location/time) from plain English into the correct style.

On iPad, Untitled is a friendly screenwriting tool, but its relaxed, note-taking approach really feels at home on iPhone. It’s not a tool you’d likely use to fine-tune a fully polished screenplay, but it’s excellent for starting one – wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Infltr began life as a photo filter app for people who considered choosing a filter too much effort. Instead, you dragged your finger across the screen, watching as the filter updated live. Simple. Fast. Random.

But this brutally stripped-back approach nudged Infltr towards gimmickry – something its current incarnation addresses by affording you a modicum of additional control. The original functionality still exists – the app nicely going full-screen when you activate it – but there are editing and filter management features too.

Along with adding a filter in the original way, you can select a pre-made option, make basic adjustments, and alter the photo’s crop and skew. All edits are non-destructive, so you can revert or make further changes later, and your settings can be saved as a custom style. The net result is an app that’s evolved from an interesting curio to a must-have iPhone app for photographers.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

With its quippy slogan of ‘get drawn in’, Olli attempts to transform everyday moments from your photos into hand-drawn art.

You get a range of styles, some of which are more effective than others. A few let a little too much of the original image through, resulting in a strange concoction that combines photorealism and sketching. Others, though, work wonderfully, such as the scratchy black and white linework of ‘Salt’.

The app has its own camera, which can take stills or movies, the latter simply requiring you hold the shutter. It can also import directly from Camera Roll, whereupon you get an editor with sliders for brightness, contrast, shading, and detail.

Selecting a style in this mode is weirdly fiddly (you swipe between them, rather than getting the efficient thumbnails found in the camera mode), but otherwise Olli proves to be a usable, effective way of adding art and character to photographs.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

The idea behind Forest is to get you to leave your iPhone alone. It does this by having you plant a tiny sapling and set a timer. If you succeed in not using your iPhone until the timer’s done, you get to plant what’s now a little tree in a virtual forest. If you succumb to temptation, Forest mercilessly kills your tree, leaving a barren little twig.

Amusingly, if you try to trick the app by switching away, it’ll immediately send a terse reminder to have you switch right back. But despite this somewhat gruff element, Forest ranks among the best gamified focus aids.

Over time, it’s rewarding to see your forest grow, unlock new trees, and delve into detailed statistics. Also, using coins earned in-app, you can buy real trees for communities that need them. And all because you avoided Facebook for a few hours.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

You know you’re in for something special with AirPano City Book when you tap the virtual tome on your screen and it flips open to reveal a tiny New York that builds itself before your very eyes. Turn more pages and you get to check out miniature takes on Paris, Barcelona, and more. (A map provides faster access to each location, should you desire that later.)

On selecting a location, you’re treated to gorgeous panoramic photography you can swipe with a finger or explore by moving your iPhone around in front of your face.

We could do without the on-screen watermark, and the city ‘travel guides’ seem a bit tacked on and lightweight (although they do include smart tips, such as ‘best views’, ‘lifehacks’, and places the locals enjoy); but mostly this is a fantastic means of exploring and discovering amazing sights around the world in a new way.

  • $30.99/£29.99/AU$47.99

In a sense, featuring Brian Eno : Reflection in this round-up is a bit weird. Unlike other collaborations between musician Eno and software designer/musician Peter Chilvers, Reflection is broadly devoid of interaction. Instead, it effectively just plays Eno’s ambient Reflection album, but with some clever twists.

Unlike the standard album, which is the same every time you listen, the audio here has phrases and patterns within that continually interact in different ways, and subtly change as the day progresses, creating an endlessly changing version of the music. Likewise, the painterly visual on the screen slowly morphs before your eyes.

It’s pricey, but ultimately gives you endless Eno and is an intoxicating experience for anyone that likes their ambient fare. The man himself describes the app like sitting by a river: it’s the same river, but always changing. By contrast, the standard Reflections album initially sounds similar, but it’s a recording frozen in time, never changing.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

There are plenty of apps that provide access to sunrise and sunset information, but none do so as stylishly as DayLight.

You can either have it figure out your current location, or tap in a specific city. On doing so, you’ll see a large clock covering all 24 hours, and a clear visual indication of when dusks and dawns arrive (and there are three of each: astronomical, nautical, and civil).

In portrait or landscape, DayLight’s great to look at. And although it might seem gimmicky, it has clear practical uses – if you’re a photographer and want to capture a certain kind of light, the best times are clearly visible; and if you like cycling but want to return before it gets dark, DayLight makes it easy to figure out optimal times.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

We’ve lost count of how many currency converters exist on the App Store, but it’s vanishingly rare to see anyone try something properly different.

Elk bucks the trend, with a unique interface and approach that might not appeal to traders, but feels very much like currency conversion for the rest of us.

On firing up the app, you select your two currencies and it offers a list of current rate conversions. For USD to EUR, for example, you get a list of the rates for one through ten dollars. Swiping from the right increases these values by ten. To access rates between two values, tap an entry.

Smartly, you can also input a fixed rate, for example to track your spending on a holiday when you’ve already got your cash. Most of the features are behind a paywall, but a 14-day trial lets you try them for free.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

The iPhone is well-served when it comes to podcast apps, and Pocket Casts has a decidedly premium and feature-rich feel.

Podcast discovery is straightforward, by way of search, charts, trends, networks, and categories. Organization is deftly dealt with, through customizable filters and the ability to download or stream.

Playback is also smart, including a speed boost function, silence-trimming for talky shows, and a volume boost for when listening in a noisy environment.

Naturally, there will be comparisons with Overcast, which is an excellent free app, with a similar feature set. For our money, Pocket Casts nudges ahead in terms of interface and usability, making it worth the outlay.

Pocket Casts also has the advantage of being available on a range of platforms – ideal if you also use Android and want to sync podcast subscriptions and listening progress between all your devices.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

This ambitious app by (ex-King Crimson) musician Adrian Belew is his take on cutting-edge modern music. He reasons that to hold someone’s attention today, music must be quick, surprising and random, making a statement and rapidly moving on.

FLUX by belew very much does that, by way of blasting out sonic snippets and semi-randomized imagery the second you hit play.

The conceit is that you rarely get the same thing twice. Songs appear in different forms, with alternate mixes, lyrics and instrumentation.

Amusingly, one ‘song’ is merely a countdown, introducing whatever comes next. It’s certainly a long way from a traditional album – and all the better for it, showcasing how apps have the potential to revolutionize music.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

What you get out of Space by Thix will likely depend on how you approach the app. If you’re looking for some kind of tool for exploring the cosmos, you need an astronomy app like Sky Guide or Redshift. But if you fancy noodling away at a tiny miniature universe you can build yourself, Space is ideal.

The app doesn’t hand-hold. Instead, you’re left to fend for yourself, figuring out the somewhat opaque interface, and dropping celestial bodies onto the screen. Over time, you figure out how they interact, and that, for example, dumping a massive black hole inside your otherwise happily swirling solar system probably isn’t going to do it much good.

Although flawed – your little planets mostly appear as tiny specs, and navigation is a touch clunky – there’s nonetheless something rather magical about having a tiny galaxy in the palm of your hand.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

You might shudder at the idea of writing on an iPhone, but iA Writer wants to change your mind. This is a smart, svelte writing tool that gets out of your way, but that’s packed full of the features you need for writing on the go.

