Best paid apps for iPhone

iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods
iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

To paraphrase Peter Griffin, "apps make-a da world go round", and what's the use in having an iPhone if you're not gonna load it up with interesting and useful apps?

Free apps are the best, but sometimes you just can't get the features or the fun you're looking for without shelling out a bit of dough. Here are the best paid apps for iPhone!

My criteria for apps on this list

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Since this is the "best paid apps for iPhone", I decided to include apps that you must pay for up front or apps that might be free to download, but a subscription is needed or their functionality is greatly enhanced by making an in-app purchase or by buying the paid version. I also eliminated iOS apps that might be totally awesome, but are better suited to iPad (musical instrument apps, writing apps, etc.).

Here we go!


OK, so we're starting off with an app that you don't actually have to pay to download, but it is better if you pay to use it, making it a paid app in my eyes, and easily one of the best around. The Plex media server is a way for you to enjoy all of your home media without having to be constantly plugged into a hard drive. You just need the free Plex software on your computer and then the app, and you can enjoy all of your favorite movies, TV shows, music videos, whatever, from all of your devices — all you need is an internet connection.

The beauty of Plex is just that — it's elegant. The app organizes all of your media for you and even adds rich descriptions, artwork, and more, giving everything a full and finished feel (not like your first iPod Touch where you couldn't be bothered to find album artwork, so you just had thousands of songs go by with white backgrounds featuring those eighth notes).

The paid "Plex Pass" allows you to upload even more content to your server; stream trailers and extras for movies in your libraries (special features and what not); set up a Plex Home for your family (which allows you to switch between accounts and employ parental controls and restrictions on certain content); activate all of Plex's mobile apps across all devices and platforms just by signing into your account in the app; and a whole bunch more!

If you have a big media library and hate lugging around a hard drive (or five) or you like to watch and listen to your stuff on the go, then Plex is perfect for you.

  • Free to download; Plex Pass is $4.99 monthly, $39.99 yearly, or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription - Download now (opens in new tab)


1Password is yet another app that is free to download, but you'll eventually need to pay to keep using it (downloading gets you a free 30-day trial). It's your one-stop login shop and lets you store passwords to pretty much every account in your life, helping you change them at random, making them stronger — all you have to remember is your 1Password password!

1Password isn't just a stellar password management app; it can also house credit card numbers, addresses — really any information that you deem sensitve can be locked away in your very own vault for your eyes only.

The app works with TouchID, making it even more secure, allowing only those with your fingerprints to get in (namely, you, duh). There's also an Apple Watch app, which lets you decide which information you'd like to access quickly on your watch, and the small screen makes it ideal!

  • Free to download; 1Password subscription is $2.99 a month, billed annually; 1Password Families is $4.99 a month, billed annually - Download now (opens in new tab)

Fantastical 2

There are calendar apps and there are calendars apps, and then there's Fantastical 2. First off, it's gorgeous; it just looks great. It has a pleasant interface that's easy to read and follow, and it's fast. That's the whole point of Fantastical.

Second, it has cool features, like natural language parsing, reminders, an extended keyboard when creating new events or reminders (you have no idea how useful that is until you use it!), and much more.

One of the coolest features is the natural language parser, which allows you to simply type in a phrase, like "romantic dinner with Rene on Friday at 8pm", and then automagically turns it into a calendar event, reminding you on the day.

If you have a crazy busy schedule and not a lot of time to input events in a regimented manor, then Fantastical 2 will save you a ton of time. It's basically a written calendar/reminder version of Siri!

Don at Tom's Guide also thinks Fantastical 2 is worth your moolah, say it "takes your standard Calendar app that comes with iOS and offers better features on all fronts."


I couldn't do a best apps post without one for the photo fanatics or Cella would have my hide. Enlight is SO. COOL. It was selected as App of the Year in the App Store in eight countries, including Canada, eh, and it was runner up App of the Year in the U.S., and it's still awesome two years later!

Enlight is the photo editing app of your dreams, combining features of many apps into one, gorgeous interface, allowing you total control over color, tone, details, masking, and a whole host of sweet effects (like blending and outlining — you can create some seriously neat shit).

You can transform images á la Prisma to make them look for like graffiti or pencil sketches, and you can layer photos, change specific objects in them, correct over-exposure and lots more, like tons. Enlight is basically hipster Photoshop for your iPhone — but in a totally awesome way.

If you love the post-production that goes along with photography, then definitely check out Enlight.

Scanner Pro

If you like to take your documents with you or you need to send a lot of them and don't have the time to dig out that ancient device they call a "fax machine", then Scanner Pro has you covered in a big way.

