How to Get Paid Apps for Free on Android

Learn the tricks to get the paid apps and games you want

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Amazon Underground was shut down in 2019. This page remains for archive purposes.

Nobody likes paying full price when they don’t have to. And when a little resourcefulness can get you some of the hottest paid apps for free, why should you settle for paying more? Here's how to get paid apps for free on Android and knock the price tags off of apps and games you’ve got your eye on. 

Not every method for getting paid apps for free involves the Google Play Store, which thoroughly scans for trojans and other nasty malware-infested apps. Be wary of where you find deals and what they’re offering, as downloading apps from outside the Play Store greatly increases the risk of unknowingly installing malware on your device.

Using App Discount Sites to Get Paid Games for Free

Perusing app discount tracking sites is probably the most straightforward approach to finding Android freebies. While such sites may not painstakingly chronicle every avenue for free apps, they're a respectable place to start, and a great option for those who don’t want to dedicate a lot of time to the endeavor.

Play Store Sales website homepage on the Google Chrome browser.

While these sites list a number of apps that have their prices slashed, as any bargain-hunter would no doubt appreciate, they tend to feature apps that are being offered for free.  

How to Get Paid Apps for Free Using Google Opinion Rewards

While this approach is not for everyone, some people are perfectly content to give Google a direct line into your personal preferences and fill out a few forms instead of spending money. If you’re one of those folks, this app is designed for just such an exchange.

The Google Opinion Rewards app is Google’s way of letting media and ad placement companies figure out marketing trends. It supplies this information to these customers by periodically providing surveys for users to take, and reimbursing them proportionally for the modest time outlay this involves. All you have to do to become one of these users is download the Google Opinion Polls app, enter some general demographic information (e.g. what age range you fall into) and you’re ready to go.

Survey page of Google Opinion Rewards on Android

The app drops you a push notification when a new poll is ready for you, and once you're done taking the survey, the app dumps credit into a tally on the app, next to a portal that takes you in the Play Store with your credit. The one catch is you have to work on the app’s timetable, meaning once a survey is sent out, you only have so many hours to fill it out before it’s gone.  

Using Amazon Underground to Get Paid Apps for Free

Amazon has long been striving to undercut Google’s presence on Android, and one way Amazon does so is through its own app store. To access Amazon’s store (and, by extension, Amazon Underground), you must manually install it first.

  1. On your Android device, download the APK file from Amazon’s site.
  2. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Install unknown apps.
  3.  From there, tap an app to allow to install unknown apps on and toggle the option on. If you’re not sure what to pick, choose Chrome.  
  4. Go back to the Amazon installer you downloaded and tap it. If you didn't specify another download location, it will be in your Download folder, which is accessible by going to Settings > Storage > Files > Download.

To pick up users, Amazon unveiled the Amazon Underground program, which employs a different monetization scheme for developers: Instead of making users pay for apps or in-app-purchases, users are shown ads on download and Amazon passes the revenue on to developers at a set rate per minute that users spend using the app. The idea is users are more willing to use ad-supported apps than paid apps, and developers are rewarded for keeping users hooked.

Home page for Amazon Underground Apps & Games on Chrome for Android

Amazon Underground isn't accepting any new apps and will shut down sometime next year, but users may still access previously listed apps. The easiest way to find these apps is to go to the Amazon apps & games page on your device’s browser, tap the app you want and it will open in your Amazon App Store. 

Use Developer Pages on Social Networks to Get Free Apps

There are a lot of aspiring developers out there, and one way they promote their work is by giving some of it away! Rather than running a “sale” with a 100% markdown directly in the Google Play Store, though, developers will disseminate promo codes to their most ardent fans.

These developers often find their fans by announcing giveaways where their fans are more likely to look: on the developer’s social media pages. Unless you know the names of the ones whose apps you’re most interested in, the best way to find developers is to find online communities where developers mingle.

For instance, if you search for “Android icon packs” on Google+, you’ll find a few rolling threads where icon pack creators go to market their wares, with many of them handing out a finite set of promo codes.

Reddit r/iconpacks subreddit on the Google Chrome browser

Other good social networks for finding developers are Reddit and XDA Developers. In the case of the latter, a lot of developers host their free apps directly on that platform as APK files, which you can install with the same steps as for installing the Amazon App Store above.

A good number of the promo code giveaways by developers are also compiled in an app by Neelam Bhanushali called "Apps sale", which basically reproduces a Google+ feed with the same objective.  

Apps Giveaway page on the Apps Sale app for Android by developer Neelam Bhanushali

Developer Beta Programs

The way beta testing is handled varies from developer to developer, but some will release free betas of apps they plan to sell later. You can find these apps by searching the Play Store for “beta”, “dev”, “testing” or similar terms and seeing what comes up. A good sign you’re on the right track is if you see the “Early Access” designation where the price is usually listed in the search results page, though the absence of this doesn’t mean there’s no beta program.

There are a couple of tricks you can use to refine your search for them, though. There's actually a dedicated section of the Play Store for Early Access apps called, aptly enough, “Early Access.” In the Play Store, from the home page, simply swipe the list of app categories under the list of different Play Stores to the left until you find “Early Access”.

Early Access section of the Google Play Store app for Android

Additionally, the Beta TestingCatalog app lets you browse all the apps that are currently holding open beta testing. It also lets you search the entire beta app catalog, so you can verify whether your favorite apps are recruiting testers.

TestingCatalog screen for the Beta TestingCatalog app for Android

Finally, you can also search for beta apps on the developer communities on social platforms like Google+ and Reddit.

There's no single set way developers offer beta programs, so you'll have to be tenacious and search a few different sources. The one downside is when the final release version is ready, developers often stop updating the beta version, essentially halting the progression of feature additions.