Top 10 best apps for new iPhone users

Breaking down the top 10 best social, productivity, video, music, and other apps and games for your new iPhone

Top 10 apps for new iPhone users

Did you or someone you know just get a brand new iPhone or iPod touch, and are wondering which are the top 10 very best, most must-have apps and games you absolutely need to jump into the App Store and download now, now, now? Well, you're in luck -- whether you want to show off the beautiful Retina display, test the power of the dual-core Apple A5 processor, need to get things done, or just want to have some fun, TiPb's top 10 have got your back! As part of our ongoing iPhone new users guide, here are our top 10 favorite, most highly recommended iPhone apps to get you started!

Note: App prices are current as of the time of this writing but can and do change frequently over time, including going up, down, and going on sale. Some free apps also sell additional content via in-app-purchase, or require a subscription. Always read app descriptions thoroughly before purchasing or downloading.

Social apps: Facebook for iPhone

Top 10 apps for iPhone 4S - Facebook for iPhone

Facebook is one of the most popular sites on the web, and not surprisingly, it's also one of the most popular apps on iPhone. While Facebook for iPhone has a well earned reputation for general bugginess, it's also been steadily improving as of late. Sure, you can visit Facebook.com on Safari, but the app gives you much, much more functionality, not the least of which is photo uploads. You also get Places, Messages, Chat, and many of your other favorite Facebook features.

Also check out:

  • Facebook Messenger is for those who want a fast, focused way to stay in instant touch with friends. Free - App Store link
  • LinkedIn for iPhone has a brand new, way more distinctive interface for all your business networking. Free - App Store link
  • Tweetbot is a great, highly stylized alternative to the official Twitter client. $2.99 - App Store link
  • Find my Friends is Apple's answer to keeping track of who's where, either all the time or just for special events. Free - App Store link

Casual games: Angry Birds

Angry Birds is like the Mario or Sonic of iPhone and iPod touch gaming -- so synonymous with iOS that even though it's not made by Apple, even though it's on other platforms now, it's still the most famous, and still one of the most fun games ever to grace the App Store. While the idea of slingshotting variously powered birds at the variously fashioned fortifications and popping variously evil green pigs might seem thin at first, excellent gameplay and a constant stream of updates keep it fresh -- and continuously at or near the top of the charts. Give it a fling... and prepare to lose many an hour chasing those elusive three star ratings.

Also check out:

  • Cut the Rope is just as simple, just as enjoyable, and just as addictive. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Plants vs. Zombies is a charming, horrifically funny take on tower defense. $2.99 - App Store link
  • Tiny Wings shows that birds don't have to be angry to be fun; they don't even need to fly... much. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Seigecraft is a beautifully done tower defense style game... with trebuchets! $2.99 - App Store link

Communications/IM apps: Skype

Top 10 apps for your new iPhone 4S - Skype

The iPhone is a phone, so it makes voice calls, it has FaceTime so it makes video calls, and it has iMessage, so it can do IM. What place is there, then, for Skype for iPhone? Turns out, a lot. FaceTime and iMessage are Apple-only technologies, so they don't play nicely with other devices and platforms, and phone calls -- especially international phone calls cost a lot of money. Microsoft's Skype runs on almost every device and operating system, is free to call other Skype users, and cheap to call phones.

Also check out:

  • BeeJiveIM supports AIM/MobileMe, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo!, GoogleTalk, Facebook, MySpace and Jabber for flexible, full featured chat. $9.99 - iTunes link
  • Google Voice for iPhone lets you access your GV calls, texts, and voice mail. Free - iTunes link
  • WhatsApp is probably the closest thing to a cross-platform BBM (BlackBerry Messenger)-style instant messenger available. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Verbs doesn't support as many protocols but for GTalk, Facebook, AIM, and Me.com, nothing looks nicer. $0.99 + in-app purchase - App Store link

Productivity apps: Numbers, Pages, and Keynote

Top 10 apps for your new iPhone 4S - Keynote, Numbers, and Pages

Apple's iWork suite, which consists of Keynote for presentations, Numbers for spreadsheets, and Pages for word processing has recently been updated to work with iCloud, so all your documents get stored and synced between your devices (including, eventually, iWork for Mac when Apple updates it). Keynote was built for Steve Jobs so it's absolutely best in class, while Numbers and Pages are easy to use and produce great looking docs.