When tapping away at the keyboard, you get a toolbar with cursor arrows and Markdown formatting buttons (if you want to get more complex your text or use it for HTML).

At the top of the screen sits a word count and reading time prediction. Collapse the keyboard and swipe from the right for a Markdown preview and export options. Swipe the other way to access the iCloud documents list that syncs with iA Writer on other platforms.

There’s a night mode and focus-oriented view options, too, and all of this combines to make for a writing experience perhaps unmatched on iPhone. You still won’t use the app to write a novel, but a few hundred words on an iPhone seems less painful with iA Writer installed.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

There are quite a few apps that attempt to automatically get rid of backgrounds from an image, or have you paint them out with a finger. Exacto, though – as its name might suggest – is all about precision.

Using the pen tool, you tap out a string of blue points on the screen, which map out the outline to mask. Any point’s position can be adjusted by selecting it and then dragging anywhere on the screen. Exacto places black points between the blue points, and these when selected bend the line, so you can create a curve with two blue points rather than dozens.

There’s unlimited undo, project auto-save, and a layers system for multiple selection. And although you might balk at the price for what’s effectively a single-feature app, Exacto is unparalleled at what it does on iPhone, and opens up scope for creative superimpositions and collages when using other creative software.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Focus and burnout are two commonplace issues for people in work. Too often, you can become distracted from tasks; but also there’s the risk of working long hours without a break, leading to fatigue. Focus Keeper aims to deal with both.

The timer is loosely based around the Pomodoro Technique (a time management method), and recommends splitting your time between 25-minute work sprints and five-minute breaks. After four sessions, you take a longer break of about half an hour.

The app is clutter-free, and easy to use. The timer combines a minimal iOS-like design aesthetic with hints of a real-world timer’s dial. You can delve into statistics, adjust work/break lengths, and choose alternate alarm and ‘ticking’ noises. Most importantly, however  much this is all about psychology, it does work. Need convincing? Try the free version first.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

What kind of art do you think you can make from the humble rhombus? That’s the challenge you face when working with Isometric, which is – as its name suggests – designed for creating isometric artwork.

The app is very simple to use – you tap a rhombus to add it to the canvas, and can tap existing ones to rotate them. Shapes can be dragged together to make larger groups, and elements on the canvas can be colored and styled.

Isometric is especially well suited to abstract geometric art, and proves relaxing to use when stressed about the world and its problems.

But with a little planning, you can coax it towards more realistic, ambitious fare. Either way, the canvas can expand to a whopping 2048 x 2048, and you can export your angular masterpieces to Photos – or to vector formats with an additional IAP.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Modern iPhones have some seriously impressive camera hardware, and are capable of taking clean, vibrant shots. So it’s perhaps no surprise that iPhone users are often hell-bent on slathering said images in filters and messing them up.

Mextures is a decidedly extreme example, providing a theoretically unlimited number of layers to play with, each of which can have some kind of effect applied. These include grit, grain, light leaks, gradients, and more.

Because each layer can be fine-tuned in terms of opacity and blend mode, you can get anything from subtle film textures to seriously eye-popping grunge effects.

Hit upon something particularly amazing and you can share your ‘formulas’ with other people. Or if you’re in need of a quick fix, you can grab something that’s already online to overhaul your snaps.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

This camera app has no interest in turning your snaps into miniature Picassos or prints from the 1930s. Instead, Oblique heads for decidedly trippier territory. Its filters distort and stretch what you see in front of you, separating colors, creating kaleidoscopes, or transforming a standard snap into a repeating grid.

Many of these filters are interactive, adding a pleasingly tactile feel to Oblique. Destructive sorts can also take things further, messing around with color, saturation, and contrast levels.

It’d be nice if the process wasn’t quite so final – for example, if you could save a clean shot alongside the distressed one, or import from Photos to muck around with the filters. But even so, Oblique’s a fun, creative app for iPhone photographers bored with the Prismas of this world.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

On the iPad, Graphic resembles a touchscreen take on desktop vector powerhouse Adobe Illustrator. You might think you’d need to be mad to try and squeeze that into an iPhone, but Indeeo has succeeded in fine style.

The app, equally happy in portrait and landscape, is initially set up for vector-based sketching, with you scribbling freehand lines that can subsequently be tweaked and edited. Smartly, the app always lets you know what’s going on under your finger, because Graphic shows that area elsewhere on the screen while you draw.

Delve deeper and you’ll find a shape library, Bézier curves, a layers system and everything else you need to craft illustrations and logos on your iPhone. It can be a touch fiddly at times, but the powerful zoom and general friendliness, of what’s a hugely powerful mobile app, help immeasurably.

  • $12.99/£12.99/AU$19.99

The idea behind Infuse Pro 5 is that you don’t need to rely on iTunes to load video onto your iPhone. Instead, you can stream favorite movies and TV from a local network drive or cloud account.

Furthermore, Infuse will, when necessary, live-convert the footage to make it compatible with iOS. Got a load of MKVs from your ripped home DVDs knocking around? Infuse will make short work of them.

This app also excels regarding its interface. If your files are appropriately named, it will fetch cover art and subtitles. And if you use the app across multiple devices (including Apple TV), progress will sync.

The only snag for some might be the price, but even there, you’re covered to some extent, with a free version of Infuse, which has fewer features and IAP to unlock the rest. At the very least, it’s a great way to try before you buy.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

There are plenty of apps that transform photos into personalized takes on works of art. Printed does something similar, but with vintage printed art. This means you can with a few taps turn a photo of a loved one into something resembling artwork that might once have graced a 1950s postcard or ancient theater poster.

You get a decent selection of filters, along with smartly considered additional tools for adjusting dot pitch, brightness, colors, and borders. These things add a personal touch sometimes missing from this kind of app.

The interface sometimes trips up – edits are weirdly done in a thumbnail overlapping your current image, which makes it hard to see what’s going on until the edit is expanded. But Printed is nonetheless a great buy, especially if the novelty’s gone in turning your photos into pseudo-Munchs and Picassos.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$15.99

You might first look at djay Pro for iPhone and wonder if the developer’s gone a bit mad. You get virtual decks, sliders, and a bunch of buttons – but on an iPhone it looks a little like a DJ set-up for toddlers.

The truth is, you’re probably not going to be banging out your latest set using the app alone – although you can connect it up to a range of hardware and use it as the brains behind a controller.

However, whether you’re a wannabe or pro DJ, djay Pro for iPhone warrants investigation for allowing you to experiment on the go. The app’s hugely powerful and feature-rich (waveforms; four decks; sampler; amusing sound effects; properly clever beat-matching), making it far more than a curiosity or novelty.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99

There are two sides to Hipstamatic. In its ‘native’ form, the app apes old-school point-and-click cameras. You get a tiny viewport inside a virtual plastic camera body, and can swap out lenses, film, and flashes, along with messing about with multiple exposures and manual shutters. It’s pleasingly tactile and twangs your nostalgia gland, but feels a bit cramped.

If you’d rather use your entire iPhone display to show what you’re snapping, you can switch to a ‘pro’ camera mode. That’s closer in nature to Apple’s own Camera, but with Hipstamatic’s huge range of rather lovely filters bolted on – a great mash-up of old and new.

