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You don’t need Internet access for your phone to be useful. With the right amount of planning, you’ll have something to read, something to listen to, tools for getting around, and even access to Wikipedia and Twitter. All without a data plan.

Don’t believe me? Check out these apps.

We’ve talked about how you can ditch your mobile data plan to save money Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet How much are you paying for calls and mobile Internet? Is your iPhone really worth that type of outlay? Do you use your Android tablet enough to justify paying over $50 a month? Read More , but even if you’re not planning to do that, there’s a chance you’ll end up away from a connection at some point. Fear not — with the right apps installed, you’ll be able to get all sorts of use out of your phone without Internet access.

I didn’t have a smartphone until this year, and even now that I’ve got one, I’ve yet to pay for a data plan. The motivation is partially economic: I don’t like adding ongoing expensese to my life 5 Genius Money-Saving Tricks You Probably Didn't Know 5 Genius Money-Saving Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Sometimes it seems that no matter how much money we earn, we never have enough. How does this happen? And how do you fix it? Read More . But the other reason is most of the things I use my phone for work perfectly well offline.

Here are the apps that let me do that. They might not cover all of your uses, but hopefully it’ll be a starting point to get you thinking about whether you really need a data plan or not.

Read The News Offline: FeedMe

I spend a lot of time reading about tech and the world, and I’ve built up a massive collection of RSS feeds to let me do that. It’s basically my morning paper, just pulled in from a wide variety of sources. You should set one up too Newspaper 2.0 - Your Guide to RSS Newspaper 2.0 - Your Guide to RSS There’s a web technology that can find information on almost any subject on the Internet and spoon-feed it to you. With RSS you can read every article offered by any particular blog. Read More , if you haven’t.

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My preferred way to read is on my Macbook Is ReadKit The Perfect Reeder Replacement For Mac? (Yes) Is ReadKit The Perfect Reeder Replacement For Mac? (Yes) Still looking for the perfect Mac RSS reader? It's here. Read More , with a cup of coffee, at my kitchen table. When I’m on the road, though, I turn to the amazing FeedMe app.

feedme-offline-rss

This is a streamlined version of the official Feedly app, with one key additional feature I like best: full offline syncing. Set this up to sync, and you won’t even have to think about it: all text and images are synced to your phone, meaning you can go through your feeds without Internet access.

The app syncs with Feedly, InoReader, Bazqux, and The Old Reader, so if you have an account at any of those sites, you should grab this app.

Listening To Podcasts Offline: PlayerFM

There’s no better way to make a long trip short than to turn on a podcast you love, but way too many podcast players for Android require an active Internet connection to play back your shows. PlayerFM is an attractive free podcast app with no ads and an extensive catalogue of shows to browse.

Even better: it gives you online access to the latest episode of all your subscriptions, and you can optionally configure it to download even more.

player-fm-offline-podcasts

We’ve talk about the best Android podcast managers before 4 App Showdown: Which Is the Best Android Podcast App? 4 App Showdown: Which Is the Best Android Podcast App? There are great podcast apps available for Android, whether you're willing to pay for an app as good as anything you'd find on an iPhone or want a polished, free app. Read More , but to me, none of them worked quite as well as this one. Give it a spin.

Travel Offline: Google Maps

It’s maybe the single biggest change smartphones have made in our lives: we’re never lost anymore. You might think living without a data plan would change things, but it really doesn’t if you’ve prepped enough. I’ve shown you how to download offline maps in Google Maps for Android How to Download Offline Maps in Google Maps for Android How to Download Offline Maps in Google Maps for Android Want to use Google Maps without an Internet connection? This is how. Read More , and you should absolutely use this feature.

google-maps-offline

Things have only gotten better since that article, with support for looking up locations within your offline maps and support for directions. There are some kinks to work out, and many prefer other apps What's the Best Maps and Navigation App for Android? What's the Best Maps and Navigation App for Android? Using the rights maps and navigation app can mean the difference between making it to your appointment on time or being late -- so we examine the best of them for you! Read More for just that reason, but to me, this is all the offline map functionality I need. It might be for you too.

