Digital note-taking is a must-have skill these days. You already take your Android phone everywhere, don’t you? There’s no point in carrying an additional notepad when you can install a notepad app instead.
But there are so many Android note-taking apps to choose from! And they aren’t all equal, which is why it’s important to pick the right one if you want to be an efficient digital note-taker. Here are the best free notes apps for Android, plus some tips to help you decide which one is the best fit for your needs.
1. Microsoft OneNote
After Microsoft OneNote went 100% free in 2015, it exploded in popularity as users flocked to it in droves. It has since proven itself as one of the most useful, full-featured, and powerful note-taking apps for Android devices.
There are plenty of lesser-known Microsoft OneNote features, like clipping from the web, inserting multimedia files, tfagging and searching notes, drawing with your finger, and more. Despite all that, it has an easy learning curve. Plus, it looks clean and modern.
Who should use this app? Microsoft OneNote is a multipurpose powerhouse—perfect for collecting and organizing long-term data like recipes, story ideas, and lecture notes. It’s also a great note-taking app for programmers. Not so great for quick one-off tasks and reminders. A smart choice for those who regularly use Microsoft Office.
Download: Microsoft OneNote (Free)
2. Dropbox Paper
Lately, I’ve come to think of Dropbox Paper as the best note-taking app for Android. Microsoft OneNote still wins in terms of sheer power and features, but Dropbox Paper strikes a delicate balance between usability, intuitiveness, collaboration, appearance, and performance.
Dropbox Paper is a notes app that stores every note on the cloud in your Dropbox account. Cloud storage means your notes are accessible on any device, anywhere, as long as you have internet access. If you don’t have internet access, you can still edit while offline and the changes will sync once you’re back online.
Yes, you’ll need a free Dropbox account to use Dropbox Paper! But it’s totally worth it.
Other notable features include notes sharing and online collaboration (so your friends and family can view and edit notes with you), folders for organization, checklists, due dates, annotations and comments, and integration with other productivity tools like calendars and Google Docs.
Who should use this app? Pretty much anyone except power users and those who prefer to take notes via stylus or pen. Dropbox Paper is both simple yet powerful, and is perfectly suited for most users.
Download: Dropbox Paper (Free)
TickTick is technically a to-do list app, but it has some neat features that allow it to be used like a notes app if you want.
Namely, each item in one of your to-do lists has a “Description” field that you can use for storing notes related to that item. Combined with folders, subtasks, tags, sorting, and search, TickTick can be a supremely powerful app for note-taking and notes management.
Other useful features include a built-in calendar view, task reminders, voice input, white noise generator, productivity timer using the Pomodoro technique, and real-time collaborative editing.
Who should use this app? Anyone who needs powerful to-do list capabilities in addition to note-taking features. TickTick can serve as a two-in-one app, allowing you to keep all of your digital data in one place and declutter your phone of unnecessary apps.
Download: TickTick (Free, Premium for $27.99/yr)
Evernote held the throne for several years prior to Microsoft OneNote’s popularity explosion, mainly because it was the first full-featured, multipurpose note-taking app to hit mobile devices.
It’s still a great option for power users, but Evernote isn’t special anymore. Sure, it has lots of interesting features like web clipping, scanning text in photos, cross-device synchronization, and powerful search support. It just isn’t as distinguished as it once was, especially with its pricing model.
Evernote Basic has a monthly upload limit of 60MB, a maximum note size of 25MB, restrictions on how many devices it can be installed on, none of the collaborative features, and other limitations. For full functionality, Evernote Premium starts at $7.99/mo.
Who should use this app? Evernote fulfills many of the same needs as Microsoft OneNote, but its best features are locked behind a paywall and that’s a major deciding factor between Evernote and OneNote. If you really don’t like Microsoft OneNote but need the same level of power, then use Evernote.
Download: Evernote (Free, Premium for $7.99/mo)
FiiNote is a multipurpose note-taking app that’s similar to both Microsoft OneNote and Evernote, but nowhere near as popular. It has support for both typed and handwritten notes, along with a number of other advanced features.