And if you’re wedded to Apple’s camera, Hipstamatic’s still worth a download, given that you can load a photo, slather it in filters, add loads of effects and bask in your creative genius. 

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

This one’s all about ‘points of interest’, hence the name – Poison Maps (‘POIs on maps’). Essentially, it’s a wealth of information from OpenStreetMap shoved into an app and twinned with an interface that makes it a cinch to drill down into categories.

So, mooching about London and fancy a bite to eat? Tap on the food and drink icon. Something quick? Tap Fast Food. Pizza? Sounds good.

Each tap filters the POIs and navigation buttons displayed, and arrows point at nearby locations when you’re zoomed in. Everything’s extremely responsive, and the maps and icons are clear and easy to read. Other nice bits include a full-screen mode, a search function, and public transport overlays.

The only snag is Poison Maps is a gargantuan 1.2GB install; if that’s a bit rich, smaller regional alternatives by the same developer exist, each being a free download with a small IAP to unlock all categories.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

The eighth release in the popular educational Explorer app library, Space by Tinybop is all about exploring the cosmos, fiddling about with the major components of the solar system.

On creating a profile, you launch a little spaceship, choose a planet, and start messing around, with an emphasis on play rather than dry facts and figures. To compare the mass of planets, you pop them on a weighing scale. Size comparisons are done by dropping planets into adjacent circles, whereupon they resize accordingly.

Elsewhere, you can peek inside celestial bodies, but the app would sooner have you hurl a piano into Jupiter’s Great Red Spot storm, just to see what will happen.

So this isn’t the place to learn that Saturn takes over 29 years to journey around the Sun; but Space is the kind of app that might whet appetites to the point those using it want to find out more.

  • $8.99/£8.99/AU$13.99

If you’ve got yourself a resident tiny human, your house probably has a few of those wooden puzzles where letter shapes are shoved into their respective slots. Endless Alphabet isn’t quite, well, endless, but contains dozens of such puzzles, which work brilliantly on the touchscreen.

On your child selecting a word, monsters sprint along the bottom of the screen, scattering its letters. They then need to be dragged back into place, coming to life as they’re moved. When a word’s complete, monsters act out what it means in a charming animated cut scene.

There are some minor grumbles here and there – the app’s resolutely US-English in nature, and the sounds letters make when dragged might confuse, since they’re not full letters nor the phonics often used in education. Otherwise, this is a first-rate, charming, enjoyable educational app for youngsters getting to grips with words.

  • $14.99/£14.99/AU$22.99

The idea of tapping out your next novel on an iPhone might seem mad, but if you’re armed with an iPhone Plus and a small portable keyboard, why not add to your potential bestseller when you’ve the odd spare moment?

Storyist is designed to transform your iPhone into a powerful writing environment. Efficiency is the app’s watchword from the off, with excellent templates that provide a document structure ready for input, including example pages so you can see how things work.

When typing away, you’ll appreciate the custom keyboard bar that makes it a cinch to navigate on-screen and adjust text styles. Impressively, the app also integrates the kind of index cards seen in Scrivener (but absent from its iPhone version), so you can get a high-level view of your work, and quickly rearrange your story whenever needed.
 

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

You need an awful lot of patience to produce a stop-motion masterpiece, but it helps if you’re armed with an app like Stop Motion Studio Pro.

The main plus with the app is its flexibility: you can use its own camera to add new frames, bring in pre-shot images from Camera Roll, or even import video footage that is then automatically chopped up into a bunch of stills.

During editing, you also get plenty of options. Frames can be copied and pasted, and audio added – which intelligently plays until completion (rather than cutting off once a new frame is played), so multiple effects can be overlaid.

The app perhaps stretches a little too far in claiming to offer ‘rotoscoping’ – that is, drawing over frames for a result akin to A Scanner Darkly – due to the related tools being too basic and fiddly.

But for taking your first steps towards becoming the next Aardman, Stop Motion Studio Pro fits the bill.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Head back to the 1980s and pixel art was just, well, art. Computer graphics were chunky due to technological limitations, not because of the aesthetic desires of creatives. Nonetheless, for a mix of reasons – nostalgia, primarily – pixel art remains popular in illustration and videogames.

On iPhone, Pixure is a great app for dabbling with pixel art. Along with prodding individual pixels using a pencil tool, there’s a neat flood fill option and shape tools too. Layers provide scope for more complex art, as does the option to import an image from elsewhere as a starting point.

There’s no lock-in either: you can export to a range of formats to share your miniature masterpiece, or work on it further elsewhere.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

There’s no denying the quality of the filters in the free Prism app, which quickly transforms photos into painterly artwork. However, the app can be slow to render (especially with video), and only makes the full selection of its filters available when you’re online. Visionn is a more premium take on the concept and, importantly, its filters all work wherever you are.

This means that whether you fire up Visionn’s built-in camera or work with existing photos and videos, you can swipe between filters and instantly see their effect.

The actual filters are or varying quality and not quite up to Prism’s in terms of aping real-world styles. But ‘animated sketch’ Hawthorne is superb, and we also loved using Belmont, which makes snaps akin to canvases with oil paint thickly applied.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

For many people, Overcast is king of the podcast apps, but Castro has a key feature that could find it ousting the aforementioned favorite from many home screens: episode triage.

In use, the system works a lot like email: new podcasts show up in your inbox, you fling those you’re interested in to the top or bottom of a queue, and dump the rest in a searchable archive. For those podcasts where you must listen to every episode, they can be queued by default.

This is smart, saving you time and effort, and the archive works brilliantly, too, providing speedy access to older episodes.

Elsewhere, Castro is perhaps more ordinary, with functional podcast discovery, a dull playback interface, and basic effects that don’t match Overcast’s voice boost and smart speed. But for managing and prioritizing what you listen to, Castro can’t be beaten. 

  • Free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 IAP

A playground for GIFs, ImgPlay aims to bring life to whatever you capture with your iPhone – or to fine-tune the motion within those things that already move.

You start off by loading pretty much anything from your Camera Roll: photos, videos, Burst mode images, Live Photos, or GIFs. With stills, you can select a number of them to stitch together, essentially making ImgPlay a kind of low-end stop-motion tool.

But it’s with Live Photos and Burst shots that ImgPlay really becomes interesting. You can take the video or sequence of images your iPhone shoots, trim the result (including removing individual frames), add a filter and text, and then export the lot as a GIF or video.

For free, the app’s full-featured, but buy the small IAP and you get more filters, no ads, and no watermark on export.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

One of the things the iPad’s been really great at – with the right app installed – is making science approachable. But Stephen Hawking’s Pocket Universe is, in many ways, more ambitious than iPad tomes.

That’s because it attempts to bring accessibility to Stephen Hawking’s phenomenal work on mind-bending topics such as space-time and the expanding universe – and squeeze everything into the much smaller screen of an iPhone.

Given such weighty subject matter, this is a surprisingly friendly digital book, broken down into easily digestible, bite-sized sections. Throughout, the app playfully animates, filling your screen with color and using illustration to aid understanding of the text.

Naturally, there’s still the possibility of bafflement, but the app helpfully tracks what you’ve read, and is perfect brain food for filling journeys on the bus in a manner mindlessly scrolling through social feeds can never hope to compete with.