It lets you take photos of documents with your iPhone and then save them as PDF, and it even automatically recognizes specific document types, cropping them accordingly. You can then upload your scans straight to your favorite cloud storage app. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Scanner Pro also lets you share anything you scan, and it can turn the text in the images into text that you can select and copy, while recognizing 21 languages. You can even edit your scans, and each edit is remembered, so you can come back and reverse or redo edits as you please. There's also an iMessage extension that lets you take and edit photos of documents right in the Messages app. It's all about the workflow, baby!

If you deal with physical documents on a regular basis and need a fast, easy, and reliable way to digitize them and share them, then Scanner Pro is the only way to go (and not just because that rhymes).

V for Wikipedia

I never would have known about this app if it weren't for TechRadar, and I'm sure glad I found it. Be real — you're going to use Wikipedia anyway, so why not have it all in a convenient and really pretty app — easily the most elegant Wikipedia app for iPhone at that.

V (formerly Viki) made the App Store Best of 2016 list because it does more than just give you information — it helps you find out more about where you live! The Nearby Place feature helps you discover more about local landmarks and areas, and you can explore the rest of the world using the app's map.

The Most Read Articles section lets you see what other folks are looking at, and the search is the full Wikipedia experience (not like when searching in the YouTube app would bring up different results than you'd get online — remember that garbage?).

Why pay for a Wikipedia app? Because V is more sleek and more elegant than Wikipedia's web interface; it can help you learn more about your corner of the world; and it's more than just Wikipedia at face value — it takes all the benefits of Wikipedia and gives them practical applications.


SkyView was the first app I ever bought. I was sitting on my family's back deck at like 1 A.M. on a Saturday in the summer and there was a power outage. I looked up and had never seen so many stars within city limits and was floored by all the new constellations I could see, and then I had this overwhelming existential "holy shit" and realized that I didn't know enough about the cosmos. I had heard about SkyView, played around with the lite version, and decided to buy it, and was totally pleased with my decision.

SkyView is a sort of augmented reality app that shows you a map of the sky and tells you about damn near everything you can see and tons of stuff you can't. You calibrate the app, usually by finding where the Sun or Moon happen to be, and then move your iPhone around to figure out which constellation is which, which planet that is over there, and what the names of random stars are.

If you're really jonesing to see a particular planet or constellation, you can search for it, or the app has a list of SkyView settings to let you know which celestial happenings you'll see that night and at what time. The included Apple Watch app will even give you a quick rundown of what you can see at any given moment.

If you're at all curious about the night sky or you're searching for yourself in an endless see of corporations, Instagram dinners, and this pointless charade we call life, then definitely check out SkyView. No, you don't have to be that dramatic to enjoy it.

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run

One of the biggest apps of the last year is of course on the best paid apps list because Mario! DUH! Yeah, the first bit is free, but if you want the full game, you'll need to shell out $10, and trust me: you want the rest of the game.

In this endless runner, you'll have to time your taps just right in order to jump over obstacles and perform sweet moves to collect coins reach the goal. There are also different game modes in "Toad Rally", "World Tour", and "Kingdom Builder", wherein you compete with friend and global players, clear courses, and build your own Mushroom Kingdom, respectively.

You can play as Mario to start, but once you get into the game, you can unlock many of your favorite characters, like Toad, Yoshi, and Luigi, and use each of their special abilities to do better and better in each level.

If you're a fan of endless runners and a fan of Mario, then you'll love this one (if you love Minion Rush (opens in new tab), then you'll also adore Super Mario Run!).

  • Free for the first three courses, $9.99 for the rest - Download now (opens in new tab)


We're no stranger to Workflow here at iMore; in fact, we think it's wonderful. It's very much like IFTTT (opens in new tab) in that you create pathways of actions in order to shorten the amount of time it takes to do the things you do most on your iPhone. In other words, a few actions are compiled so that you only have to perform one or two to get the desired result.

For example, you can create a workflow that lets you look at screenshots on your iPhone and only the screenshots. Or you can take it a step further and look at screenshots that only came from your Apple Watch — with just one tap. Basically, just think of any process you carry out on your iPhone day to day, and if it requires a few taps or jumping between apps, you can likely create a workflow to streamline the process.

If you need some help getting started, Federico Viticci wrote a great how-to for iMore!

If productivity is your number one priority when it comes to your iPhone (especially if you use it for work), then download Workflow and you'll truly wonder how you ever operated without it.


If you run a small business or just happen to ship and receive many package, then you need deliveries. It's a completely comprehensive package tracker that compiles all of your deliveries for you and gives you information about them individually, including shipping updates and where they are on a map.

Deliveries lets you know which company is shipping your packages, allowing you to view the company's website and learn more about them. You can share shipment information via email or via the iMessage app, and there's even an Apple Watch app to help you keep track on the go.

Yeah, you could run around to each shipper's website and check your tracking for free, but why, when Deliveries makes it so easy and convenient?

If you're looking for more package tracking options, Lory Gil has a few more favorites!

Why's the money gone?

What's the best app you've ever paid for? What's the app you bought but regret the most? Let us know in the comments below!