We test out the best music streaming services available for iPhones, Android smartphones and other mobile devices, so you can stream or download a massive selection of songs when out and about.
The current selection of music streaming services are more varied than ever, with options from big names like Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Prime Unlimited and Apple Music to Qobuz and Tidal. You can still buy your music to own, sure, but with access to tens of millions of songs for under a tenner each month, a streaming service can often be your best option. Especially for quickly accessing your favourite music across your full range of devices.
Now, it’s not just the price you need to consider when picking a music streaming service, but also which smart devices it will work on. Not to mention the sound quality on offer and, of course, what artists you can get access to.
We’ve tested and reviewed the best music streaming apps available out there for your mobile devices, whether you use iPhone, Android, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod and beyond. Make sure you don’t blast your tunes from those tinny phone speakers either; check out our round-ups of the best wireless speakers and headphones below.
There is a reason the Spotify name is the first to leap to mind when you think of online music. This wasn’t only one of the first audio streaming services to hit the mainstream, but it remains one of the best. That’s confirmed by the 50 million paying subscribers that have already joined the Spotify party.
The Spotify service not only gives you access to millions of streamed tracks, plus your own music, but it also works across a multitude of devices. Spotify will learn your tastes as you listen and offer recommendations based on your choices. Or you can see what your friends are listening to and check out their playlists via a Facebook sign-in option.
Spotify is available as a free service, with adverts of course – although you can’t download any music for offline listening. You can also subscribe for £10 per month for the full premium service, which means no ads and near limitless track downloads, or £15 per month for a family of six to gain full access. This works across a whole host of devices, from phones to smart speakers to cars and TVs.
Supported devices include (deep breath): Amazon Echo, Android, BlackBerry, Boxee, cars, Chromecast, iOS, Linux, MeeGo, Microsoft Windows, Openpandora OS X, PlayStation, Roku, S60 (Symbian), Samsung Smart TV, Sonos, Squeezebox, Telia Digital-tv, TiVo, WD TV, webOS, Windows Mobile, Withings Aura Home entertainment systems and cars via Spotify Connect.
This is another high-quality music streaming service which offers over 43 million songs, complete with on-screen lyrics. You’ll even get access to exclusive songs from Deezer NEXT, which aims to help emerging artists get spotted, plus podcasts and live football commentary.
Like Spotify you can get recommendations of artists you might like, and we particularly like the Flow feature which shuffles tracks from your library and mixes in new tracks too.
In the case of the premium Deezer+ option, you get to download songs for offline listening and also upload your owned music for listening to in high-quality on the move. Deezer costs £10 per month for this Premium+ service, or £15 per month for a family of up to six users (complete with filters to keep naughty words out of your kids’ ears). There’s also a Deezer Hi-Fi subscription option (£15 per month) which offers High-Res FLAC quality tracks, for streaming on the go.
Deezer is available on PC, Mac, Android, iOS, TVs, sounds systems and in cars.
Apple Music is a way for those that enjoy iTunes to combine their current music collection with Apple’s cloud services of songs. That means you get access to millions of songs, videos and exclusive 24 hour Beats 1 radio stations, complete with lyrics on screen as you listen.
Siri is integrated into Apple Music, meaning you can make voice requests for things like “best songs to rock out to”, for recommendations that suit your mood.
Apple Music starts at £10 per month for one user and goes to £15 per month for a family of six, or you can save £20 by paying for the year up front.
The Apple Music service is available on iOS, Mac, PC and Android devices.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited is more popular than ever now that it works on Echo devices. But to be clear it is standalone and separate to Prime Music, which is included as part of a Prime subscription. The full service means access to over 40 million songs available for streaming via the Amazon Music app.
If you’re a Prime member, you’ll have to pay £7.99 a month or £79 for the year for access to the Unlimited catalogue. For non-Prime users, the service costs £10 per month, or £149 for the year for a family of up to six.
Amazon Music Unlimited is available on Android, iOS, Mac, PC, Web Player, Echo devices, Amazon Fire devices and some home entertainment systems and cars.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music offers a pretty impressive 35 million songs to its users for online streaming. But it also takes advantage of Google’s mighty servers and allows each user up to 50,000 of their own songs to be uploaded and stored for playback across devices anywhere. This is a service reserved for subscription paying users only.
The music streamer will learn your tastes and make recommendations based on your listening habits to help you discover new music. It also offers a radio option to allow for different types of listening. There is a free version too, which is able to make recommendations to help you find new music.
Google Play Music is £10 per month and works on Android, Mac, iOS and PC.
If high quality music is what you’re after, then Jay-Z’s Tidal could be a more suitable service for you. This music streaming service offers CD-quality lossless songs and has a quickly-expanding catalogue of musical options available, with around 25 million songs in 2017, including some Jay-Z related exclusive releases. The quality, at FLAC/ALAC is up to 1411kbps, 44.1kHz/16-bit, means this is one for the audiophiles out there – alongside Deezer’s HiFi subscription service.
Tidal is a bit more pricey at £20 per month for Tidal HiFi quality tracks but there is a normal 320kbps quality option for £10 per month. Tidal works on limited devices but includes iOS and Android.
This high quality streaming service and store launched in France but has since hit the UK, bringing with it 16-bit/44.1kHz streaming quality music. This also offers downloads of albums, so you can own them in top quality.
Qobuz has the Led Zeppelin debut album at FLAC lossless quality for £19.64, for example. But a monthly subscription at high quality will cost you £20 per month. Qobuz works on iOS, Android, Sonos, Samsung and Astell & Kern audio kit.
This one has become more of a download service these days, but was once true streaming so deserves an honourable mention. As one of the original high fidelity audio services Linn Records also offers one of the best quality services.
Audio quality is taken to the next level, with 24-bit Studio Masters downloads at up to 192kHz. You might suffer if you want more mainstream audio as this now only offers Linn Records music at that high quality – but if you’re a jazz fan then you’re in for a treat.
Linn Records offers downloads from £7.50 for compilations to new albums for £18.
New service Playster offers a massive selection of audiobooks to stream on the move, as well as a pretty decent collection of music. It’s not cheap, however; a premium subscription costs £25 per month, if you want the whole package. We’re not a huge fan of the app design either, although you get plenty of options including the ability to cast to surrounding devices.
Check out our Playster vs Audible vs Kobo comparison for all you need to know.