  • $0.99/99p/AU$1.49

The burst mode in Apple’s camera app is designed to get you the perfect photo in tricky situations. If you’ve a fast-moving subject – or are snapping someone who blinks a lot – you hold the shutter, very rapidly take loads of photos, and later select the best.

But in capturing anything up to dozens of photos, there’s potential to do something with those you’d usually discard. Burstio is all about turning such images into animations.

Launch the app and you see your burst photos as little film strips, each detailing the number of images within. Select a burst and you can trim the series, adjust playback speed, and alter playback direction.

Your edit can then be exported to video or GIF. The process is elegant and simple, and brings new life to images you’d otherwise never use.

  • $7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99

You can of course use a wide range of apps for storing real-world scribbles – photograph a journal page and you can fling it at the likes of Evernote, say. But Carbo tries something more ambitious. Your sketches and notes are cleaned up, and converted to vectors, while preserving your original stroke.

What this means is that images within Carbo retain the character of your penmanship, but are also editable in a manner standard photographs are not – you can select and move specific elements that Carbo intelligently groups, adjust line thicknesses throughout the entire image, add annotations and tags, and export the result to various formats.

It’s a friendly, intuitive app to work with, and efficient, too – a typical Carbo note requires only a tenth of the storage as the same image saved as a standard JPEG photo.

  • Free + from $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

As a free app, Ferrite Recording Studio is mightily impressive – a kind of beefed-up Voice Memos, which lets you bookmark bits of recordings to refer to later, and then edit and combine multiple recordings in a multi-track editor view.

But when you pay for Ferrite, it becomes a fully-fledged podcast creation studio on your iPhone.

First and foremost, in-app purchases remove track and project length limits. This affords much greater scope for complex projects, which can have loads of overlaying tracks and potentially be hours in length.

The paid release also adds a range of professional effects, which can help transform your project by making the audio cleaner and more engaging.

But whether you pay or not, Ferrite’s usable, intuitive interface should make it a tempting go-to tool for amateur podcasters, even if they’re also armed with a PC or Mac.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

From a functionality standpoint, Living Earth is a combination clock/weather app. You define a bunch of cities to track, and switch between them to see current time, weather conditions, and when the sun’s going to make an appearance and vanish for the day.

Tapping the forecast quickly loads an outlook for the entire week; prod the clock and you’ll get the weather and time in each of your defined locations.

What sets Living Earth apart, though, is the globe at the screen’s centre. This provides a live view of the planet’s weather – clouds, by default, which can be swapped for temperature, wind and humidity.

We like the clouds most, along with the way the virtual planet can be slowly spun with the slightest swipe. It’ll then lazily rotate between zones in daylight and those lit up after night has fallen.

  • $0.99/99p/AU$1.49

Apple offers a burst mode when you hold down the shutter in its camera app, but this is for very rapidly taking many shots in quick succession, in order to select the best one.

By contrast, SoSoCamera is about documenting a lengthier slice of time, taking a series of photos over several seconds and then stitching them together in a grid.

The grid’s size maxes out at 48 items and can be fashioned however you like. It’s then just a question of selecting a filter, prodding the camera button, and letting SoSoCamera perform its magic.

The resulting images, while low-res in nature, nicely capture the feel of time passing, in many cases better than video; although do experiment first with the filters, because some are a bit too eye-searing.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

With virtual assistants like Siri, technology companies are betting hard on a hands-free, voice-controlled future for software. But eyes-free is also an interesting area of exploration. LeechTunes is designed for controlling music playback without you looking at your iPhone, largely by utilising the entire display for gestural input.

This kind of interaction can be handy when driving – skip a track by quickly swiping the screen of a docked iPhone; it’s also useful when exercising (or anywhere noisy), since you can switch playlists without talking to or looking at your iPhone.

The app provides 15 configurable options in all, and there’s also a handy sleep timer buried away in the settings. One niggle is you’ll need to fire up tunes in Music if you don’t have files stored on your iPhone, but LeechTunes can subsequently ably take over.

  • Free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 unlock

We often write about apps that are ambitious and push the iPhone to its limits, but there’s also a lot to be said for focus. And if there’s one thing that can be said about Tally 2, it’s that it’s focused. The app is a counting aid. Create a new tally, tap the screen and the number increments.

If that was all you got, you’d feel a bit ripped off. Fortunately, Tally 2 provides the means to have multiple tallies on the go (two in the free version; an unlimited number once you buy the one-off IAP), and these can be displayed and interacted with simultaneously, either within the app itself or inside Notification Center.

Smartly, each can also be customized, with a unique name, an initial value, a step value, a direction (as in, counting up or down), and whether it should be displayed in Tally 2’s widget.

  • $19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99

On the desktop, Scrivener is popular with writers crafting long-form text. On iPad, the app is – amazingly – barely altered from the PC and Mac release; but Scrivener on iPhone is a slightly different prospect.

That’s not to say this isn’t a feature-rich and highly capable product. You still get a solid rich-text editing environment and a ‘binder’ to house and arrange documents and research, before compiling a manuscript for export.

What you lose on the smaller screen is those features that require more space: a two-up research/writing view; the corkboard for virtual index cards.

But Scrivener is still worth buying – although you’re unlikely to write an entire screenplay or novel on an iPhone, you can use the app to take notes, make edits, and peruse your existing work, wherever you happen to be.

  • Free

There’s something of a Harry Potter vibe about Live Photos on iOS, and it’s fun to see a still image spring to life when you hold it, offering extra context and a snatch of audio. Ultimately, though, they are a gimmick, and one it’s easy to tire of; which is where Motion Stills comes in.

Google’s app reframes Live Photos in a number of useful ways. You can browse your entire feed, and isolate individual shots to fiddle with settings that showcase how much difference the stabilization makes. (A lot, as it turns out.)

Even better, there are tools for edit and export, so you can transform a Live Photo into a looping back-and-forth GIF to post online, or combine several into a short movie. Really, this is an app Apple should have produced; it’s ironic – but also terrific – that Google’s the one to bring extra life to Live Photos.

  • Free

If you like the idea of editing home movies but find the thought daunting or lack time, try Quik. The app essentially automates the entire process, enabling you to create beautiful videos with a few taps.

All you need do is select some videos and photos, and choose a style. Quik then edits them into a great-looking video you can share with friends and family. But if your inner Spielberg hankers for a little more control, you can adjust the style, music, format and pace, along with trimming clips, reordering items, and adding titles.

Cementing its friendly nature, Quik offers a little pairs minigame for you to mess about with while the app renders your masterpiece. And there’s even a weekly ‘For You’ video Quik compiles without you lifting a finger.

  • Free

We’ve seen quite a few apps that try to turn your photos into art, but none hit the spot quite like Prisma. The app is almost disarmingly simple to use: shoot or select a photo, crop your image, and choose an art style (options range from classic paintings through to comic book doodling).

The app within a few seconds then transforms your photo into a miniature Picasso or Munch.

On trying Prisma with a range of imagery, we found it almost never comes up with a duff result. But if you find the effects a bit jarring, a slide of your finger can soften your chosen filter prior to sharing your masterpiece online.

Our only criticism is the app’s low-res output, making Prisma pics only suitable for screen use.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

On iOS, astronomy apps tend to be about gazing from Earth to the heavens, but Cosmic-Watch instead has you peering at the Earth and explore its relationship with time and the cosmos.

