Five Android apps worth paying for

Five Android apps worth paying for

Summary: Sometimes the best things in life aren't free. Here are 5 apps for Android that are worth every penny.


Many apps in the Google Play store are free, but if you limit yourself to free apps you're missing out on some of the best that Android has to offer. Here are five apps that I bought myself and can personally recommend. Prices vary over time and by country, but none of them are currently over $4.

9GAG+ by Jan Grewe

9gag is a quirky, amusing, and often rude web site that will have you in stitches in no time. While there are, um, a "gaggle" of apps that can be used to browse the site, this is the best one I've found. Navigation is amazingly quick, and stays out of your way. Simply touch the left or right side of the screen, or use the volume up or down controls to go to the next or previous page. The gags are zoomed automatically to fill your whole screen whether you are in portrait or landscape mode.

If I have any complaint about the app, it's that sharing gags with your friends is not as easy as it could be.  A free version with a few less features is available, but it's worth buying the paid one once you get hooked. Keep in mind that not all the gags are safe for work. Challenge accepted.

Asteroid Defense 2 by Deonn Games

It's Asteroids meets Tower Defense in this brilliantly executed arcade game. You start off small, but quickly build a large space station to fend off the rocky attack. Different units provide shields, power generation, maintence bots, and a wide variety of weapons. Here's a hint: try to build a V shape to trap and destroy the asteroids before they make it through your front line. Watch out for space dragons!

Jelly Defense by Infinite Dreams

If you like Tower Defense games, Jelly Defense is a must buy. Even if you don't like TD's, you will after you try this one. Jelly monsters are trying to steal your crystals, so what do you do? Build Jelly blasters and bombers zappers to keep them at bay. But watch out, because at the end of each level, a Jelly boss lumbers out on the screen. He's so cute you almost hate to put him down. Almost.

The graphics on this game are stunning, especially on a high saturation display like a Samsung Galaxy Tab. And do yourself a favor - plug in your headphones to enjoy the music and hilarious sound effects. Best played on a big screen, but works on any modern device.

Bubble Pro Live Wallpaper by Xllusion

Do you like playing with bubbles? Sure you do. With this live wallpaper you can pop all the bubbles you want without having to worry about spilling the soap. Bubbles form at the bottom of your screen and slowly float to the top, where they pop against the edge of your display. If you tilt the screen left or right, the bubbles will start going in that direction. The program is highly customizable, and even has a game mode where you can pop bubbles for points. You might want to turn your sound down for that one, though. A Lite version is available, but it's worth a few coins just to get the Ninja Droid and Bat Droid bubbles.

SystemPanel by NextApp

SystemPanel is so much more than a task manager. It gives you access to a wealth of information about your Android device and its inner workings. Need to monitor CPU and battery usage over time? SystemPanel does that. Curious about how many of your cores are being used, what clock rate they are running, and how hot they are? SystemPanel does that. It also can keep backup copies of all versions of your apps so you can go back to older versions, without requiring root access.

This is one of the most impressive Android apps I have ever seen. I use it almost every day, and it's the first app that I install whenever I get a new phone or tablet. You can try out all the features in a Lite version before you buy if you like, but for developers and power users, SystemPanel is an absolute must have.

Did I leave out your favorite app? Let me know in the comments below.

Topics: Android, Amazon, Apps, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Security, Smartphones

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Droidwall

    Granted it requires root access, but it forces you to pay more attention to what you download. Also a great way to manage work supplied handsets.
  • Awesome Mobile App-Rewarded for Window Shopping :)

    Hi.. just thought of sharing this mobile shopping app MintM which rewards me with mint points for just visiting the shop while shopping and redeem them with variety of items in various outlets..

    I also get to maintain my shopping list and get the best deals available for the products in my list.. Made my day.. Freely available at

    Works great with Android and blackberry.. Happy Shopping!! Enjoy :)
  • Check permissions your apps want

    LBE Privacy Guard is a must-have for rooted-phones.
    It checks every single app installed for the permissions its asking for, then gives you the option to Allow, Confirm or Block.
    Fabulous. You'll be surprised what permissions these apps ask for, but don't actually need to continue working as normal! Facebook app i'm looking at you...
  • 2 more games worth buying

    battleheart and paladog are both worth checking out.
    • Battleheart

      I would have put Battleheart on the list but they announced last year they're no longer updating the app. It's too bad because it's a great game.
      Ed Burnette
  • battery management

    The battery issues are well documented. Juice defender ultimate has been an awesome purchase for me on my thunderbolt. You can manage how data comes into the phone--even when using certain apps that don't require data. A great application.
    • Re: Battery Management

      I tried Juice Defender but it didn't work as well for me.
      Ed Burnette
  • Version Compatibility ..

    It would be nice if you could include a OS Version and Phone/Tablet compatibility statement along with these insights. thx
  • Games and Entertainment?

    No real useful apps made your list, just a couple of games, screen saver, website, and a tool to find out why your smartphone isn't doing what it should. Nothing productive here, just mindless entertainment.
    • Agreed

      What a useless article. Ed's pay should be docked.
      • Re:Agreed

        Epic trolling :oD +1
      • Nonsense

        "A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men."
    • Lighten up

      Not every app has to be for productivity. Games make up the largest segment of mobile sales.
      Ed Burnette
  • "Apps"?

    I wouldn't even classify most of these as "apps." And I wouldn't be interested in any of them even if they were free.
  • Thanks to You....

    I just wasted an hour playing with a couple of new apps. :)
  • I app, 4 crap

    Four space-takers and one potentially useful app? I guess 20% isn't bad.
  • Google Drive

    I use Google Drive *all* the time for things I want on my PC, phone, and tablet.

    Oh--and it's free.
  • Quell Reflect

    A great puzzle/strategy game, great execution, well worth the $.99
    • Re: Quell Reflect

      I bought Quell and Quell Reflect are they're both great.
      Ed Burnette
  • Who wrote this?

    Hey Ed, did we take a well earned night off and persuade one of the minors to write this by any chance?;-' [i]Just this once maybe?[/i]:-o There is nothing on this list I'd consider paying for except possibly SystemPanel, honestly, everything on this list just might be wanted by my ten year old nephew if he got his way..(well, except SystemPanel)
    Titanium Backup
    ES File explorer
    Arcmedia Player
    Permissions Denied
    - are all worth paying for and many more.