Determining the best podcast apps for the iPhone isn’t a straight line.
Different people go for different features. Some are totally fine with Apple Podcasts, the default and go-to podcast listening app by Apple itself. Some are left wanting more features, including smarter queueing, better organization, and more playback options.
In today’s list, we’re listing down nine of the best podcast apps for iPhone users.
But before we jump into that, let’s knock off some housekeeping.
If we were to explain it in plain English, a podcast is an audio content made available on the internet. It’s the audio-only equivalent of blogs and YouTube channels.
If you’re new to the world of podcasts, boy are you in for a ride.
The experience of listening to podcasts is often preferred over, say, video because it’s a more passive and an intimate experience; the podcast host is quite literally speaking into your ears.
This explains the robust relationship podcast creators are able to build with their listeners. Among the biggest podcasters are Marques Brownlee (of MKBHD fame), Anna Faris, Stephen Dubner, Alaska Thunderfuck, and Joe Rogan – the latter even signed on for a reported multi-million-dollar exclusivity deal with Spotify earlier this year.
Apple Podcasts works like other podcast-listening apps. Using RSS feeds, it allows listeners to search, subscribe to, save, and archive podcast episodes.
Here’s what the Apple Podcasts app looks like.
Apple Podcasts allows you to discover new podcasts using a strong search functionality. It’s a beautifully designed app and optimized to work seamlessly with iOS. You can leave listener reviews on your favorite podcasts as well.
How do I download a podcast to my iPhone?
Many podcast apps – including Apple Podcasts – let you download podcasts for offline listening. This feature comes handy when you want to listen to a podcast on the road where you’ll have no access to the internet.
Here’s how you can do it on Apple Podcasts. The process should be similar to other podcast apps for iPhones, but note that it may vary.
Go to the podcast you want to download.
Find the episode either in Your Library or through search.
Tap or click the download button next to the episode’s name; or, if you see a plus button, tap or click it, then tap or click the download button afterward.
Once done, you’ll be able to listen to the episode even without internet.
It’s worth noting that there are apps that, like Apple Podcasts, let you automatically download podcast episodes.
The best podcast apps for iPhone
With all that out of the way, let’s jump into our list of the best podcast listening apps for iOS. If you’re looking for podcast apps for Android phones or the iPad, most of these apps are available cross-platform as well.
Our top pick is Pocket Casts, the most powerful FREE podcast listening app there is (thus far).
It’s the best option for iOS (iPhone/iPad) users thanks to a whole bevy of features. Premium plan available ($9.99/year).
Previously a paid app, Pocket Casts has had enormous success amongst podcast power-users – even at a premium. Now offering a completely free version, the app continues to be the best podcast app, period.
Features like customizable filters, advanced queueing, and cross-platform support make this a winsome app for anyone who considers podcasting a big part of their day-to-day.
Here are some more Pocket Casts features to know about:
Beautifully designed UX/UI
Intuitive “Discovery” page
Dark mode support
Pocket Casts is available in both Android and iOS.
Those who live in the Apple ecosystem will love Overcast. It’s simple, no-nonsense, and, well…Apple-like.
It doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of other apps listed on this article, but it’s worth noting that it commits to its simplistic approach. Its two core features are Smart Speed and Voice Boost, both of which help enhance the podcast listening experience.
What’s more interesting is that Overcast isn’t run by a big corporation, but by a singular programmer named Marco Arment. Now that’s impressive.
Overcast has a free, ad-supported version. If you want to remove the ads, you’ll have to pay the $10 yearly subscription. It’s available on iOS only.
Though relatively new to the game, Castbox offers a host of features that podcast listeners will love. It has a very good and intuitive app design, useful features like zen mode and podcast communities, and a nifty in-voice feature that works with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
Like other entries on this list, Castbox is free, with premium plans available to unlock even more features. It’s available on multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and Amazon Echo.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that Spotify is doubling down on podcasts. Apart from signing Joe Rogan, they also bought Gimlet Media (Reply All, Every Little Thing, Homecoming), one of the most popular media companies that produce podcasts.
Spotify users can access podcasts by going to the dedicated Podcasts section in the app or by searching podcasts (and episodes) using search.
Apple Podcasts is the default podcast app for the iPhone.
Though it’s not as good as it used to be, Apple Podcasts is included on this list based solely on its merits. The chief feature being its integration to the Apple ecosystem. With it, you can play your podcasts on your Apple Watch, Macbook, and Apple TV.
Much of the features you enjoy with other apps, Apple Podcasts made first. For example, Pocket Casts’ filter function feels like an evolution of Apple’s Stations.
Apple Podcasts comes with every iPhone out of the box – free.
RadioPublic offers a pretty sweet podcast hosting plan @ $12/mo. However, what many don’t know is that they have an even sweeter podcast listening app.
Featuring a handsomely designed UI, the app is intuitive and easy-to-use. It’s easy to find your way around, discover new podcasts, and access the ones you frequent. You can even add your own RSS feed if the podcast you’re looking for isn’t available yet.
RP makes all their money through other services, so you can enjoy premium-like features ad-free and free of charge. The app is available in both iOS and Android.
If you find yourself listening to a ton of podcasts on the reg, you’ll love Castro. They’re quite known for their inbox feature, which lets you queue up or archive podcast episodes. This is perfect for people who are subscribed to quite a number of podcasts.
Touted as “the podcast player for podcast lovers”, Castro is available on iOS. Advanced features are available for $19.99/year.
Can’t complete this list without the O.G. podcast player.
One of the earliest players in the space, Stitcher has perfected some of the staple features one expects from one of the best podcast apps for iPhones. There is strong support for car play, Amazon Echo, and cross-platform. Users can also curate podcasts into playlists to keep podcast listening organized.
Stitcher is free, but there’s an option to upgrade to a Premium, ad-free plan @ $4.99/mo.