The default view is a clock that surrounds the planet like Saturn’s rings. You can pinch and drag to zoom and spin the planet, and the app enables you to save multiple locations to snap to via a tap. Elsewhere, you can overlay constellations and astral charts, and experiment with a digital model of the solar system.

A neat additional feature is time travel. Tap the clock icon and you can fast-forward your view. This is particularly lovely in the model, which when running sufficiently quickly (say, a month per second) leaves wiggly trailing paths from planets as they make their way around the sun.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Coming across like a simplified social take on Lego, Tayasui Blocks is all about building objects and sharing them online. The toolset is simple but versatile, making it a cinch to stack and color blocks, along with viewing your creation from any angle.

And if you get bored, you can smother your object in stickers or attack it with a wide range of weapons.

The online bit works especially well, providing speedy access to a huge range of existing constructions that you can download and experiment with. (Smartly, you can’t reupload these unless the app deems you’ve made sufficient changes.)

On smaller iOS devices, the app is perhaps a touch fiddly at times, but you don’t need the acres of an iPad to thoroughly enjoy digital building blocks.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Apps are transforming the way many people learn to play instruments. Capo touch is a case in point, attempting to simplify the process of figuring out songs loaded on to your iPhone.

At its most basic, Capo will slow down a song without changing its pitch, along with looping user-defined sections, thereby helping you figure out riffs and chord progressions. You can also tweak the settings to try and isolate important instruments.

The magical bit, though, is chord detection, which tries to supply chords for any song you load. Capo doesn’t always succeed, but during testing we found its hit rate was fairly high, and whenever it errs, you can always replace Capo’s choice with an alternative.

  • $0.99/99p/AU$1.49

The idea behind WiFi Priority is a simple one, dealing with a shortcoming within iOS itself. If you’ve multiple networks accessible to you, your iPhone may sometimes automatically join the wrong one – and there’s no way of creating a custom order for known networks.

This can be infuriating and require regular trips to Settings to put things right. All WiFi priority does is let you select and sign into a network and then block it from auto-join. (You can still connect manually via Settings, note.)

The app could be a bit more modern (it has a zoomed view on iPhones larger than a 5) and friendly (removing a setting requires you to delete a profile from Settings > General > Profile), but it does the job it sets out to do ably, dealing with an irksome iOS issue Apple appears oddly reluctant to fix.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

There are loads of camera apps for iPhone, broadly offering the same kind of pro-level controls: manual focus and ISO; white balance; zoom; levels; filters; grids. Obscura Camera is in this respect more of the same, but what makes it worthy of consideration is its really smart interface.

Next to the shutter are big ‘expose’ and ‘focus’ buttons, for locking each feature. Above, chunky ISO and shutter buttons beg to be tapped, and can be quickly swapped out for a raft of other controls. Want a different filter? Just swipe across the main viewfinder area.

The result is an iPhone camera that boasts the kinds of features its rivals have, but that obliterates them in terms of usability. It’s a properly one-thumb-controllable app, focussed on quick access to features, dispensing with the needlessly fiddly controls found in many of its contemporaries.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

The idea of buying an app based on Google’s Street View might seem bizarre, given that Street View is integrated into the entirely free Google Maps. And yet there’s something oddly compelling about Streets 3. Accessing Street View using this app is simpler and faster than in Google Maps, as is changing your position on the overhead map and viewing coverage.

Beyond this, Streets 3 has several other handy features. It identifies as a navigation app, and so can be a kind of surrogate Street View for Apple’s Maps. You get information about a selected location, along with a list of ‘gallery’ places to check out. These include city sites, monuments, and actual galleries, for partaking in a little virtual tourism.

Moving about in the 3D mapping environment’s a bit jerkier than in Google Maps, and gallery places are weirdly arbitrarily ordered. Still, there’s a search for the latter, and any other niggles are countered by the genuinely useful and entertaining nature of Streets 3 as a whole.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Using a phone while driving is not a smart thing to do. Even when your iPhone’s parked in a dock, app interfaces are typically too fiddly to use without your eye straying from the road for far too long. This is where Open Road comes in.

The app enables you to create a custom screen of big tappable buttons that trigger important actions, such as firing up a favourite playlist or calling a specific contact.

It also boasts a number of eyes-free gestural commands, voice control (occasionally flaky, but useful when it works), a car finder (so you don’t lose your car when parking somewhere new), and a drive recorder, in case you’re involved in an accident.

In a sense, Open Road is a veritable grab-bag of car-oriented goodies, all wrapped up in a clean, efficient interface that ensures the app is best-in-class.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Apple’s built-in Music app has increasingly sidelined personal collections, instead heavily focussing on the Apple Music streaming service. Cesium is a player designed to help you enjoy your existing music library once again.

The interface marries old-school functionality with modern iOS design, offering tabs to quickly access artists, albums, songs and playlists.

Mostly, though, Cesium is great at providing the features music fans want: you can quickly edit and add to an upcoming queue; library sort options enable you to switch between alphabetical and chronological lists; and the landscape mode is just like the portrait mode but in widescreen, rather than trying (and failing) to do something ‘clever’.

So if you’re after a music player for iPhone that’s tasteful, smart, full-featured and free of gimmicks, buy Cesium.

  • From free

There are quite a few apps that let you add text to images, but whenever we stray, Over always manages to drag us back. The app’s playful interface is fun to work with, but also it’s quite powerful. Import a photo and you can overlay multiple layers of text, artwork and further images, all of which can be edited and rearranged at any point.

This isn’t an app for super-crazy adjustments, though. Instead, it’s focussed and classy — perfect for adding some beautiful typography with a subtle drop shadow, thereby creating a birthday card, watermarking a favourite photo, or fashioning wallpapers with text for a loved one.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Apple ships Voice Memos with iOS, but Just Press Record goes one better, rethinking simple iPhone recording by adding automated sync. The app is mostly a huge button, along with a list that gives you access to previously saved recordings.

Beyond this, the iPhone release bundles a great Apple Watch app, which makes it a cinch to record from your wrist, even when your iPhone’s not around. The next time the devices connect, your Apple Watch recordings seamlessly upload.

A Mac version is also available, which enables you to sync and play back your iPhone recordings on the desktop. But Just Press Record isn’t a closed system — you can share any recording made on your iPhone to the likes of Mail or Dropbox.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$5.99

In these days of flashy news apps like Flipboard, old-school RSS readers get something of a bad reputation. But there's something really handy about subscribing to your favourite sites, and knowing you'll get every article delivered in chronological order, for you to pick through at leisure.

On the iPhone, Reeder 3 remains an excellent app for browsing and reading feeds. The interface is straightforward, and a built-in Readability view enables you to quickly load the text and images from feeds that only otherwise supply you with brief synopses.

If you've got an iPhone that supports 3D Touch, you can use that for article previews in the articles list.

  • From free

We're told coding is vital, assuming you want to get ahead in the world; but for newcomers, learning to code is akin to grappling with a foreign language. Lrn aims to ease you in, through a cleverly constructed series of interactive quizzes.