Also check out:

  • Good Reader is a powerhouse for PDF annotating and file management. [$2.99 - App Store link]
  • Evernote stores text, images, and audio for easy reference later. [Free - App Store link]
  • Elements is a text editor that syncs with Dropbox and has Markdown support. 'Nuff said. $4.99 - App Store link
  • Todo takes task management to the next level, with sync to Dropbox or iCloud among others. $4.99 - App Store link

Action/arcade games: Infinity Blade II

Epic's Unreal 3 engine exploded onto iPhone with Infinity Blade, an on-rails sword fighting extravaganza with some of the best visuals we've ever seen. Infinity Blade II takes all of that to a whole new level. You literally will not believe a game that looks this good is running on your phone.

Infinity Blade II picks up where the first left off, with you locked in a battle with the Deathless, only this time the stakes are higher, the enemies badder, and the weapons more powerful than ever. It's still a tad repetitive at times, but it quickly becomes as addictive as it is gorgeous, and ChAIR typically has regular updates so there's always new gear, new enemies, and new aspects to enjoy.

Also check out:

  • Real Racing 2 for amazing cars, online action, and AirPlay. $9.99 - App Store link
  • Street Fighter IV Volt puts the classic fighter in the palm of your hands. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Extraction: Project Outbreak is a fresh take on the top-down 3D shooter. $0.99 - App Store Link
  • Atari's Greatest Hits brings the oldest of old school to your brand new advice. Free - App Store link

Music apps: Rdio

Rdio for iPhone

While Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify get a lot of attention, Rdio's focus on social networking means it really excels at music discovery -- you get to see what the people you're following are listening to. You can cache music for offline listening, so you can load up on Wi-Fi and save your data, and the available selection of music is great for mainstream and alternative music lovers alike. Give it a try with the free 7-day trial.

Also check out:

  • GarageBand is Apple's iLife music making app brought to iPhone. $4.99 - App Store link
  • DJay will make you the mixing star of your next party. $0.99 - App Store link
  • MadPad lets you remix and make music out of all the sounds around you. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Shows lets you know when and where your favorite artists are in concert. $2.99 - App Store link

Photo apps: Instagram

Instagram for iPhone

Instagram is the current king of iPhone photography apps, and it took the crown through a brilliant combination of easy-to-apply filters and super simple social sharing. The latest version not only adds even more filters, but all tilt-shift effects. Whether you want to quickly share great looking snap shots to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, or Posterous, Instagram has you covered. In style.

Also check out:

  • Photogene2 is a photography powerhouse, with full featured editing, sharing, and much more. $1.99 - App Store link
  • Camera+ is jam packed with features and filters to make your photos shine. $0.99 - App Store link
  • Hipstamatic to bring that terrific toy camera look to your shots. [$0.99 - App Store link
  • Flickr for iPhone lets you store and share all the shots you take. [Free - App Store link

Video apps: Air Video

Air Video

Air Video automagically transcodes on the the fly and streams your videos -- almost any videos, in almost any format -- from your Windows or Mac PC to your iPhone. If you have an Apple TV, you can also beam them straight to your big screen television as well. If you've got a ton of content on your computer and you want to watch it on your iPhone, this is the app for you.

Also check out:

  • iMovie is Apple's iLife video editor, gloriously brought to iPhone. $4.99 - App Store link
  • Netflix gives you access to tons of streaming catalog titles, right on your iPhone. Free - App Store link
  • IMDb includes all the movie and TV details and showtimes in handy app form. Free - App Store link
  • Slingplayer Mobile works with your Slingbox to put anything from your TV on your iPhone. $29.99 - App Store link

Internet apps: Dropbox

Dropbox for iPhone

Dropbox is an amazing cloud sync solution not just for iPhone but for iPad, Mac, Windows, Linux, and basically everything you can imagine (several of us store almost our entire home directories in Dropbox). Not only does it give you access to any and all files in your Dropbox folder -- along with easy links for sharing and the ability to store favorites locally -- but many, many other apps use Dropbox to handle their sync as well, from password apps to writing apps to note taking apps. You get 2GB for free and can buy more if you need it. It's different than Apple's iCloud, but it's just as awesome.

