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Paging through a magazine is a terrific leisurely activity and a great way to stay informed and pass the time. The best unlimited magazine subscription apps make it easy to stay current with the latest issues on a single device without having to carry around a stack of them everywhere you go.
What to Look for in a Magazine Reader App
These apps are designed to make reading a digital magazine just as easy as browsing through a physical one. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when they throw in a few extra features as well. Here are the most important features your magazine reading app should have:
- Excellent Selection: The greatest feature of these readers is that they make the latest issues available to you the instant a publisher releases them. The best magazine reader apps also offer you a huge variety, from well-known titles down to smaller niche magazines. Whether you like gossip rags or magazines spanning more general categories like technology, politics, sports, or fashion, any digital magazine reader app worth its weight will make all of them available to you and not just focus on the most popular ones. A few also have books and audiobooks, making them perfect for reading enthusiasts across the board.
- Device Compatibility: These apps should be available for both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, so they’re available to the broadest audience possible. Bonus points if they also allow you to read from your desktop or laptop. We also favor readers that offer cloud storage with cross-device syncing, so your magazines are available to you (and keep track of which page you’re on) no matter which device you use.
- Fair Pricing Options: Most e-magazine reader apps are free but have you pay for each individual magazine you want a la carte. This is the best option for casual readers who only need one or two magazines per month. However, for avid magazine readers, options with a monthly subscription and unlimited access are better, as they give you access to all of their content without limits.
- Ease of Use: The best digital magazine apps have an intuitive interface with clearly labeled options for shopping, reading, and accessing your settings. The app you choose should also be able to remember where you last left off, let you pop out in a bird’s-eye view to move around, and let you customize the text and background options for a more effortless reading experience.
In the UK at least, there are currently two best unlimited magazine subscription services to consider: Magzter and Readly. They both offer an unlimited subscription for £7.99 a month, although Readly’s offering is far more straightforward.
With Readly, your subscription will allow unlimited access to their entire catalog. Magzter offers their unlimited Magzter Gold service, however not all magazines in Magzter’s library are available in their Gold subscription. You have to look for the little yellow book symbol in the bottom right of the magazine’s thumbnail. Fortunately, you can apply a filter so only magazines available for free are visible, but this feature is tucked away.
If you tend to read a ton of magazines and you’re looking for the most affordable way to do so, Magzter (pricing varies) is the app to choose. The Magzter Lite plan lets you read five issues a month for $4.99 per month (or $49.99 per year), and the Magzter Gold plan gives you unlimited access to over 5,000 magazines and the ability to add up to four family members to your account for $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year). Magzter also offers an a la carte option, where you can buy individual issues or purchase a subscription solely for your favorite magazines.
Magzter offers best-selling magazine titles across 40 categories like fitness, entertainment, science, automotive, and more. The app uses a responsive layout, so all of your magazines will fill up your device’s screen and display properly—no more zooming or panning. You can read your issues offline, toss in a bookmark if you need a break, and even get a free unlimited reading at designated Smart Reading Zones, so make sure you keep your device’s GPS turned on. Magzter’s flexible plan options and Smart Reading Zones make it a great pick for those who want more control over how they pay for their magazines.
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If your family is full of magazine lovers, Readly ($9.99 per month) is the option that’ll cover everybody. With Netflix-style unlimited reading for up to five people on a single plan, everyone in your family can enjoy skimming through over 5,000 magazines. Readly even offers a Parental Control feature wherein you can block inappropriate magazines from ever reaching your kids.
Readly can remind you when new issues of your favorite magazines are available, and it makes it easy to bookmark and share magazines. The app’s Smart Search feature lets you use any keyword to find a specific magazine or article, and any magazine can be downloaded and read offline. Magazines are optimized for mobile reading, though you can also read them on your laptop or desktop computer. With its support for lots of family members, multiple operating systems, and unlimited access to magazines, Readly is the best choice for families.
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The biggest difference between these two best unlimited magazine subscription services is content. In a nutshell, Readly offers a more narrow range of premium titles, whereas Magzter Gold offers a far broader range, but not as many premium magazines.
A lot will depend on what you like to read. Many of the BBC titles like BBC Gardener’s World, BBC Music, and BBC Good Food are available on Readly, but not on Magzter.
Also, What HiFi, Stuff, The Spectator, Hello, and Homes and Gardens are available only on Readly, to name just a few.
And children’s magazines are well represented too like Match, Match of the Day, First News, and Horrible Histories. These are all sadly missing from Magzter Gold.
But there are also significant gaps in Readly’s range. For me, the most significant omissions are computer magazines. None of the big titles like PC Pro, Computer Shopper, and Custom PC are available, but these are all available on Magzter Gold. And more niche hobbies like woodworking are not represented at all, whereas Magzter Gold has The Woodworker, Good Woodworking, and a few others.
Another of my interests, cycling, is better represented on Readly but still has a decent selection on Magzter Gold including Mountain Bike Rider (MBR), Bikes Etc and impressively Cycling Weekly. But Cycling Plus is only on Readly.
Both Magzter and Readly allow you to download back issues, which is a nice bonus and means there is a huge wealth of content available.
Of course, the best way to see if the magazines you like are available is to take out a free trial (see links at end of article).
Reading the content
Apps are available on iOS and Android for both services and Readly also has a Kindle Fire and a Windows Phone app. Both services support adding family members under your subscription for no extra charge (4 extra for Magzter and 5 extra for Readly).
It’s possible to read on a phone, but a tablet with at least a full HD (or Retina) screen is far preferable. Most titles are simply digital versions of the magazines, which does mean there is little interactivity and you will often need to zoom in. A 12.9″ iPad Pro would be a perfect reading companion!
With both apps, you’ll spend some time initially finding magazines that you want to read and starring them. That’s clicking the star icon in both Magzter and Readly.
Actually reading the magazines is a similar experience on both apps, but the Readly app is much slicker overall. Firstly, you’re only presented with content included in your subscription, whereas with Magzter Gold, the opening screen is a news feed of articles they deem of interest. You need to choose the My Collections icon and then tap Faves to actually get to the magazines you’ve selected.
Both services allow you to download magazines for offline viewing and both services attempt to sync your position through a magazine across devices. Although this is not as reliable on Magzter.
Which is The Best Unlimited Magazine Subscription?
In a lot of ways, Readly is the clear winner but for me at least, it doesn’t let me read the magazines I like, so I ended up going with Magzter. If they could only broaden their range I would switch across, but for the time being, Magzter offers me far better value.
I’d suggest taking the trial on both services and finding which one lets you read the magazines you want.
- More mainstream magazines are available
- Apps more polished
- More magazines for children
- Available on a wider range of platforms
- Big gaps in content [See update at the top of the article]
- No parental controls
- Wide range of magazines available
- Sharing subscription more flexible than with Readly
- Some big titles missing
- Tries to impose its curated newsfeed
- No parental controls
If you have any questions about these best digital magazine subscriptions, please ask away in the comments section below.
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