The bite-sized material is friendly and assumes no prior knowledge, yet there's enough depth to give you the basics in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby and Python. Over 400 mini quizzes are unlocked in the free download; for $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 a pop, you can buy the full JavaScript, Ruby and Python courses.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

We know: you’d love to workout more often, but you lack the time and equipment. Streaks Workout scowls in your general direction and points out you just need it and an iPhone to become the brilliant version of you that you’ve always dreamed of.

The idea isn’t to have you become some kind of CrossFit superstar, merely to do a workout per day, even if it’s quick.

You select exercises from a list, avoiding those you don’t like, and sessions randomly use up to six of them. Said sessions last from six to thirty minutes. We thought the last of those being titled ‘pain’ was amusing until we tried it and discovered that moniker is quite accurate.

But whether you’re going for a short burst or long haul, Streaks Workout does the business. Icons are bold, and it’s easy to track what you’ve done at any given time. The need to have the screen visible and tap it after each exercise irks a bit – there’s no voice control – but you can at least catch your breath while prodding the display to cue up your next slice of hell.

And while this app’s randomness won’t suit those who demand very structured exercise routines, it’s great if you want something fresh each day to get you into the habit of regular exercise – which is kind of the point.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Something that’s starting to grate about camera apps is they want to be everything. They bombard you with features and filters to the point they’re all looking very samey. SKRWT bucks the trend with an almost razor-sharp focus – it exists to fix problems in iPhone photography caused by the wide-angle lens sitting inside your device.

For the most part, then, SKRWT is all about dealing with lens distortion. With a single swipe, you can correct horizontal and vertical perspective distortion, or eradicate extreme effects from images taken using a fisheye lens or GoPro.

Elsewhere, vignettes can be added or removed, and auto-cropping attempts (mostly successfully) to give you a nicely finished photo that takes into account your various edits.

This isn’t the most immediate of apps, but learn how to use SKRWT’s tools and you’ll discover it’s hugely effective at making seemingly subtle changes to digital snaps that make a world of difference, especially with cityscapes.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

On using Deliveries for any length of time, you get the sense it’s overkill, but it’s a glorious kind of overkill. Essentially, it’s a package tracker that supports a wide range of services. Give it details and it’ll keep an eye on where your packages are and when delivery will be.

But Deliveries goes far beyond the basics. There are maps that show your item’s path to your door (a special kind of geeky fun with kit that ships from halfway around the globe), Notification Center support, the means to share to deliveries from emails in Mail, and even Peek and Pop on newer iPhones, for peeking at delivery details without fully opening items in the main list.

If you only order something once in a blue moon, you perhaps won’t get much value from this app. But if you’re often having cardboard boxes of joy show up at your doorstep, Deliveries is well worth the investment.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Photoshop is so ingrained in people’s minds when it comes to image editing that it’s become a verb. Oddly, though, Adobe’s largely abandoned high-end mobile apps, choosing instead to create simpler ‘accessories’ for the iPhone and iPad, augmenting rather than aping its desktop products. Valiantly filling the void is Pixelmator, a feature-rich and truly astonishing mobile Photoshop.

It’s packed full of tools and adjustment options, and works well whether you’re into digital painting or creating multi-layered photographic masterpieces. On iPhone, Pixelmator’s naturally a bit cramped compared to using the app on iPad, but at the price it remains an insanely great bargain.

  • Free

Snapseed is Google’s own photo editor that’s been designed from the ground up to make tweaking your snaps as easy and fun as possible on a touchscreen device.

Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there’s also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you’ve taken on your smartphone or tablet.

  • Free

It's no secret just how badly Apple's own mapping app performs, although it has got better post-iOS 6.

Fortunately, Google Maps is a free download, and a far better solution than the old Google Maps app as well, thanks to the inclusion of turn-by-turn navigation and – in some cities – public transport directions. It's an easy way to supercharge your iPhone's mapping capabilities and one of the first apps you should grab for the iPhone 7.

  • $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99

The vast majority of iPhones in Apple’s line-up don’t have a massive amount of storage, and that becomes a problem when you want to keep videos on your device.

Air Video HD gets around the problem by streaming video files from any Mac or PC running the free server software. All content is live-encoded as necessary, ensuring it will play on your iPhone, and there’s full support for offline viewing, soft subtitles, and AirPlay to an Apple TV.

Perhaps the best bit about the software is how usable it is. The app’s simple to set up and has a streamlined, modern interface – for example, a single tap downloads a file for local storage. You don’t even need to be on the same network as your server either – Air Video HD lets you access your content over the web. Just watch your data downloads if you’re on a limited cellular plan!

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

On the iPad, one of the best things about Procreate is its smart, efficient interface that gets out of your way as you’re working on your next digital masterpiece. If anything, this design ethos is even more successful in Procreate Pocket on the iPhone.

Across the top of the screen is the toolbar, providing fast access to brushes, smudging, an eraser, layers, and adjustment tools. At the screen edges are two handles for quickly changing the size and opacity of your brush.

Although the kind of app actual artists are likely to get the most out of, Procreate’s friendliness is such that it’s a great place to start dabbling in digital painting. You can even record the creation of your masterpiece and share it as a 1080p video.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

If you've seen tiny humans around iOS devices, you'll have noticed that even those that can't speak beyond bababababa and dadadadada nonetheless merrily swipe and poke at the screens Metamorphabet capitalises on this ingrained infatuation with shiny touchscreens, and cunningly attempts to teach the alphabet via the medium of surreal interactive animations.

It starts off with A, which when poked grows antlers, transforms into an arch and goes for an amble. Although a few words are a stretch too far (wafting clouds representing a daydream, for example), this is a charming, imaginative and beautifully designed app.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Pre-conceived ideas about what an app should be can stifle innovation, and so it’s interesting to see Proud cheerily elude the drudge-like appointment-making evident in most list-based organisers.

Instead, you figure out what you want to do (adding sub-tasks as appropriate), assign vague deadlines (‘tomorrow’, ‘next week’) for your more pressing tasks, and gleefully mark things as done when they’re completed.

Fittingly, the app splits its workflow into three distinct tabs: Lists, Reminders and History. Pleasingly, each has a hidden ‘superpower’ mini-app to further improve your life.

Lists offers a breathing exercise for reducing stress; Reminders has a Pomodoro timer and utterly brilliant ‘give me more time’ button that shunts every task with a due date on a few hours, a day, or a week; and History delves into your completed tasks, so you can see what you achieved weeks or months ago.

If you live and die on traditional calendars, where every hour must be accounted for, Proud isn’t for you. But if your life is a touch more vague or relaxed regarding scheduling, Proud will take advantage to the point you’ll consider it as revolutionary as when you first experienced a digital calendar.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Elsewhere in this list we mention apps that can be used to add text to a photo. However, this process is a bit fiddly on even the biggest iPhones, and many people just want to somehow instantly make something that looks fantastic. If that’s you, Retype is a must-download.

You open a photo (only from your local images as, for reasons beyond us, iCloud shared albums are not supported), type some text, and tap a style. Immediately, you get something resembling a finely-crafted poster. If you’re not keen on the layout, keep tapping the style button until you get something you like.

Although Retype is more about automation than customisation, that doesn’t mean it’s bereft of further options.

You can change the text’s colour and opacity, adjust the photo’s filter, fade and blur, and also have your image appear inside the text, rather than the text being an overlay.

