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Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021

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. 

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Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021
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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 50M+ Downloads
    Free Feature Rich 1M+ Reviews
    Free
    Free

    Loading...

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 Feature Rich Fresh 1M+ Reviews
    Free
    Free

    Loading...

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

  • Reconnect with your neighborhood with local news near you!
    4.5 Ratings 969K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free Feature Rich Fresh
    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
    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 50M+ 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 - Daily Headlines

    4.3 Ratings 2M+ Reviews 1B+ Downloads
    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

    NewsBreak: Local News & Alerts

    4.5 Ratings 969K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Get daily news alerts and updates on current events sent straight to your phone, because small news makes a big difference to communities! Keep up to date with events near you, live local news updates, international news, and more!

    Small news makes a big difference! NewsBreak is your #1 local news app for current events, free live news, business news, and more. Download today to stay up to date on all things local!

    Local news is different from national US news, trending headlines or global news. NewsBreak believes that local news helps bring neighborhoods together around the unique stories they share in common. And only local, small news has the unique ability to meaningfully inform the decisions we make throughout the day.

    Are there any weather alerts in my area? What about traffic updates? What important events are happening nearby? Join NewsBreak’s growing local news community and see why over 45M people across the United States have helped make us the nation’s #1 local news app!

    And remember - we don’t just do local! Local breaking news, sports news, trending national & international news – NewsBreak’s got it all. Get everything from sports updates to national news headlines sent straight to your phone while coming together with your neighborhood to share interesting conversations related to local news in your area.

    Join the 45M+ locals across the U.S. that trust NewsBreak as their #1 local news app!

    NewsBreak Features:

    Local News Highlights
    • Get local news, traffic, events near by, local weather alerts, news widget, and more in a curated daily briefing
    • Live stream news on local channels: follow local news, events, and activities
    • Get local weather reports and traffic updates at a glance

    Breaking News, National and Local
    • Both small news and breaking news, stay up to date with our current news coverage
    • Daily news aggregated right onto your device
    • Browse national news headlines and read comprehensive, in-depth stories
    • Use the discovery engine to discover stories from over 10,000 trusted sources

    Personalized News Feed
    • Get the stories that matter to you with a highly personalized feed, relevant to your likes and dislikes
    • Get coverage on the tv news that matters most to you, including sports news, business news, tech news, health news, real estate news, science news, finance news, and more
    • Keep up with the latest coverage of headline news and events, nationally and locally!
    • Our news aggregator collects and delivers the news that matters to you
    • Get news alerts customized to your tastes

    Your Community News
    • Find local eats, small news updates, traffic alerts, deals, local shopping, and more ahead of time
    • Read personal and vivid stories from our local news writers and content creators
    • Treat us as your personal newsstand, magazine collector, news picker, blog reader, restaurant reviewer, and more
    • Stay updated with daily life, events near you, and neighborhood crime with the local safety map

    Create Civic Value - Support the Cause
    • Use NewsBreak to revive the local news maker ecosystem and support small publishers
    • Increase local story volume and geographic coverage to stimulate local storytelling and community power

    Follow or Block the Trend - It’s Up to You
    • It’s totally cool to stay on top of some topics, or totally hate them!
    • NewsBreak allows you to follow what is trending, or completely block some topics you don’t appreciate
    • You can laugh, share, think, cry, upvote, downvote, comment, reply...
    • NewsBreak is a free ground that welcomes you to express emotions & opinions

    Download NewsBreak today to stay informed on local news, national headlines, and world news!

    Better informed, better life.
    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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The 411 from our Appventurer

Caroline Rothnie
Written by:

Caroline Rothnie

Free vs Paid Daily News Apps of 2021

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