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Best Music Apps for iPhone and Android Devices

Best Music Apps for iPhone and Android Devices

Daniel Horowitz
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We’re living in a golden age of music streaming and music discovery. There are more music apps for Android and iPhone devices than ever, and each offers its own unique features and functionality.
While Spotify was once the most popular kid on the streaming block, music lovers have plenty of choices now. To help you find the best streaming service for you, we compiled and reviewed the top options so you can keep listening to all your favorite artists and podcasts.

What to expect from free music streaming

Most music apps, including popular options like Spotify, have a free version, but not all do. When a subscription streaming service does have a free version, it’s limited in functionality and scope.
For example, you can’t download and listen to music offline, and you’ll need to sit through commercials while listening. Some services have a “skips limit,” which means you can’t skip from one song to the next when listening to a radio station or playlist. The sound quality is usually not as good as a paid version, either.
Most free music player apps also don’t let you select specific songs. Instead, you can only shuffle through playlists.

Best apps for listening to music

Audiotrack Playing in Car from Smartphone
We found 6 of the best apps available now for listening to music, each with its own perks and advantages. From audio quality and music selection to exclusive podcasts, there’s plenty of variety between these music apps.
Let’s take a look at what makes each music streaming app different, so you can find the best one for creating that next great playlist. Note that they’re all available through the App Store and Google Play Store.

1. Spotify - Best free music app

Spotify is one of the original music streaming apps, and it’s also the most recognized music app available. The app has more than 75 million songs and numerous popular or exclusive podcasts, like the Joe Rogan Experience and Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert. Spotify is well-known for its "Discover" feature, which creates a weekly playlist for you based on your previous listening history.
Spotify offers both a Premium version and a free, ad-supported version.
With a Premium subscription:
  • Download music for offline listening
  • Enjoy unlimited skipping
  • Selecting of songs
  • Never hear a single advertisement
You don’t get those same perks with a free account. Plus, it’s even more limited on mobile because you can only shuffle playlists, and not pick songs.
Spotify’s sound quality may not reach the levels of its competitors, but it makes up for that with a streamlined interface and vast selection of music and podcasts. Also, based on the library alone, it’s our pick for the best free music app.
Cost:
  • Free for ad-supported
  • $9.99 per month for premium
  • $15.99 for family (up to 6 accounts)
  • $4.99 per month for students

2. Amazon Prime Music - Best app you didn’t know you had

Amazon Prime Music is the best music app that you didn't realize you probably already have. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you automatically get Amazon Prime Music as part of your subscription.
The Prime Music app has more than 2 million songs available and is totally ad-free. In addition to the mobile app, it features easy syncing with your Amazon Echo devices via Amazon Alexa.
You can also upgrade your Amazon Prime Music account to Amazon Prime Unlimited, which has more than 70 million songs and HD-quality sound. Unlimited is bundled with Amazon Music HD, which gives you access to HD and Ultra HD tracks at no extra charge. The quality of the HD and Ultra HD tracks rivals the highest tier of other music streaming apps.
Cost:
  • Free for Amazon Prime customers
  • $9.99 per month for Amazon Prime Unlimited
  • $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime Unlimited for Amazon Prime members
  • $14.99 per month for Amazon Prime Unlimited for family (up to 6 accounts)
  • You can purchase Amazon Music HD separately for $7.99

3. Deezer - Best competitor to Spotify

Deezer is a music streaming app that serves as a direct rival to Spotify. It has been around nearly as long as Spotify, and competes directly with it in many markets. However, for those based in other countries, Deezer has a much broader reach and is the most widely available music streaming app, found in over 185 countries.
The company has partnered with Sony to bring 360 Reality Audio to their HiFi plan, which is of similar quality to the more expensive audio plans from other music streaming apps. Deezer currently has 56 million songs in its extensive library, although it has a limited podcast selection.
It also has a "Flow" feature which creates curated music selections for you using machine learning. Unlike Spotify "Discover," it gives unlimited recommendations and the algorithm is more curated toward your personal tastes.
Cost:
  • Free for basic version, which is ad-supported and does not allow for offline streaming
  • $9.99 for Premium plan
  • $14.99 for family plan (up to 6 accounts)
  • $14.99 for HiFi plan

4. Tidal - Best app for highest-quality audio

Tidal first made waves for its association with major talent in the music industry, including previous majority owner and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. However, he sold 80% of Tidal to Square/Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2021.
For audiophiles, Tidal is a boon. The service includes more than 60 million lossless quality tracks, which are high-quality audio versions of your favorite tunes. You’ll find them in the Premium tier subscription, but there’s even higher-quality audio in the HiFi tier’s “Tidal Masters” feature. This includes songs authenticated by the actual artists to provide the best possible sound quality.
Tidal has the impressive "Tidal Rising" feature, too, that provides a deeper, more personal sense of curation. Rather than relying on an algorithm, Tidal works with industry experts to provide recommendations of lesser-known artists.
Tidal is also well known for paying its artists more per stream, and for its industry expertise.
Cost:
  • No free option
  • $9.99 per month for Premium
  • $14.99 for family Premium (up to 6 accounts)
  • $19.99 per month for HiFi
  • $29.99 for family HiFi

5. Apple Music - Best music app for Apple users

During the initial rise of music streaming apps, Apple was slightly behind the curve with its focus on paid downloads through iTunes. However, the company’s Apple Music app has grown into a premier music streaming service.
Its perks include more than 75 million songs, a curated Apple Music 1 radio station, Siri compatibility, and plenty of video content. You also get access to lyrics and support for the Apple Watch. If you own an Apple Watch, you can sync your music to the device, allowing you to play it from the watch to your headphones – without an iPhone.
The app’s lossless audio quality matches that of Tidal and Amazon Music Unlimited. It has an extensive collection of comedy albums, too, but it’s lacking a bit in podcasts (there’s Apple Podcasts, a separate app, for that). However, it does feature exclusive documentaries about some artists and bands, as well as select exclusive live-streamed concerts.
Cost:
  • No free option
  • $9.99 per month after a 3-month free trial
  • $14.99 for family (up to 6 accounts)

6. YouTube Music - Best music app for music videos

In 2020, Google folded the Google Play Music app into YouTube Music, which offers Google search engine functionality, allowing you to search for songs with descriptions or even lyrics.
This makes it a lot easier to discover music if you can't recall the artist or the title of the track, but you can sing a few lines.
It’s also great for manually discovering new music that sounds similar to music that you already like – especially when you consider there are more than 60 million songs available.
The search algorithm also shows unofficial music videos that populate search results alongside audio files and official music videos. Basically, if you love music videos, YouTube Music is a great pick.
However, you may be let down by the sound quality, which maxes out at a bit rate of 256 kbps. This is fine for most listeners, but it’s lower than other comparable music streaming apps, including Spotify, which can go up to 320 kbps.
Pay for the premium version to remove all ads and to listen to music on your mobile device while the screen is locked, which saves battery life.
Cost:
  • Free for ad-supported
  • $9.99 per month for premium
  • $14.99 for family (up to 6 accounts)

Summary

The best part about choosing a new music app for iPhone and Android is that you can try them for free, either through a short trial or the ad-supported account. This will help you figure out if the app has all the music and features you may be looking for. Also, if you only listen to music occasionally or don’t mind hearing ads, the free version may be all you need.
If you’re looking for the best all-around option, though, Spotify fits the bill for most users. It also grants you access to tons of podcasts, including popular exclusives. Those more interested in audio fidelity should take a look at Tidal and Apple Music, and if music videos are your jam, be sure to check out YouTube Music.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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