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AppAdvice's top 10 paid iPhone apps of 2015

While 2015 brought us many new products from Apple, such as the Apple Watch, iPad Pro, and Apple TV, there is still the reigning champion of mobile devices, and that is the iPhone, which many of you may have received over the holidays. And with iOS 9, many improvements were made under the hood that make the experience even better than ever before. But the thing that breathes life into the iPhone are the apps that developers make for it. So let’s take a dive into what we consider to be some of the best paid apps you can get on the iPhone App Store!

The AppAdvice Paid iPhone App of 2015

Enlight, $3.99, released Mar. 12, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

enlight

Ever since the iPhone came out, mobile photography has exploded in popularity. As they say, “the best camera is the one with you.” With the introduction of the App Store, there has been a huge marketplace for all kinds of photo editing apps on the iPhone, but why have many when you can just have a single Swiss Army Knife-type app with Enlight?

Enlight features a dark interface that helps you focus on your photographs, and it is lightning fast. Images can be taken from your Photo Library or a new capture, and there are full manual controls as well. There are many different tools in Enlight that will help you get the perfect picture, such as: Canvas, Image, Filters, Tools, Artistic, Brushes, Text, and Finalize. Like many other photo editing apps, Enlight covers all of the basics like cropping, skewing, rotating, adjustments, clarity, tilt-shift, blending, and those artistic filters.

However, there are many tools that you don’t find elsewhere as well, making Enlight stand out from the crowd. Such options include Refit, where you can crop the photo from the inside, which brings objects closer together without losing any important details in the image. There are tools for reducing noise, brightening underexposed photos, and proper corrections for tone, details, and color. The Finalize tool has the “Instafit” feature that is perfect for Instagram fans, as it applies bars on your image to make it into a square, and these bars are just highly blurred parts of the image itself. Even though Instagram now allows portrait and landscape, the bars are a fun way to add some flair to your photo’s presentation.

Enlight has become a staple for many iPhone photographers, and it is well worth the money.

Runner-Up

Horizon Chase – World Tour, $2.99, released Aug. 19, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

horizon-chase

Do you remember those awesome retro racing games back in the day and want to relive those awesome times? Then you must grab Horizon Chase – World Tour.

Horizon Chase sports a unique aesthetic, since it has a style that recreates the 16-bit look without sacrificing modern graphics and dynamic lighting and weather. The game has many tracks from real-world locations, and all of the cars are realistic. And if you played those old-school racing games, then your ears will be delighted with the rocking chiptune soundtrack by Barry Leitch.

There are about 73 race tracks that are split up into eight different cups all over the globe. A map of the track is shown so you can get an idea of how it will be beforehand, and it also helps you decide on what car to use. Bonus tracks are available as well, where you can earn upgrades or new cars if you place in the top three. Controls are simple and intuitive, and the gameplay is challenging, especially as you have to collect tokens and gas along the way.

Once you get started with Horizon Chase, it will be incredibly tough to put down — we know from experience.

Finalists

Alto’s Adventure, $0.99, released Feb. 19, Universal (iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV)

altos-adventure

It’s wintertime for most parts of the world, so it’s fitting that Alto’s Adventure is the next game on our list.

Alto’s Adventure has made a big splash this year with the minimalistic yet gorgeous art style that doesn’t skimp out on the small details. It makes use of a dynamic day and night cycle as well, and the weather can change drastically so the landscape morphs as you go.

At its core, Alto’s Adventure is an endless runner that features different characters who snowboard through the slopes to rescue llamas that have escaped. Each run will be generated differently, so it won’t be the same thing twice. The controls are simple enough, as you just tap to jump or hold for a backflip. The run ends once you hit an obstacle and crash, or get caught by the Elders.

The final score is calculated by how far you’ve gone, how many llamas you rescued, trick score (backflips, grinds, etc.), coins collected, chasms jumped, and missions completed. You’ll be able to unlock new characters, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses that you must master. Coins can be spent in the shop to upgrade power-ups or you can get the Wing Suit for an completely new experience.

Alto’s Adventure came out fairly early in the year, but it’s quickly become a classic for iOS gaming. If you love beautiful games, then make sure to grab Alto’s Adventure.

CARROT Weather, $3.99, released March 19, Universal (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV), Apple Watch, optional Mac app available

carrot-weather

Does your weather app not have enough snark in it? If so, then you should give CARROT Weather a try.

