The Best Ways to Save on Phone Apps

by Barbara Hadden

We’re only about two months away from the 15th anniversary of the iPhone, which ushered in the age of the app.

That’s been plenty of time for companies to figure out how to monetize apps and lure people into overspending — and for people to become entrenched in their habits.

Regardless of what kind of phone you use, now’s a good time to think about how much you spend through your device and whether you can do better. Here are the top ways to lower app spending.

Android users save more

Maybe you’ve heard of the “Apple Tax.” If not, that’s the idea that Apple often prices its products higher than competitors thanks to its prestige as a brand.

This plays out not only with devices but also with app purchases. For one example, check out the photography editing app TouchRetouch: It costs $2 on the Google Play store but Apple lists it for twice as much in its App Store.

So the best way to save on apps is a simple one. Use Android devices, not Apple ones.

That’s not the only way Android pays off. Android users also have the option to shop around in other app stores and may even be able to download apps directly from the websites of the people who made them. That’s sort of like buying at cost, since there’s no app store taking a cut. Apple users are locked into shopping through Apple’s own platform, though.

Of course, some people love their iPhones or don’t watch to switch for any of several reasons. That doesn’t mean you can’t save.

Savings for Apple users — and everyone else

Some saving strategies have nothing to do with what type of phone you use. Here are some easy ways to cut back on app spending:

  • Use free versions when available. They may have ads or lack a few features, but unless you know you’re going to use a specific app constantly, it may not be worth the cost.
  • Check the alternatives. OK, say you know for sure you need an app that does something specific. There’s likely robust competition, and there may be a cheaper app that can accomplish the same thing.
  • Cancel subscriptions. Sometimes apps charge a regular fee to continue using them. But it’s easy to forget you’re being charged if you’re not seeing a bill in the mail. Try to keep tabs on your subscriptions. Here are instructions for Android and Apple devices.

Apps can be a needless expense, but they can also be vehicles for savings themselves. Check out our stories “6 Apps That Give Dollars for Footsteps” and “5 Apps Changing How We Manage Money.”

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