The best mobile apps: Because your phone is worth it

Tired of thinking your phone is rubbish compared to an iPhone? Don't throw it out the window just yet -- you could breathe new life into it by downloading a few of these mobile apps

Instead of crying over not being able to afford an iPhone, you need to sort your old phone out with some rejuvenating apps and services. We've compiled a list of some of our favourites -- give them a go and see which ones have you caressing your phone like when you popped it out of its box for the first time. Let us know which is your favourite or if we've missed any in comments below, or discuss it in our forums.

The must-have apps
We don't just like these apps, we think you that if you own a smart phone you have to download them. You're doing your phone a disservice otherwise -- it'd be like taking your girlfriend for a slapup dinner at Little Chef. We'd go as far as saying these programs have changed our lives -- but don't take our word for it, download them now and start living the dream.

Opera Mini

Opera Mini is a brilliant free-to-download mobile Internet browser that lets you surf the Web in a similar way to your PC's browser , using a few sneaky tricks to overcome your phone's hardware limitations. Instead of cramming a full-sized page on to your little screen, it cleverly presents an overview of a page and you can easily zoom in and out.

If you'd like to give it a go, visit operamini.com using your phone's existing Web browser and follow the on-screen instructions.

Google Maps

Google may be a search leviathan, but it's also brilliant at making mobile apps. One of its best programs has to be Google Maps for mobile phones, which offers almost everything you get from Google Maps on your computer, including directions.

You can even view streets in satellite mode and use your phone's GPS to tell you exactly where you are. If you don't have GPS, it brilliantly uses nearby mobile towers to establish an approximate location. It's much less accurate than using the GPS mode, but still very handy if you're completely lost.

You can get it for your phone by clicking here and entering your number or visiting google.co.uk/gmm on your phone's browser.

The 'just in case' apps
You don't need these, but you might find them very useful when it all goes wrong. Whether you've lost your phone or you're trying to find out the number of the local police station, these two services will keep you calm when it all goes Pete Tong.

Mobyko

Losing your phone can be devastating, especially if you haven't backed up any of its content. There's no need to get caught out -- Mobyko allows you to backup contacts, text messages, pictures and videos to the Internet.

It's very easy to use and comes with a few extras we find really useful, such as being able to text message people straight from your PC's Web browser. This means you can use a proper keyboard -- it even sends the texts using your mobile number, so there's no confusion. Mobyko charges for this, but you can buy bundles to reduce the cost per message.

Mobyko has been kind enough to offer CNET.co.uk readers a premium account worth £25 for free. Premium users get 100 free texts to send from any computer, extra storage space for photos, videos & texts and VIP customer support, including 24/7 online help. All you have to do to take advantage of this offer is enter the word CNET where it says, "Do you have a promo code?" on the Mobyko homepage, when you join.

Texperts 66000

Knowledge is power, and Texperts is the power station. It's not strictly an app, but it is very simple: you text a question to 66000 and in a few minutes (or more depending on how hard the question is), you'll get an answer.

Similar to AQA , Texperts will answer practically anything and what's great about the service is you won't get charged if they can't answer the question, or if you say thank you once they've answered it. The only time Texperts charges you is when you get the answer.

Texperts is kindly giving away two free questions to CNET.co.uk readers. All you have to do is start them with CNET and then your question, for example, text "CNET Where can I buy a Sony Ericsson W890i online?" to 66000. This offer only applies to new customers, so if you've already used Texperts in the past, you will be charged.

The 'because I like it' apps
You won't be had up for mobile phone cruelty if you don't download these apps, but we like them, so we thought you would too. Who knows? You might end up finding these puppies must-haves.

Fring

If you're anything like the Crave crew you'll like to reach your buddies 24/7 via an instant message client or VoIP. Lugging your desktop around with you isn't an option, but Fring will sort you out.

It's a mobile app that gives you access to almost every IM client and lets you make VoIP calls over Google Talk or Skype. It's easy to setup and easy to use, but we especially like that it lets you choose from a variety of chat clients.

Whether you use MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger or even Twitter, Fring lets you keep in touch using your mobile phone and a data connection. You can download Fring by visiting the Fring Web site and entering your phone number and model.

Shozu

Assuming you like all things Internet-flavoured, Shozu is a great way of uploading photos and videos to your favourite sites, whether you're a Facebook fanatic or a YouTube starlet. You only need to send an image once and Shozu helpfully does all the gruntwork.

So no more fiddling about with complicated mobile login pages, just click and go. It'll even let you do some citizen journalism and upload photos to the BBC or ITV. As with Fring, we particularly like this service because of the level of choice it offers. Give it a go -- visit the Shozu Web site and register your details.

 

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