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Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021

News & Magazines

There's a lot going on in the world and a news app can help you keep up with it all. But do you need to pay for one? We tested the major apps to find out. 

Published:
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Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021

Introduction

Whether you're a news junkie or just want to keep informed about current events, there are tons of options for news apps. We tested 10, some free and some with paid subscriptions, to see which were the best. For most people, paying for news is not necessary since there is so much high-quality free content out there, but more serious news readers may want to pay for the additional analysis and reporting offered by their publication of choice. We found that CNN was the best single-source news app and Google News was the best aggregator. Read on for our other favorites:

Our Pick

Best overall news app

  • When you want to know what’s happening, tap into the global news power of CNN.

    4.6 Ratings 2M+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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This cable news channel has a well-designed app to help you keep up with the news of the day. 

Why we chose CNN:

  • This free app is the best app for a single news source we tested.
  • On the app, you can read articles, watch video clips, or listen to audio (and watch live TV if you subscribe to cable providers), so you can pick your favorite way to consume news.
  • Clear layout allows you to quickly get the headlines, and click through for deeper analysis on stories you want to know more about. This makes the app both efficient and detailed.
  • While it obviously only has CNN content, the network has so much coverage that you can stay fully informed without going elsewhere.
Best for: getting your cable news fix on the go and staying informed every day.

Read CNN's Full Review
Runner Up

Best aggregator app

  • Stay informed with latest world & local news personalized for your interest

    4.3 Ratings 2M+ Reviews 1B+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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If you're looking for a free app that curates the most important stories from a wide array of sources, check out the Google News app.

Why we chose Google News:

  • This free app was our favorite news aggregator of them all.
  • When you open the app, the major stories of the day are shown, giving you the highlights quickly. You can browse through or click on a story for more information from a variety of different news sources
  • Select your favorite publications and topics to create a curated news stream. If this includes sources that you subscribe to, you can log in to read in the app
  • Easy to browse. The app offers lots of information displayed cleanly
  • Newsstand allows you to browse tons of different news sources and topics
Best for: savvy news consumers who want the most headlines in the least time.

Read Google News' Full Review
Also Groovy

Best value subscription app

While most subscription news sources have high-quality apps, the Washington Post's was the best of those we tested for more serious newsreaders. 

Why we chose Washington Post:

  • App is technically free, but in order to access more than 7 articles a month, you need a $9.99/month Washington Post subscription (Although pandemic coverage is free)
  • Access all the Post’s news and analysis from a beautifully laid out and easy-to-navigate app. The white-on-black font display is easy on the eyes
  • In addition to the typical mobile scrolling format, the app lets you look at the print edition. Although the print is too small to read this way (at least on a phone), you can tap in to go to each article This reproduces the traditional news reading experience (and makes it feel like the news has an end, rather than constantly refreshing all day long.)
  • Easy to bookmark stories to read later, so you can browse through quickly and note what you want to read more carefully when you have time. 
Best for: serious news consumers who want in-depth reporting and analysis and don't mind paying for it. 


Read The Washington Post's Full Review
Also Groovy

Best local news

  • Free local news coverage - current events, crime alerts & political news

    4.6 Ratings 885K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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If you want to make sure your news diet includes sources close to home, check out the aggregator app News Break.

Why we chose News Break:

  • News Break is a free app that is focused on local news, so it’s a great app for staying up to date on what’s happening in your town and state
  • Complements its local coverage with classifieds, so you can find local deals
  • The app also displays major news headlines, and allows you to create a feed of your favorite news sources, so you can get all your news in one place
  • Lots of ads and annoying notifications are some snags with this app, so best to turn them off and tune them out

Best for: getting news from around the world -- including your own backyard.

Read News Break's Full Review
Also Groovy

Best audio content

  • NPR News: The NPR and public radio station player for your Android.

    3.6 Ratings 93K+ Reviews 1M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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The NPR app allows you to enjoy national public radio audio content right from your phone. If you prefer to read, there's plenty of print articles on the app as well. 

Why we chose NPR:

  • This free app allows you to read or listen to NPR stories, listen to your local station live, and access NPR podcasts.
  • Simple, minimal layout is easy to use and not overwhelming
  • Allows you to create playlists of stories you want to hear, so you can create your own personal feed to listen to when you want to
  • App features lots of arts and culture content, for people who want to keep up with new art, music, books, and movies
  • Of all the apps tested, this one probably has the least content, but NPR listeners should definitely download
Best for: those who want a truly portable news radio.


Read NPR News' Full Review

Everything We Recommend

  • Our Pick

    CNN Breaking US & World News

    4.6 Ratings 2M+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    When you want to know what’s happening, tap into the global news gathering power of CNN. With correspondents and bureaus reporting from across the world, no other news source even comes close.

    • Custom alert settings - stay informed without getting overwhelmed
    • Watch live CNN, CNNi or HLN television anywhere, anytime*
    • Experience the world of breaking news through in-depth stories, photo galleries and news clips.
    • Watch CNN Original Series like “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, CNN news programs like “Anderson Cooper 360” and award-winning CNN Films.

    Video on Demand and Live TV limited to US consumers.