Also check out:

  • 1Password lets you have security and convenience with all your logins, credit cards, and accounts available on your iPhone. $14.99 - App Store link
  • Skyfire is a web browser that lets you watch some Flash videos on your iPhone. $2.99 - App Store link
  • Screens is a VNC client that lets you remote desktop to your Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. $19.99 - App Store link
  • Articles wraps up Wikipedia into a great looking, easy to use app. $2.99 - App Store link

Location/GPS apps: NAVIGON

Get full fledged turn-by-turn driving directions on your iPhone so you can keep your eyes where they belong -- on the road. NAVIGON provides on-board maps which means it keeps working in areas where there's no data coverage. You can buy regional, country, or continents at a time, and there are also options for live traffic updates, parking directions, and enhanced panoramic views of the surroundings.

Also check out:

  • Foursquare lets you "check in" to locations, keep track of your and your friends' locations, and earn points for being there. Free - App Store link
  • Yelp provides restaurant, gas station, bar, and pretty much any type of business location and recommendations. Free - App Store link
  • Find my iPhone is Apple's way for iCloud to help you locate, lock, and even wipe a missing or stolen iPhone. Free - App Store link
  • Waze is a free, crowd-sourced, and highly social travel and nav app. Free - App Store link

Your top apps?

So there you have them, our top 10 best iPhone apps to get you started. Be sure to check out our Picks of the Week and iPhone App and Games Forum for more recommendations, and if we missed any of your favorites leave them in the comments below!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Top 10 best apps for new iPhone users

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I'd recommend Box.net over Dropbox right now considering they are offering 50GB (yes, fifty) of free storage to iOS users. I think that only runs through the end of the year, though.
I also prefer Springpad over Evernote, as well as Docs to Go over iWork (mainly because I work in a Microsoft Office environment).
For music I love Shoutcast.
And for podcasts nothing beats Downcast.

Yes but syncing with the computer is not free, so what good is the 50GB if you can't really use it on the computer.

Definitely Wikipanion. Whether paid or free, it is an awesome reference app. Even more, since it learned to play well with other wikis besides Wikipedia.

FAQ is an incredible productivity app for answering customers' emails. I use it ten to fifteen times per day.

Where is Cards?
It baffles me that even the most die hard fanboys like Rene do not recommend it, when Apple spent so much time hyping it on the last keynote.
Is it a silent revolution of some sorts?

Nav: MotionX GPS Drive
Music: Pandora
Video: HBOGO (if you have HBO)
News: Stitcher, NPR
Games: Catan, Carcassonne, Risk, Phrase Party
Computing: Screens/Screens Connect

For navigation, Waze is garbage. It will not let you deviate from it's chosen route, insisting on u-turns and backtracking of 20 miles or more to get you back to where it wants you to go instead of choosing the best route from where you are at the time.

Not necessarily, if you continue proceeding in the direction you mean to head, it'll reroute you based on where you are and where you want to go. At least it has for me, and I often reroute myself.

Boy, the hype surrounding TweetBot is crazy. Probably the ugliest, biggest pain in the ass Twitter client that I own. And I own a LOT.

Wow. Either you're just hating on the Tweetbot praise, or you're missing a trick.
Tweetbot, has top drawer performance, aesthetics and features.
Surely your confusing it with TwitBird or something?

Boy, the hype surrounding TweetBot is crazy. Probably the ugliest, biggest pain in the ass Twitter client that I own. And I own a LOT.

Awesome list.
Gotta download facebook messanger.
Evernote...kinda weird app, never knew how to use it.

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Hi, I would like to add an application that I really liked its name is Rock & Boulder, it has very good graphics, great music and the best is that it allows to use all ten fingers to play!!

Hi all i have some productivity app how to submit them for review? any one want Productivity app like Notes by Voice, Document Management apps I have some

I found this neat app called watzzGOOD to link up with friends by means of calendaring. It helps me find good places to go through friends, but that's not all, I use it to schedule w/them using the built-in calendar.