Most downloaded iOS apps of 2021 revealed — from free iPhone games to Apple Arcade

iPhone 13 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's 2021 App Store Awards picked 15 of the best iOS apps and games on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and even its Apple Watch, but the list of most downloaded iOS apps of the year paints a different picture.

Announcing (opens in new tab) the 2021 App Store Award winners, the Cupertino tech giant named Toca Life World (opens in new tab) iPhone app of the year, along with League of Legends: Wild Rift (opens in new tab) being the iPhone game of the year. Video editing app LumaFusion is the iPad's app of 2021, while MARVEL Future Revolution was crowned the iPad's game of the year. 

According to Apple's charts of most downloaded iOS apps and games of 2021 (via MacRumors), don't expect to see these award-winning apps top the list of free or paid iOS apps. While many are obvious, including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram being the most downloaded free iPhone apps, some apps that made the cut may surprise you — such as Call of Duty: Mobile being beaten by Project Makeover.

Check out the list of most downloaded apps below, from free to paid iPhone and iPad apps. 

Most downloaded free iPhone apps

  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Messenger
  • Google Maps
  • Gmail
  • Zoom
  • Amazon Shopping

Most downloaded paid iPhone apps

  • Procreate Pocket
  • HotSchedules
  • The Wonder Weeks
  • TouchRetouch
  • Facetune
  • Shadowrocket
  • 75 Hard
  • Dark Sky Weather
  • Autosleep
  • SkyView

Most downloaded free iPhone games

  • Among Us
  • Roblox
  • Project Makeover
  • Call of Duty: Mobile
  • Subway Surfers
  • High Heels!
  • Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  • Water Sort Puzzle
  • Shortcut Run
  • Bridge Race

Most downloaded paid iPhone games

  • Minecraft
  • Heads Up!
  • Bloons TD 6
  • Monopoly
  • Geometry Dash
  • My Child Lebensborn
  • Plague Inc.
  • True Skate
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Incredibox

Most downloaded free iPad apps

  • YouTube
  • Zoom
  • Disney+
  • Netflix
  • TikTok
  • Google Chrome
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Gmail

Most downloaded free iPad apps

  • Procreate
  • GoodNotes 5
  • Notability
  • Duet Display
  • Toca Kitchen 2
  • Toca Life: Hospital
  • LumaFusion
  • Shadowrocket
  • Affinity Designer
  • Toca Life: Vacation

Most downloaded free iPad games

  • Among Us
  • Roblox
  • Project Makeover
  • Phone Case DIY
  • Subway Surfers
  • Hair Challenge
  • Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  • Tiles Hop - EDM Rush
  • Blob Runner 3D
  • Bridge Race

Most downloaded paid iPad games

  • Minecraft
  • Bloons TD 6
  • Geometry Dash
  • Monopoly
  • Five Nights at Freddy's
  • Stardew Valley
  • Plague Inc.
  • Human: Fall Flat
  • Ultimate Custom Night
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Most downloaded Apple Arcade games

  • The Oregon Trail
  • NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition
  • Sneaky Sasquatch
  • Sonic Racing
  • SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit
  • Skate City
  • PAC-MAN Party Royale
  • Cut the Rope Remastered
  • Hot Lava
  • Angry Birds Reloaded

There you have it. Apple Arcade has continued to grow its catalog of games, featuring brilliant titles including Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, Fantasian, The Pathless, and more. However, there is room for improvement, so here's why It’s time Apple gave a damn about gaming

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.