    *first 10 minutes free each day, log in with your US satellite or cable provider credentials for unlimited viewing
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No
  • Runner Up
    Google News is a personalized news aggregator that organizes and highlights what’s happening in the world so you can discover more about the stories that matter to you.


    Stay up to date on your interests

    • The For You tab delivers the top stories across all your favorite topics and sources in one place. Deep dive into science, entertainment, fashion, sports, finance or whatever else you care about.

    One story. Numerous perspectives.

    • With Full Coverage you can be informed on how a story is reported from a variety of sources. With just a tap you’ll see recent headlines from different sources, videos, local news reports, FAQs, news analysis, social commentary, and a timeline of events for stories that developed over time.

    Breaking news

    • The Headlines tab offers an unfiltered view of top and breaking news articles from around the world. Additional sections let you dig in to more on tech news, business news, travel news, national and international news, health and more.

    Discover new sources and topics

    • The Newsstand tab makes it easy to find and follow the sources you trust, as well as browse and discover new ones.

    Access your favorite news and magazines subscriptions, together

    • If you want to support your favorite news publisher, we’ve made it simple to subscribe with your Google Account. This means no more forms, credit card numbers, or new passwords. Easily access them all within the same app.

    A smart news app built for every phone, everywhere

    • Google News is designed to meet the needs of users with different phones and levels of connection.

    • When your connection isn’t strong or you need to save data, Google News will continue to work smoothly by slimming down the size of images and downloading less data.

    • Articles can be downloaded over Wi-Fi to save for reading later when you are offline.
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No
  • Also Groovy
    Stay informed with award-winning national and international news, PLUS complete local news coverage of the D.C. metro area. Scan top headlines for must-read stories. Get fresh perspectives on the world from Post bloggers. Save articles for offline reading in My Post.

    Free to download, subscribers enjoy unlimited access.
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    $9.99 - $149.99 per item
    $5.99 - $149.99 per item
    Local news should be pertinent to you and inform you on local happenings. This knowledge can help you better navigate these unprecedented times. Local news brings communities together and helps you prepare for your day. Join our community: over 45M locals across the U.S. that trust News Break, as the #1 Local-News App.

    Local breaking news, trending news and national news – get your local news, crime updates, election results and coverage, sports updates and U.S. headlines straight to your phone, with News Break.

    Get local news, connect with your local community and follow U.S. headlines such as national news, sports events, lifestyle stories, and even crime updates and traffic. Headline news and local news are at your fingertips, covering everything from tech news to local weather.

    News Break is personalized to your interests, likes and dislikes, so you’ll always get relevant stories that really matter to you. Love Political news? Business news? News Break will make sure you see the trending news and get news alerts relevant to what matters to you.

    News Break helps people live safer, more vibrant, more truly connected lives. Whether it’s finance news, your local sports team, lifestyle tips, local headlines, breaking stories, U.S. news and updates – you can access local, relevant stories and world news with just a tap.

    US News and Highlights

    • Daily news with curated briefings focused on breaking stories, the U.S, local headlines, crime updates, traffic, events, sports updates and more U.S. news and local updates

    • Local news platform intelligently aggregates rich, relevant stories from more than 10,000 trusted news outlets across the U.S.

    • Breaking news - be the first to know about breaking local news, U.S. headlines, world news and local updates

    Local News Updates: Know Your Town

    • Find local eats, local events, shop openings, traffic, breaking stories, and more – all in a single app!

    • Read unique perspectives and personal stories from local writers and content creators

    • Local weather reports

    • Neighborhood watch and local crime reports

    • US news headlines, sports updates, lifestyle stories and local events - focus on the incredible things that are happening right where you live and work!

    Breaking News, Personalized to You

    • The news aggregator collects all the local and national news that matters to you

    • News alerts customized to your tastes

    • Current events, business news and sports news – find whatever news you’re interested in, ready for you!

    News Commentary: Express Yourself

    • Don’t just read the news, discuss it with other News Break readers!

    • News Break welcomes all respectful perspectives and points of view

    Support the Cause

    • News Break is working hard to revive the local-news ecosystem by supporting small publishers around the U.S.

    • We’re activating legions of local bloggers and content creators – people just like you – that have important things to say about their communities. Join in and share your views & news!

    Download News Break today and start living a safer, more vibrant, more connected life through
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No

    NPR News

    3.6 Ratings 93K+ Reviews 1M+ Downloads
    - Read, listen, or create a playlist of your favorite NPR stories and share with friends.
    - Hear live streams from hundreds of NPR stations: search by location (GPS) or zip code / call letters
    - Listen to programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me More

    *Data Protection Choices*

    At NPR, we understand how important privacy is to you, and we are committed to transparency about how we collect, use and share your information. Please take a moment to read our privacy policy: https://n.pr/privacypolicy.

    By downloading this app:
    *You agree to NPR's terms of use, available at https://n.pr/termsofuse.
    *You acknowledge that NPR may process your personal data as described in NPR's privacy policy, available at https://n.pr/privacypolicy.
    *You agree that NPR uses devices identifiers, tracking technologies, and information about the device you use to access NPR's apps to enhance your viewing, listening, and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR's sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR's traffic. This information is shared with social media services, sponsorship, analytics, and other third-party service providers. See details in NPR's privacy policy.
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No

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Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021

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