Bus and Train Schedules: Transit App

Of course, if you’re trying to get around in the city, directions aren’t enough: you need to know when the bus or train is going to come. Offline Google Maps won’t give that to you, but Transit App will. We’ve explained why this app is aweome before Get Transit Times Instantly With Transit For Android Get Transit Times Instantly With Transit For Android Find transit stops near you, complete with up-to-the-moment schedules. Read More , and a big part of that is ease of use — just open the app, and you’ll see when public transit will arrive at stops near you.

transit-app-offline-transit

A big part of the appeal is the live tracking, which requires an Internet connection. But if you’re not online at the moment, Transit is still a useful way to see the official schedules of transit lines near you, since it still shows you these when you’re offline. It’s even better if you’ve already set Google Maps to download your current city — Transit uses Google’s service for its built-in map, and offline content is supported.

I live near Portland, Oregon and use this every time I head into the city for work. If this app supports the transit system near you, you can expect the same functionality without anything in the way of setup.

Read Wikipedia Offline: Kiwix

Ever since The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, it’s been every geek’s dream: a handheld guide to all human knowledge. Internet access gives you that, but when you’re away from a tower, Kiwix is the next best thing. It downloads all of Wikipedia for you.

We’ve talked about tools for downloading Wikipedia 4 Free Tools to Download and Take Wikipedia Offline 4 Free Tools to Download and Take Wikipedia Offline Read More before, but none that fit in the palm of your hand. Give this one a shot.

Internet via Text Messages: SMSmart

Imagine if you could check out recent tweets or even read current headlines, all without a data connection. SMSmart makes this possible by using text messages to request and receive data. If you have an unlimited texting plan but no data, this app is perfect for you.

I suggest setting this up while online, and only using it when all else fails. But it’s a great way to access just a few pieces of the web while on the road without a data plan. You’ll have quick access to directions, Wikipedia excerpts, Yelp, and even Twitter.

We talked about a few other tools while exploring ways to use the Internet without a data plan These 5 SMS Services Offer You the Internet Without a Data Plan These 5 SMS Services Offer You the Internet Without a Data Plan Going without a mobile Internet plan seems almost impossible. But there are a class of tools that use the humble SMS to make the web available to people who can't afford a data plan. Read More , but this was by far the most complete option. It’s probably not a good idea to use outside the US, though, unless you have an unlimited texting plan for contacting that country.

How Do You Use Your Phone Offline?

We’ve outlined more than a few clever ways to reduce mobile data usage Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage If you’re on a limited mobile data plan, you may find opening your bill to be harrowing experience. Is there an overage charge? How much? And why was there so much data used? While the... Read More over the years, but we always love to learn more. What apps do you use to make your Android phone more useful offline? Let’s talk about more such apps and tips in the comments below.

Oh, and remember: when all else fails, try to find free WiFi How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere Public wireless networks are becoming more and more popular as a means of attracting people to a particular business or service, and this is just one of the many ways in which free (or almost... Read More . I personally like to stand outside a Starbucks for a while as all my offline apps refresh — let me know any other tips you might have.

  1. Pravin Kumar S
    December 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Offline? Yeah, I use my phone to heat my room during winter.

  2. Judah Richardson
    December 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Great list! Don't forget BitTorrent Sync, which syncs your files across your devices so you always have them even if you're offline.

    • Justin Pot
      December 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      That's a great one! Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. m-p{3}
    December 15, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Pocket allows to store articles to read later, stored on the device and in a nice to read format.

    The official Wikipedia app also allows to save article to read later without Internet connection.

    • Justin Pot
      December 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      I love Pocket, use it every day, thanks for reminding me.

  4. Testertime
    December 15, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    As for offline maps and navigation, the app "Maps.me" deserves a mention too. I didn't like that Nokia Here maps wanted me to sign up for an account, so I had choosen this app. It's also a good alternative if you aren't happy with Nokia Here.

    • Justin Pot
      December 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      I've tried Maps.me, never enjoyed it quite as much as Google, but it's a great option.

  5. Read and Share
    December 15, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Two offline apps that I use a lot when traveling:

    1. Nokia's HERE maps. One can download by country -- or in cases of huge countries - by state. No need to fuss with Google's clumsy "grab and save the portions you need when you have wifi". And no risk of downloaded maps disappearing after 90 days.

    2. Minipedia Offline -- another offline wikipedia. Visually pleasant -- has a lot of articles -- but not all.

    • Justin Pot
      December 15, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Two more great apps to look into, thanks!

    • Carles Mateu
      December 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Here is great, unless you try to use its "collections" and sync between here.com web and your mobile phone (or phones, I have two). It looses saved spots, mixes up collections (folders), a complete mess.

      For the rest, maybe the best offlne maps/navigator (used Maps.me also).

    • paaj
      December 17, 2015 at 7:17 am

      HERE maps are great. I'll second that!

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