CARROT Weather is the fifth installment of the CARROT app collection, and it has become a favorite around here at AppAdvice. The app itself features a simple and clean interface that is easy to use and pretty straightforward, complete with smooth animations and backgrounds to match weather conditions.

At first, CARROT Weather will ask permission for your location so you can get the current weather conditions wherever you are, but you can add an unlimited number of locations as well, switching between them manually. To add to the fun, there are secret locations that you can unlock the more you use the app, such as Tatooine from “Star Wars,” Lars Homestead, The North Pole, and more.

The data in CARROT Weather is fairly detailed and accurate, as it gives you current conditions, hourly, daily, and even short-term for rainy days. If you want even more forecast information, just swipe up from the bottom and it brings up a full, comprehensive report.

All of the CARROT apps are rather fun, but CARROT Weather is the first one that can appeal to a wide audience. It makes checking the weather fun, as you’re always greeted with a sarcastic comment on launch. We’ve been big fans of it here at AppAdvice, and it never disappoints.

You Must Build A Boat, $2.99, released June 3, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

you-must-build-a-boat

If you fancy some match-three with fast-paced RPG action, then you must check out You Must Build A Boat.

You Must Build A Boat has a rough, pixelated look that will definitely take you back to the golden days of 8-bit gaming. However, despite the rough aesthetic, the game still has some lush environments and plenty of detail for the game pieces. In the game, players travel the world by boat, but the boat will need to end up much bigger than what you start with by the time you get to the end of the game. To do this, you’ll have to find and collect resources, which include new crew members who help you on the journey.

The gameplay of You Must Build A Boat involves adding a “quest,” which is a goal for your run. They increase the danger (difficulty) and quality (loot) for each randomly generated run, and may sometimes include special properties like mist, anti-magic, and more. Your character advances through an area on the top portion of the screen, with the game board taking up the rest. It’s like an endless game, but you have to be fast — if you fall behind, it is game over.

You make matches by sliding lines (horizontally or vertically) and get at least three matching pieces to take an action. Blue swords deal physical damage, red staves do magic attacks, shields boost your defense, crates give you power-up items, and keys can open chests. The purple arm and blue brain tiles increase your power and toughness, which are used to recruit captured monsters for special boat effects.

What we love about You Must Build A Boat is the frantic pace of the game, which keeps things exciting and fresh. The matching part is challenging, as you have to think before you make your move, but you don’t need to wait before making another match, which is nice. There is a lot of upgrading involved, so the replay value is high, and since you don’t technically “lose” in the game, there is always reason to come back.

You Must Build A Boat is perfect for fans of match-three RPGs.

Domino Drop, $1.99, released July 29, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

domino-drop

When you’re in the mood to chill out with a puzzle game, Domino Drop is the perfect match.

Domino Drop has a stunning visual interface that falls back in the skeuomorphic days, as it replicates the look and feel of real domino sets. Even though it’s skeuomorphic, it’s done tastefully, so it stands out from the crowd of flat designed games. It even has quirky animations like plugging in a USB stick to the domino case to keep track of your score, and all animations are smooth and fluid. Plus, the music in the game is top notch, as it stays in the retro theme with records and scratchy jazz tunes.

There are three game modes in Domino Drop: Classic, Tails, and Pro. Classic and Pro are almost the same, with the exception of Pro not telling you what the next piece is, so it’s all a guessing game. The objective with these two is to drop the dominoes on the board and make matches of at least two colors in order to clear them out and have the other pieces fall down. White squares need to be in clusters of at least four in order to be cleared. Your score is determined by how many matches and combos you make. Tails is similar to the other two modes, but the white pieces will have a number — this means how many you have to group together to clear them. Once cleared, the number goes up by one, and you repeat the process.

While all of this sounds easy, Domino Drop’s charm is in the fact that you cannot rotate the domino pieces, so you have to plan out your moves — one mistake can cost you. The controls are intuitive, as you just drag your finger across the screen to move the domino piece horizontally, then release your finger to let it fall.

Domino Drop is a soothing puzzle game that you will end up losing many hours to, as once you get the hang of things, it’s rather hard to stop. It’s a must-have for puzzle game fans.

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, $1.99, released Aug. 5, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

spider-rite-of-the-shrouded-moon

Are you a fan of puzzles, mystery, and arachnids? If you said yes to all three, then Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon is another fine must-have game for your iPhone.