It’s a pity there are no cropping tools — although countless other apps exist for performing such edits, being able to quickly change an image’s aspect ratio within Retype would be useful. That niggle aside, this is a fast, effective and entertaining app that’s perfectly suited to iPhone.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

If you’ve been around young children for any length of time, there’s no escaping The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

That greedy larva seems to hypnotise tiny people, gluing them to whatever format it appears in, be it book or TV animation. There have been apps, too, but those we’ve seen before have disappointed. My Very Hungry Caterpillar, though, is a new take on the character, turning it into a kind of virtual pet.

Children familiar with the source material will watch happily as fruit they pluck from trees is quickly munched by the wriggly protagonist, but this app has far more to offer.

Gradually, it opens up all kinds of activities, such as growing a garden, playing with a ball, making art by getting messy with paints, and having fun on a pond. The app changes with the seasons, and so in winter the caterpillar gets to gleefully slide across frozen water, but in warmer months goes sailing.

It’s all very charming and adorable, along with being entirely without risk — there’s no way to off the little blighter. It’s also finite: the little caterpillar grows fat and eventually becomes a butterfly, at which point a new egg appears to start the cycle again.

And if we’re being honest, there’s something quite cathartic in seeing the little chap through this journey, to the point we imagine quite a few adults will sneakily launch the app for a while when their child’s asleep.

  • $39.99/£38.99/AU$62.99

Let’s immediately get one thing out of the way: Korg Gadget isn’t cheap. It’s not the sort of app you’re going to download for some larks, use for a few minutes, and then casually toss aside. However, if you’ve any interest in making music — whether as a relative newcomer or jobbing musician — it is quite simply the best app available for iPhone.

Purely as a tool for live performance, Korg’s app is first-rate. You get a bunch of miniature synths, referred to as ‘gadgets’; they’re geared towards electronic music, but still have plenty of range.

There are drum machines, a gorgeous bell synth, some ear-smashing bass instruments, and plenty of other options, whether you want to be the Human League for a bit or go all clubby.

Each synth comes with a slew of presets, but you can fiddle with dials and levers to make your own, which can be saved for later use.

When it comes to writing music, you can record live, tapping out notes on a tiny on-screen keyboard or by using a connected piece of hardware. Alternatively, there’s a piano roll for tapping out notes on a grid as you do in GarageBand, creating loops to then combine into a song in the mixing-desk view.

Korg Gadget is one of the most flexible and intuitive music-making apps we’ve seen on any platform, and the deepest on iOS. It was superb on the iPad, but that it actually works — and is very usable — on iPhone is nothing short of astonishing.

  • Free + IAP

The idea behind Auxy is to get more people using their iPhones to make music. It does this by subtly rethinking the interface for composing on the go, resulting in an app approachable enough for beginners but boasting enough power for pros.

You start with a blank grid, split into four tracks (one for drums, and the others for bass or lead instruments), each of which has 16 loops. Loop editing is simply a question of 'drawing' notes on to a piano roll grid, much like you do in GarageBand; only Auxy's playhead moves vertically, recognising the fact iPhones are usually used in portrait.

This precision control removes the frustration found in other iPhone music-making apps, which force you to record live. And the more you explore, the more features you'll find: longer loops; the means to adjust instrument characteristics just by fiddling with some sliders; saving a loop arrangement to an audio file by tapping loops live; and MIDI export for sending to a desktop app the notes you've painstakingly tapped out.

Auxy Studio feels almost like a halfway house between Figure and GarageBand, and from a music-making perspective, it's just as good as either of those iOS classics.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

For most kids, plastic keyboards and annoyingly loud toy drums are a typical starting point in music, but Loopimal ambitiously attempts to introduce children to the concept of computer sequencing. Fortunately, it does so by way of highly animated dancing cartoon animals, bright shapes, and plenty of flair.

Hit play and you’re immediately shown an animal bobbing its head to a backing track. You then drag coloured pieces (from a selection of five) into eight empty slots. When the playhead moves over the shapes, the animal adds its own sounds and melodies, often while performing impressive gymnastic feats.

It’s Loopimal’s character that initially wins you over. Unless you’re dead inside, you won’t fail to crack a smile when an octopus starts playing funky basslines with its tentacles, or the percussive Yeti gets all stompy. Smartly, once the player clocks how Loopimal works, the screen can be split into two or four, to combine animals and their unique sounds.

The one big miss is the inability to save your compositions, but every Loopimal riff is in C-major; this means you can use just the white notes on nearby keyboards to play along with whatever madness is happening inside the app.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

Traditional calculator apps are fine, but even if they come with digital tape, you don’t get figures in context. By contrast, a spreadsheet is overkill for most adding-up tasks. Soulver is a neatly conceived half-way house — like scribbling sums on the back of an envelope, but a magic envelope that tots everything up.

You get two columns. On the left, you type everything out, integrating words as you see fit. On the right, totals are smartly extracted. So if you type ‘Hotel: 3 nights at $125’, Soulver will automatically display $375 in the totals column.

Line totals can be integrated into subsequent sums, ensuring your entire multi-line calculation remains dynamic — handy should you later need to make adjustments to any part.

Given the relative complexity of what Soulver’s doing, it all feels surprisingly intuitive from the get-go. There are multiple keyboards (including advanced functions and currency conversion), you can save calculations and sync them via iCloud or Dropbox, and it’s even possible to output HTML formatted emails of your work.

  • Free

Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. It's also cross-platform, meaning it will work with Windows and Android.

And since 1Password is a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and efficient. The core app is free – the company primarily makes its money on the desktop. However, you’ll need a monthly subscription or to pay a one-off $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 IAP to access advanced features (multiple vaults, Apple Watch support, tagging, and custom fields).

  • Free + $7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99 IAP

There are two flavours of Scanbot, each of which is impressive in its own right. For free, you get a superb iPhone scanner with cloud storage integration, QR code support, and the means to detect edges for any paper document you want to digitise. Upgrade to Scanbot Pro and things get more interesting. You can add pages to existing scans, quickly name files using a clever smart-naming system, and search/extract text from previous scans.

There’s also an automated actions feature, where the app finds the likes of phone numbers and email addresses within your scans, turning them into single-tap buttons within each item’s actions menu. It’s not quite accurate enough to be witchcraft, but we nonetheless happily leave important scans within Scanbot these days, rather than immediately deleting after export.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

There may come a time in the distant future when Twitter's own app is our favourite (or Twitter bans third party clients entirely), but until then, there's Tweetbot. This latest version builds on its predecessor, with an elegant interface fit for iOS underpinned by plenty of power-user features.

There's a landscape mode and a second column for iPhone 6S/7 Plus users, granular mute settings, support for optional content blockers in the browser view, and new Activity and Statistics tabs. Twitter might greedily block access to a handful of its newest toys, but Tweetbot's efficiency and power means we won't defect just yet.

  • Free with new devices or $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

When Apple first brought its office apps to iPad, they were an impressive attempt to perform complex tasks on a glass screen. Squeezing them down to iPhone seemed nigh-on impossible, and yet Numbers in particular survives intact.

Naturally, there’s quite a bit of zooming and swiping to do if your spreadsheet has plenty of rows and columns, but data entry can be relatively painless and surprisingly rapid by way of custom forms.