Calender? Check. Multimedia attachments and audio recording? Check. Deep organization? Infinite canvas? Note templates? Revision history? All check. The interface is a little bland but extremely functional. Very easy to use, even on a small-screen smartphone.
Who should use this app? I consider FiiNote to be a lesser version of both Microsoft OneNote and Evernote. If those two offer too much for you, then you may be happy with this one instead.
Download: FiiNote (Free)
6. Google Keep
Google Keep is great for quick notes and reminders. Need a shopping list? Want to track tasks for a weekend project? Prefer searching for notes rather than browsing through folders? Check out our article on tips for better Google Keep notes.
At first, Google Keep may feel strange and unlike any other note-taking app you’ve used, but give it a proper shot. There are good reasons why it does things the way it does, and once you get over that initial learning curve, you’ll start being able to use Google Keep in productively creative ways.
Who should use this app? Anyone who’s more concerned with organizing day-to-day tasks and reminders than long-term archives of in-depth notes and files. Especially useful for those who are deeply entwined with Google’s ecosystem, including Google Drive and Google Docs.
Download: Google Keep (Free)
ColorNote is a lot like Google Keep: simplicity is the name of the game and its main focus is offering the same kind of quick convenience you’d get from real-life sticky notes. Jot down a brief message, color code it, and you’re done.
What I like best about ColorNote is its widgeting options. You can have a widget with direct note-editing access, or you can have shortcut widgets that open up specific notes. Two note types are supported: lined notes and checklists.
Who should use this app? This app only serves one purpose. If you need quick notes that are temporary, it’s perfect. If you need to build up an archive of notes for long-term storage, skip it. ColorNote is too simple for that.
Download: ColorNote (Free)
8. Omni Notes
Omni Notes reminds me of Evernote’s mobile app from several years ago: simple but not minimal, clean and delightful to use, complete with all the fundamental features you’d expect from a note-taking app but not much more. In a word, Omni Notes is solid.
Some of its more notable features: the ability to merge notes, batch editing of notes, quick access widgets, color coding, sketch-note mode for drawing, and Google Assistant integration that lets you write notes just by saying “write a note [text].”
Who should use this app? It’s a lightweight app designed to be quick and fast without sacrificing too much organizational ability. Its also one of the few notes apps for Android that’s open-source, which could be a big draw for some users.
Download: Omni Notes (Free)
True to its name, Simplenote is one of the most lightweight notes apps for Android. If you’re tired of overly bloated apps with features you’ll never use, try Simplenote.
This means that Simplenote has no intention of being a powerhouse, all-notes-in-one app. It has some organizational features, like note tags, but if you plan on keeping thousands of notes, look elsewhere. Quick and easy is the name of the game here.
Backups, synchronization, and sharing are all available if you create a free Simplenote account.
Who should use this app? Simplenote is all about speed and efficiency. It’s especially good for older phones that just don’t have the hardware to keep up with modern feature-heavy apps. Use it if you just want your notes app to stay out of your way.
Download: Simplenote (Free)
Squid is a vector-based notes app for Android that eschews typing for handwriting. Using an active pen, stylus, or even your finger, you can write out your notes instead of cramping your thumbs on a keyboard. (But typed notes are possible if you need them.)
Squid can import PDFs, allowing you to mark them as you wish and then save them again. You can also cast your notes to a TV or projector using a Chromecast or another device that supports wireless streaming with Miracast.
Who should use this app? If you hate typing and prefer to write your notes by hand, this is the perfect app for you. Infinite paper size, vector-based strokes, and lots of flexibility. An active pen or stylus with a tablet is highly recommended.
Download: Squid (Free)
What Is the Best Free Notepad App for Android?
Picking the right app can boost your productivity and make you feel engaged with your notes. Picking the wrong app can cause frustrations, hinder your creativity, and make you lose important details. Make the right choice!
For me, that means using ColorNote for quick jots and Dropbox Paper for longer-term storage for recipes, project ideas, and general notes. Your needs may differ. Regardless, be sure to heed these tips for being a more efficient note-taker.