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon features a beautiful visual style that looks and feels like artwork that has come to life on your screen. There are many fine details and textures that are woven into the game, and everything, including the bugs and spiders, look realistic. The soothing music will also help you relax as you figure out the puzzles.

In Rite of the Shrouded Moon, players must go through the levels one-at-a-time, though they are all rooms and areas that are contained within an abandoned mansion. You play as a spider, covering everything in cobwebs and eating anything that falls into your silky trap. There are clues to find throughout the mansion, which you will need to solve puzzles that lead to hidden secrets. The game also changes depending on the time of day that you play, and there are different bugs that appear only in the morning or night or even when it rains.

Fans of the original Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor game will love Rite of the Shrouded Moon, and even if you’ve never played it before, this is a great time to get started.

Lara Croft GO, $1.99, released Aug. 26, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

lara-croft-go

What happens when you mix together Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame with a Monument Valley-style world? You’ll get Lara Croft GO from Square Enix Montreal.

Whether you’re a fan of Tomb Raider or just love a good puzzle, there’s a bit of everything for everyone in Lara Croft GO. The game’s visuals are top notch, as it features lush environments, crumbling ruins, dangerous enemies, and Lara Croft in an isometric style. Along with the ambient soundtrack, you will get pulled into this game from the get-go.

In Lara Croft GO, players will guide Lara Croft through a series of rooms in ancient ruins, collecting artifacts and relics and eliminating foes along the way. The puzzles can prove to be fairly challenging but everything goes in a gradual pace, so you’ll never be overwhelmed. There are also collectible outfits to unlock as you progress through the game.

Lara Croft is one of the most iconic female video game characters there is, and it’s nice to see a refreshing new game that features her. You don’t have to be a Tomb Raider fan to enjoy Lara Croft GO, but it certainly helps.

Pause – Relaxation at your fingertip, $0.99, released Oct. 8, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

pause-relaxation-at-your-fingertips

With the new year upon us, I’m sure that many of you could use a bit of help relaxing more. Fortunately, Pause is an app that will help you achieve just that.

Pause is based on the principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness, so this means a brand new interactive approach to help you unwind, especially after a long day. Not to mention that Pause looks lovely on your screen thanks to the calming mix of soft colors and fluid animations.

To use Pause, just place your finger on the dot that appears on the screen. Then you’ll move your finger around and watch the dot grow gradually and change colors as you go, with varying colors for each session that you partake in. While doing this, the background music and sounds will help put your mind at ease. This process will continue until you feel tranquil and close your eyes for complete relaxation. When the session is done, a subtle bell will ring, or you can stop moving your finger before time is up to end it early.

There are some settings that can be customized for difficulty and duration. And for those who like data, the app will store statistics for the number of pauses you’ve done, total time, and the longest session.

We all need a break every now and then, and Pause is a refreshing new way to accomplish that.

Downwell, $2.99, released Oct. 14, iPhone/iPod touch and iPad only

downwell

Remember the days of the Game Boy and 8-bit games? Many of us grew up with them, and they never lost their charm over time. If you’ve been feeling a bit of nostalgia for those days, then Downwell is the perfect medicine.

Downwell has the old-school retro look down to the last pixel. Players will have a warm and cozy feeling once their eyes are laid upon the 8-bit graphics that are complete in shades of black and white with a splash of red color. To complete the feeling, the chiptune soundtrack is an amazing treat for the ears.

While there are five different styles to play with in the game, you’ll initially only have the Standard attack style from the get-go — the rest must be unlocked by progression. There are worlds and levels in Downwell, as you start with level 1–1 each run and see how far you can make it as you fall down. However, Downwell has some roguelike elements, since each run is procedurally generated, the upgrades after each checkpoint are different, and if you die, you must start over from the beginning. Controls are simple enough but do need some time to master, due to the placement on the touch screen. You can also unlock additional color palettes once you reach certain thresholds of acquired gems.

Games like Downwell hold high replay value, making it hard to stop once you start. Pick this one up — you won’t regret it.

This concludes our top 10 paid iPhone apps of 2015. For more end of the year lists, don’t miss our Top 10 free iPhone apps of 2015, Top 10 free iPad apps of 2015, Top 10 paid iPad apps of 2015, Best Apple Watch apps of 2015, and Best Apple TV apps of 2015.

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