Hate the thought of banging elbows in the madness that is Christmas shopping? Want to snap up a bargain in the New Year Sales but can’t face it? Avoid the shops, escape logging on to a computer, and help both your sanity and your wallet with these apps in our round-up.
But you won’t miss out if you don’t have a mobile phone, as you can always take advantage of their full websites instead of the app versions. We’ve also saved you the hassle of trying out a couple of price comparison apps – we’ve a couple of good ‘uns and one that despite sounding good, isn’t worth your time.
For more app recommendations from Which? read our app reviews.
Best 5 free apps for Christmas shopping
HotUKDeals and Basket Buddy – the best for deals and vouchers online and the high street
Bring the best deals straight to your mobile phone with the new official HotUKDeals app from the guys behind the popular HotUKDeals.com website. You can find the latest bargains, voucher codes and freebies from familiar local and online stores submitted by and voted for by other HotUKDeals users. It’s easy to use, spot the best (hottest) deals, and you can easily browse for deals and vouchers by retailer, heat, or category. You can use the search feature to check online and deals found in local stores, too. HotUKDeals is free to download from the following links for Android devices and iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Apple iOS 5.0 and up). Read our HotUKDeals [App of the week] post for more. Basket Buddy is the second app from the HotUKDeals team, which adds a little more convenience over the main app and is dedicated to helping you find the deals closest to you, right now. It uses the GPS on your phone to display stores on a map where other users have found what they think is a bargain. Search for local deals, including those based on your current location – it’s a great way to check if any nearby shops are selling products at their own in-store bargain price. Although it is more suited to deals on grocery shopping, which is why we’ve only featured it alongside the main HotUKDeals app. Basket Buddy is free to download from the following links for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).
ShopSavvy (Barcode Scanner and QR Code Reader) – use to check high street against online prices
The ShopSavvy app is a barcode scanner and QR code reader. It’s one for use when you’re out in the shops – to check a product’s price, you’ll need to be able to scan its barcode; it’ll then list any results it finds for retailers online and near your location. You can view scans from other users and add your own too. It’s easy to use and references popular and lesser-known online retailers, but I think it’s best for checking prices on the latest DVDs, CDs, games, and books. But it feels a little limited for some products and that it might work better for American users – we tried it out on several items, including a packet of popular brand name cereal, and it didn’t bring back results for supermarket websites. Still, it’s much better than Pricerunner’s effort, which only seems to link to Amazon and Amazon Marketplace – it’s one to avoid. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, I recommend checking out the ‘FIND’ range of apps as an alternative – see the bottom of this post for more details. ShopSavvy – available on Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) and Windows Phone.
eBay + eBay widgets – a great way to find bargain gifts
Install the eBay app on your smartphone and you can keep track of the auctions you’re bidding on so you don’t get outbid at the last second, or sneak in like a ninja to put in a winning bid in the auction’s dying moments. Want to raise some cash for yourself? You can also list items to sell through the app too. As well as brand new and used items from private sellers, there are tons of deals from retailer outlets – Argos, Zavvi, SportsDirect, and Currys, to name but a few. The eBay Daily Deals section could be a great way to save some pennies across many different categories so you can grab that designer handbag, pick up anything from a coffee machine to fragrances, a personalised cat collar, DVDs and games, or tech products like Windows 7 and 8 laptops, netbooks, games consoles, tablets, televisions, home cinema and audio, Blu-ray players, and much more.The eBay Official app is free to download from the following links for Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Apple iOS 4.3 and up), Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7, Phone 7.5 and Phone 8. eBay widgets (Android only) isn’t really a full app, but is a free add-on for Android devices which lets users add widgets like place menu shortcuts for ‘My eBay’, ‘Categories’, ‘Sell’, reminders, or the latest ‘eBay Deals’ to be displayed directly on the phone’s homescreen. iOS users shouldn’t feel hard done by, as there are dedicated apps for eBay Motors and eBay Fashion.
Groupon – good all-rounder for gifts
Groupon is best known for featuring local leisure, shopping, restaurant, and entertainment deals – you select the city or area you’d like to view the current deals for and it delivers daily emails to you. But it often features national offers, plus deals for both online and high street retailers. As well as some general local deals, it’s a great source for those that will help you give a gift with a difference – you’ll likely see deals for experience days, from hot air balloon rides to white water rafting, dance lessons, spa relaxtion days, short breaks and more.With the Groupon app, you can view and purchase the latest deals within the app. You can easily search by location and while don’t get the full range of Groupon deals here as it’s mostly experiences and getaways, in some ways this makes it much better suited to finding those that could make great gifts. You can use the app to keep track of and redeem any deals you purchase, rather than printing vouchers. Offers are sent via the app to your mobile each morning and discounts typically weigh in at 50-90%. And if you spot something you’d like someone else to buy for you, you can always share it using the social media plug-ins as a gentle but not so subtle hint. Groupon is free to download from the following links for Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Apple iOS 4.3 and up), Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, Phone 7.5, Phone 8, Windows 8 and RT (uses tile interface).
Amazon Mobile – now easier for regular shoppers
Amazon’s app is an improvement on Amazon’s mobile website, and makes it easier to search for and buy goods from this large e-tailer. Even better, rather than wasting precious moments typing in product names during your Christmas shopping spree, you can develop a barcode scanning addiction instead by using the simple barcode scanner tool. Amazon’s lightning deals, recommendations, and access to your wishlists and account are all available here, too. And we sometimes found it easier to use the ‘Recommended for you’ and barcode scanner than use the search bar. Once you have added all you want to your basket, you can follow a simple process to complete your purchase which will be confirmed with an email as you would when you use the website. Amazon Mobile is free to download from the following links for Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Apple iOS 4.3 and up), Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7, Phone 7.5 and Phone 8.
Other price comparison and voucher code apps
Voucher code apps: Voucher Cloud
This voucher app brings you discounts on online shopping and offline deals for dining out, leisure and entertainment, and free food and drink. It’s been rated more highly by its users than apps from the popular MyVoucherCodes.co.uk and VoucherCodes.co.uk (which are still worth a look). However, as a dedicated voucher app, it doesn’t have the range of the best and latest vouchers of say HotUKDeals, which has a much wider range and is best-suited for savvy online shoppers.
That said, on occasion there will be exclusive deals that are unique to the mobile network provider that you use. As well as online deals, it also presents vouchers for use locally – it uses the GPS on your mobile to check your location. It’s easy to browse the good-looking interface for vouchers, and these can be stored for use later – which may be handy when you’re out on the high street. VoucherCloud is available on Android, iOS (4.3 and later), Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7.
Price comparison: ‘Find’ comparison website and iOS app (Find… DVDs, Games, CDs, Books, Electricals)
The ‘Find’ websites, such as ‘Find-DVD.co.uk’, are great and compare prices from around a dozen of the most popular online retailers. You really could save a pretty packet using the websites and apps, particularly if you’ve a long list of prezzie requests for the latest film, music or book chart releases and gadgets. Even better, owners of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod (running 4.0 or later) can use the ‘Find’ series of apps to compare prices instead.
Apps are available for find-DVD, find-CD, find-Games, find-BOOK and FEG (find-ElectricalGoods). It’s a shame that none of the apps are available for Android devices – currently they’re only available for Apple iOS devices. It’s handy to be able to use an app, but it can sometimes feel a little limited compared to the ‘FIND’ websites.
- App reviews – get more app recommendations from Which?
- Best Buy mobile phones – try out the apps on our top scoring phones
- How we test mobile phones – find out what it takes to become a Best Buy