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Phones

Best free iPhone apps

The iTunes Store now houses so many good free apps that picking the best almost made us foam at the mouth. Nevertheless, here are five apps that we couldn't live without.

So much good content is now freely available in the iTunes Store that choosing a mere five apps for this round-up almost made us foam at the mouth. As such, we haven't included any of the apps featured in our recent round-ups of the iPhone's best Twitter, photography, news and games apps. Nor have we included some of the more obvious free apps -- Facebook, Skype, iBooks and so on.

But what we have included is a summary of five free apps that we simply couldn't live without. Let us know which apps float your boat the most in the comments section below.

eBuddy Messenger

The iPhone doesn't come with a built-in instant-messaging client, but this is a gap that eBuddy Messenger plugs without costing you a penny.

It doesn't matter which IM service you normally use -- eBuddy lets you chat over virtually any network, including AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, MySpace, Hyves and ICQ. It's easy to set up and use, and provides push notifications for any new messages you receive, blurring the boundaries between IM and texting.

A £2.99 premium version gets rid of the adverts and offers a couple of extra features, but the free edition comes with pretty much everything most users would want.
Score: 4
Download it from iTunes

Dropbox

Apple's own iDisk online storage comes as part of its MobileMe service, which costs a minimum of £59 a year in subscription fees. If you don't want to pay (and don't need 20GB of space), then Dropbox is an excellent free alternative.

You'll need to sign up for a Dropbox account at www.dropbox.com, but then you'll be able to share and sync your files, documents, photos and videos between all your devices. A desktop client can be installed on your PC or Mac and the mobile version can be used on the iPad, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch. Free accounts offer 2GB of cloud space but you can pay for more if you need it.
Score: 4.5
Download it from iTunes

Evernote

If, like us, you have the memory of a lobotomised goldfish, your iPhone can prove a useful tool for jotting down an electronic note. The iPhone's built-in Notes app is pretty limited, though, so, rather than laboriously sending yourself an email, use the ever-so-useful Evernote instead.

It's a highly flexible tool for making text, voice or picture notes of all kinds while you're out and about. Plus it syncs with both the Web version of itself and, if you choose to install it, a desktop client, meaning that you always have access to the same information, wherever you happen to be at the time.
Score: 4
Download it from iTunes

Opera Mini

Safari comes fully integrated into your iPhone, so why would you want to install an alternative browser, like Opera Mini? Well, try tabbed browsing for a start. Or how about remembering passwords, so you don't have to log into specific sites and services all the time? Opera Mini can do that too. You can also control image quality, for faster browsing.

Best of all is the 'speed dial' feature, which lets you add tiles representing your favourite sites to your Opera Mini home page, so they're never more than a tap away. It's not all good news, though. The current version is curiously slow on the iPhone 4 and is clearly in need of an update.
Score: 3.5
Download it from iTunes

Winner: ZumoCast

Most of us sync music and videos between our iFellow and our computer. The trouble is that the iPod part of your iDevice is only compatible with certain media-file types and has limited storage.

What if there were a way of accessing your entire media library from your phone wherever you are and whenever you like? Well, that's what ZumoCast lets you do. In conjunction with a desktop client, it can stream -- and convert, if necessary -- movies and tunes from your PC to your handset via your home network and beyond, over the Web.

ZumoCast is currently free, but its iTunes Store page warns that this will not be the case forever. Our advice is to download it for nothing while you still can.
Score: 5
Download it from iTunes