Unsurprisingly, Apple would very much like you to use Numbers everywhere and sync by way of iCloud, but you can also export to CSV, PDF or Microsoft Excel, along with flinging completed documents to cloud storage providers such as Dropbox.

  • Free

Should you find yourself in one of the supported cities (including Paris, London, New York and Berlin), you’ll be grateful to have Citymapper on your iPhone — assuming you don’t want to get lost.

The app finds where you are and then gets you from A to B, whether you want to walk, grab a taxi, or use public transport (for which live times are provided).

  • Free

There are plenty of solutions for transferring content between your computer and iPhone, including Apple's increasingly popular iCloud. Dropbox is still worth using, though. It has great cross-platform clients, integrates with iOS's Share sheets, and has direct support in many iOS apps.

Check out our essential tips for every Dropbox user.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

If there’s one thing that’s sorely lacking in the majority of weather apps, it’s a malevolent AI that’s seeking the destruction of all humankind, and in the meantime gleefully revels in you getting soaked in a downpour.

CARROT Weather still gives you a pretty accurate indication of what’s going to happen, though, given that it’s powered by Dark Sky tech; but rather than getting all po-faced and technical, it’ll instead laugh that you’re in for weather hell, while showing a picture of cows being hurled across the screen in a gale.

Secret locations are there for discovery as well, which is handy if you’re desperate to know whether you need sunscreen when visiting Tatooine. (Hint: you really, really do.)

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

There are quite a few apps for virtual stargazing, but Sky Guide is the best of them on iOS. Like its rivals, the app allows you to search the heavens in real-time, providing details of constellations and satellites in your field of view (or, if you fancy, on the other side of the world).

Indoors, it transforms into a kind of reference guide, offering further insight into distant heavenly bodies, and the means to view the sky at different points in history. What sets Sky Guide apart, though, is an effortless elegance. It’s simply the nicest app of its kind to use, with a polish and refinement that cements its essential nature.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

Fantastical 2 betters iOS’s iffy Calendar app by way of a superior interface, a non-hateful method of dealing with reminders, and truly exceptional event input. The app has a powerful parser, and so while adding an event, you can enter the likes of “TechRadar lunch at 3pm on Friday”, watching a live preview build as you type.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 or free with new devices

Camera enables you to do the odd bit of cropping with video files, but iMovie is an audacious attempt to bring a full video editor to your iPhone, infused with the ease-of-use its desktop counterpart is renowned for. Amazingly, it succeeds. Effects, themes, credits and soundtrack creation then provide extra polish for your mobile filmmaking.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

More or less a speed-dial for regularly performed tasks, Launch Center Pro can be a huge time-saver. You can create shortcuts for things like adding a new Tumblr post or sending your last photo to Twitter, and these shortcuts can be arranged in groups. An essential purchase if you heavily use even a handful of the supported apps.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

Transmit is a missing link for anyone who wanted a file manager for their iPhone. It might have roots in an Mac FTP client, but Transmit also integrates with cloud storage and local networked Macs. It's perfect for moving documents, renaming files, and creating archives to email or upload.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Although Apple’s HDR mode in the Camera app works perfectly well, it pales in comparison to vividHDR. The basic concept is the same: stunning, vibrant photos, capturing amazing details in both highlight and shadow. But vividHDR‘s combination of speed, presets and ‘before and after’ comparisons results in better photos – and that’s what really matters.

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

Every iteration of the iPhone has a superior camera to the previous model, and so it’s only right an enterprising developer came out with an app that can turn your crisp and beautiful snaps into something that you might once have seen on an ancient computer.

In Retrospecs, then, you load your photo, select a system, mess about with dither styles, filters and cropping, and bask in retro glory. A wide range of creaky old computers and consoles is covered, so you should be set whether you were into the C64, Spectrum, SNES, or, er, Mattel Aquarius. (C’mon there must be at least one of you who had the last of those?)

  • $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99

In all honesty, we’ve pretty much had it with filter apps. A new one comes out, and everyone gets all excited, but they pretty much all do the same thing. All of them, that is, apart from Fragment. Rather than offer the usual range of old-school camera filters and adjustment sliders, Fragment instead delves into prismatic photo effects.

In short, this means you get to see what your photos look like through glass collages, smashed mirrors and arty blur effects. Probably not one for the selfie-obsessed crowd, but a must-have download for if you want something a bit more creative and interesting than the norm.

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 or free with new devices

Apple’s GarageBand remains an impressive, ambitious app, turning your iPhone into a recording studio. For beginners, there’s a range of smart instruments, making it easy to learn the basics of songwriting and chord progression. You can also experiment with pre-recorded loops, including in the loop player, where you trigger riffs and drum beats with a tap of your fingers.

If you’re already a musical sort, GarageBand enables you to write directly into a sequencer or record any instrument live. The app can also act as a kind of hub for other iOS music software, tying your apps together through Inter-App Audio and Audiobus.

  • $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99

With its huge range of amps and effects, ToneStack is an excellent choice for guitarists wanting to make some noise by connecting their instrument to their iPhone. An ABY unit enables you to split the signal, for hugely complex set-ups. And if that’s not enough, a slew of IAP provides yet more amps, stomp boxes and features, including an eight-track recorder.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Workflow is all about automation. You can download sets of actions or compose your own, which can trigger iOS apps and related services. For example, you could create a Home screen icon to call a friend, or build a single-tap icon to get directions to your nearest coffee shop.

  • Free

Duolingo is entirely free from IAP, which is extremely generous given the quality of the app and its potential for helping you learn a new language.

It’s packed full of bite-size quizzes that you can dip into at any time, and that gradually build your vocabulary and grammar in any of the ten supported languages.

  • Free

The revamped Google Translate is an astonishing app. When online, it’ll translate written, photographed or spoken text between a huge range of languages. And for English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish (and back), the app will try to live-translate whatever’s in front of your iPhone’s camera — even when you’re offline.

  • Free

For beginners keen on making music, Launchpad is perfect. You choose a genre and then trigger loops with a tap. Effects are only a further swipe and tap away. If you really get into the app, there’s IAP for further loops and the means to import your own audio.

  • Free

Now as synonymous with mobile exercise as Nike+, RunKeeper is an excellent app, backed by a robust social infrastructure. Using your iPhone’s GPS, you can track exercise routes and then share activities with friends. IAP subscriptions are available for ‘elite’ users, and are ad-free and offer real-time sharing.

  • Free

FaceTime is a great alternative to standard voice calls, but it only works with Apple kit. Skype remains the best widely-used alternative for people you know distinctly lacking in Apple devices.

You get free calls to anyone else using Skype, and cheap calls to anywhere in the world. If you’re on Pay and Go, this can be handy, and the app enables iPod touch users to call normal phones too.

  • Free

For free, TunnelBear VPN gives you 500 MB of private browsing that can worm its way around geo-locking. All you do is fire the app up and tell the bear where to tunnel. If you want unlimited data, you can choose from a range of paid tiers, with ad-hoc, monthly or annual costs.

  • $13.99/£13.99/AU$21.99

Originally the darling of the iPad, The Elements in late 2013 became a universal app, so it could be enjoyed on iPhones too. A rich, engaging digital book, it tells the story of the periodic table. Each of life’s building blocks can be manipulated on the screen, before you delve into related facts and figures.

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