Despite Evernote’s changes in pricing and tiers of service, the company’s Android app remains a wonderful productivity tool. The service as a whole may not offer the same value it once did, but Evernote for Android is still one of the best Android apps, period. The app’s clear, uncluttered interface makes using it intuitive. Mobile-specific features, such as snapping pictures of business cards or documents and automatically saving them as the appropriate file types, work reliably. Since the price change, however, the service has gotten harder to love, and my recommendation to choose Evernote as your go-to note-taking and syncing app isn’t as enthusiastic as it once was. While there are other options, none of them are as thorough, which means Evernote is still PCMag’s Editors’ Choice. You have to pay for the highest tier of service to get all the best features, however. At $69.99 per year, that takes serious consideration.
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Those in the market for their first note-taking app will do well to at least consider Microsoft OneNote before forking over so much cash for Evernote Premium. If you don’t know what you’re missing because you’ve never used Evernote, or you’re unlikely to become a power user, Microsoft OneNote’s free version is good enough.
This review looks at the Evernote Android app specifically, but it also includes a summary of the different tiers of service and their prices. PCMag’s review of the Evernote (Web) service covers the features, pricing, and plans in more depth.
Plans and Pricing
Evernote has apps for just about every major platform on the market, including Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Windows touch devices, Windows desktop, Mac, and Web. All these apps are free to download, but they all require an account to use.
Four tiers of service are available: Basic (free), Plus ($3.99 per month), Premium ($7.99 per month), and Business. Basic and Plus users don’t have access to as much functionality as Premium and Business users, and they get less online storage space, too.
With a free account, you can sync your Evernote notes across two devices only, as well as using the Web app. The two-device limitation is the biggest drawback of using the free account, and it’s one of the recent changes that have some users up in arms.
Evernote handles storage space by giving its users a per-month limit for new uploads that resets at the start of each month. Free account holders get the least, at just 60MB per month. If you don’t use the full 60MB, the remaining allowance does not roll over into next month. Plus users get 1GB of storage space each month for new uploads and have a max upload size of 50MB. Premium users get 10GB of space for new uploads each month, with a max file size of 200MB.
As a point of comparison, Microsoft OneNote has no feature restrictions on its free version. It uses OneDrive for storage, and that service gives users 5GB of space for free. Office 365$69.99 at Dell subscribers get 1TB of space, although that space is shared among other Office Online apps.
There are many other options for notetaking apps, but most of them are very basic. Simplenote, for instance, is totally free but also mostly devoid of features—as its name implies. It handles text notes only and doesn’t even include formatting tools. Another app, Zoho Notebook could be promising one day but at present is for mobile devices only. It doesn’t have any desktop apps or a Web app, although they are said to be in the works.
Features, Options, and Design
Evernote’s Android app has a clean design. It uses few colors, namely shades of green, black, and white. An optional passcode lock gives accounts a little extra security. In the settings a time limit option for how long the app can be closed before requiring the passcode again. It can be as fast as immediately or as long as five hours.
In the main interface is a plus sign that opens up your options for creating a new note. This new note can be a photo taken with your Android’s camera, an attachment, a reminder, a handwritten note, a text note, or a Work Chat note. The last is for Premium and Business members only; I’ll explain further in a moment. When creating a text note, there are additional options for uploading attachments, recording voice memos, setting a reminder on that note, and more.
A collapsed left menu gives you easy access to your most important notes and notebooks, as it contains a list of shortcuts you customize. From this menu, you can also get to a screen showing all your notes, all your notebooks, the settings, and a list of all your tags.
The Work Chat feature enables collaboration. It’s an instant messaging program that lets you talk to your Evernote collaborators without ever leaving the context of your work environment. Say you share an Evernote note with a colleague. You can have a chat conversation about the work while also viewing it, rather than toggling between the app where the work is kept and a separate communication app.
Finding notes and notebooks using the navigation is a breeze, but there’s a search tool if you can’t quickly locate what you need. The search capabilities are part of what make Evernote such a useful and productive app. It uses type-ahead search, finding results before you even finish entering your keywords.
The app also searches for text that appears in images. Say you take a photo of a whiteboard or a page of a book and upload it to your Evernote account. Every word becomes searchable. That feature works for members who use the service for free, as well as those who pay for accounts. Premium members can search uploaded office documents and PDFs, too.
In the Evernote Android app, formatting tools let you edit text to add boldface, italics, highlights, bullets, and so forth. Bullets, numbered lists, and checkboxes don’t work as smoothly as they could. You can add them to any single line, but those formats don’t work if you first highlight several lines of text and try to apply them.
An unusual but excellent feature is the ability to annotate images and PDFs right from the mobile app. You can type, draw arrows, or draw freeform on files.
Syncing happens automatically, but there’s also a button in the Android app that lets you force a sync should you need it. Evernote members who don’t pay for a Plus or Premium account can only sync their notes across two devices, as mentioned earlier. I would recommend Android users set the Evernote Android app as one of them because access and creating notes on the go is a huge part of what makes Evernote valuable. The other device would likely be a home or work computer. Free users can still use Evernote in a Web browser on any computer without it counting against the device limitations.
Microsoft OneNote doesn’t have device limitations for free users. Another competitor, Google Keep, also has no limit on how many devices you can use.
Evernote Premium members also get some exclusive features that are very handy on mobile devices. When you take a photo with Evernote, for example, there’s an option to automatically capture a document, which means Evernote will start to look for edges of the paper or business card that you’re photographing. If there’s text, it will autorotate the image so that the text appears upright. Evernote will also let you take multiple pictures and merge them into one final document, similar to how its sister app Scannable works. It will even give you some options for what kind of file it is, including choices for photos, documents, color documents, Post-it notes, and business cards.
Business cards can be fully digitized, too, meaning all the information is read using optical character recognition and put into a digital business card format. Again, this feature is limited to Premium and Business members.
Businesspeople might also like that they can turn any note into a presentation. Connect to any kind of projector or screen, and your Android easily turns your Evernote notes into something that looks much more professional.
Anyone, regardless of their tier of service, can share notes right from the Android app. When you share a note, you have many options, such as sending a link to the full note as a text message, emailing it, copying the link to the note so you can share it how you like, and much more, depending on what other apps you have installed.
Your Notes To Go
Evernote remains one of the best productivity apps, and it’s a longstanding PCMag Editors’ Choice. That said, I’m less enthusiastic about the value of the service than I once was. The full Evernote experience requires a $69.99-per-year Premium account. The free version is too limited, because it only syncs across two devices. And the mid-tier Plus model also lacks some of the features I would expect to see in a $35-per-year service.
Evernote is still the best there is, and the Android app remains a very strong piece of its suite of apps. But OneNote is a close second, and a service I would recommend people consider if they are newly in the market for a note-taking and syncing app.