As mobile devices become more powerful, app sizes increase as well. While 8GBs of space was plenty on early smartphones, it’s nearly impossible to use a 16GB device today, even if you take steps to free up space on your Android device.
Whether you’re using an older phone with limited space or just want slim apps that won’t bog down your device, we’ve got you covered. Here are great apps in a variety of categories that clock in under 10MBs, yet still rock.
Note: These download sizes come from the apps’ Play Store pages. The install size may vary on your device.
Swipe for Facebook (3MB)
Facebook’s app sucks. It drains your battery, runs constantly in the background, chews up a lot of data, and most important for our discussion, takes up a ton of space. Even if you’re an avid user, you don’t have to put up with this nonsense to use Facebook on your phone.
Swipe for Facebook is such a better solution. At just a few megabytes, it provides a wrapper to Facebook’s mobile website, with several enhancements over using the site in your default browser. You can enable notifications, customize the theme, change the news feed order, and much more.
Combine all this with the fact that Swipe doesn’t require dozens of risky permissions, and you have the best way to use Facebook on Android.
Download: Swipe for Facebook (Free)
Smart Launcher 3 (4MB)
Downloading a custom launcher is one of the best ways to customize your Android device. They give you cool features and aren’t as limited as the stock launcher, but many popular launchers are loaded with features and carry big file sizes. Smart Launcher 3 is the solution for a minimalist.
No-nonsense is the motif of Smart Launcher — you won’t find a complex feature set with this one. It automatically organizes your apps into a few broad categories, gives you quick actions to common features on the main screen, and allows for plenty of theme customization.
With low resource requirements and a unique feature set, this is the launcher to try if you don’t care about the granular tweaks of other choices.
Download: Smart Launcher 3 (Free)
Pulse SMS (7MB)
The stock Android text messaging app isn’t too great. It looks boring, doesn’t let you customize conversations on a per-contact basis, and won’t let you take your conversations elsewhere. There are several great SMS apps, but we think Pulse SMS is the best for most people.
Available free with no ads, Pulse offers a simple interface that’s also as customizable as you need. For a small in-app purchase, you can use Pulse’s apps on the web or your Android Wear device to send your text messages from anywhere. With so many more features than your stock app in such a tiny package, Pulse SMS is a no-brainer upgrade.
Download: Pulse SMS (Free)
Opera Mini (4MB)
Like launchers, many of the best Android browsers (like Chrome and Dolphin) take up tons of space on your device. Opera Mini clocks in at just a few megabytes but offers an attractive package.
Just like its desktop counterpart, Opera on mobile is a great browser that’s often overshadowed by its more popular competitors. The Mini version focuses on minimizing data usage, yet still offers powerful features like a video downloader, private browsing, and smart Wi-Fi downloads. We’ve taken a look at Opera Mini’s data compression, if you’re interested in more info.
Download: Opera Mini (Free)
Weather (MacroPinch) (5MB)
There’s no shortage of free weather apps for Android. While most pack in all sorts of charts, radars, and information you don’t care about, the simply-named Weather from developer MacroPinch doesn’t waste your time or storage space.
Weather includes everything you’d expect, including automatically retrieving the weather for your location, animated weather conditions, hourly and weekly forecasts, and widgets. Chances are, that’s all you need when quickly checking the weather on your phone.
Download: Weather (Free)
Google Opinion Rewards (6MB)
Did you know that Google will pay you to answer a few questions? Using the Google Opinion Rewards app, which only takes up a few megabytes on your phone, you’ll receive occasional surveys about places you’ve visited and other preferences. The surveys pay with Play Store credit, which you can redeem for paid apps.
Of course, this app won’t provide a stable side income, but every Android user should have it installed to make a few bucks. Check out our guide to making the most with Google Rewards to maximize your earnings.
Download: Google Opinion Rewards (Free)
If Google Calendar didn’t come pre-installed on your device, aCalendar will get the job done.
It can hook into Google Calendar, offers agenda and day/week/month/year views, includes 48 different colors for events, and full-screen widgets for your home screen. Its only weakness is that you need the $5 paid version for utilizing business features like inviting attendees to meetings and setting your status to free or busy. Most basic calendar users shouldn’t need these, though.
Download: aCalendar (Free)
On a phone with limited space, you know the struggle of juggling installed apps so you can make space for a new one. DiskUsage, a tiny utility, takes the guessing out of finding what’s taking up space on your phone. It’s much more intuitive than using the app manager in your phone’s settings.
DiskUsage gives a graphical breakdown of what’s using your phone’s space, with the biggest items always on top. This lets you work on low-hanging fruit when it’s time to free space. You might not use this one all the time, but it’s a huge time-saver when you need it. It’s not limited to just apps, either — you can use it to locate large media files and caches on your device.
Download: DiskUsage (Free)
CCleaner is one of the most trusted tools for Windows cleaning, and its Android app is pretty good too.
Unlike most cleaning apps that pack a bunch of extra bloat that you don’t need, CCleaner provides a simple way to clean Android’s various caches and temporary files. The app also includes a storage analyzer to let you quickly see what file categories and apps are using the most space on your device.
Note that caches allow your device to load websites and media you’ve recently accessed more quickly, so you shouldn’t clear the cache obsessively because it could lead to slower performance. From time to time, though, clearing the cache is a fine idea for freeing up some space.
Download: CCleaner (Free)
Various Emulators (1-4MB)
We’re rounding out this collection of tiny apps with some games. After all, just because you don’t have much space on your phone, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on it!
There are tons of great Android games, but most popular titles have huge installation sizes. Combine this with people’s varying tastes in video games and the fact that free games are often full of in-app purchases and ads, and we’re recommending that tiny phones get their gaming fix through emulation.
No matter if you want to play NES, Genesis, or Game Boy Games, you can easily turn your Android into a retro gaming machine. The emulator apps for older systems are only a few megabytes, and ROMs are typically under 1 MB on the NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Sega Genesis. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve provided a sampling of the best games you can emulate on Android, including old Pokemon games.
We’ll provide links below to several popular emulation apps, but you’re on your own for finding ROM files.
- Nostalgia.NES (2MB, Nintendo Entertainment System)
- Snes9x EX+ (2MB, Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
- My OldBoy! (1MB, Game Boy / Game Boy Color)
- gGens(MD) (4MB, Sega Genesis) [No longer available]
Small in Size, Not Function
These ten apps prove that any phone can run great apps. At just over 40MB total for all these combined apps, you’ve downloaded a solid app in almost every category you could need. This gives you some breathing room so that uninstalling apps isn’t a daily occurrence. Hopefully you can upgrade to a new phone soon, but these will hold you over until you do!
For saving even more space, check out seven awesome photo storage services.
Which small but powerful apps keep your phone running? We’d love to see your favorite tiny apps down below in the comments!
Originally written by Jessica Coccimiglio on February 24th, 2015.