Instapaper vs. Pocket Comparison: What to Choose in 2020

Instapaper and Pocket both are one of the most popular read-it-later apps. At a first glance, they look so similar that it’s hard to tell the difference and not clear which one to pick.

This article will help you choose the app that suits your needs well.


Choose Pocket, if you prefer listening to reading articles.

Choose Instapaper if you want to take notes along with the highlights.

If neither matters to you but you're looking for the cheapest option — Instapaper is just 3 bucks a month or 30 bucks a year once you decide to upgrade to Premium.


Both Instapaper and Pocket offer a wide selection of saving options. Their extensions cover the most popular desktop browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.

On iOS and Android, Instapaper and Pocket offer an extension that can be used from the share sheet menu.

Instapaper on desktop


Both Instapaper and Pocket offer web versions that work well on desktop and mobile. Both have apps for iOS and Android that work on iPads/tablets too.

Pocket on desktop

Instapaper and Pocket are well designed, both featuring the list of your saved articles on the home screen. Instapaper follows a more newspaper-like approach while Pocket looks more modern.


Both apps use similar hamburger menu navigation consisting of:

• Archive;
• Favorite/Liked articles;
• Videos
— I wouldn't recommend saving videos specifically to Pocket or Instapaper and would focus on just saving and reading articles. Nevertheless, it might be useful to have it anyway if a link you've saved contains a video;

• Browse/Discover — a curated selection of articles from the editorial team and your friends that you might like.

Reading appearance

In Instapaper and Pocket, you can adjust the text appearance to your preference. However, in Pocket it's a premium feature, so you have to upgrade in order to tweak fonts, colors, line height, and margins.


Both apps allow highlighting but with a caveat: in the free version of Instapaper, you can make up to five highlights per month. In Pocket it’s limited by three highlights per article.

Once you upgrade to Premium, there’s no limit to the number of highlights.

One of the big differences though is that Instapaper has notes, additionally to highlights. It lets you write down your thoughts that are tied to the highlights you make. Pocket doesn’t have this feature at least yet. For a lot of people, it's the main turning point when deciding whether to go with Pocket or Instapaper.

Also, Instapaper allows you to share highlights as images (handy for Twitter and other social media to appear smart), while Pocket doesn't offer that.


Tagging when saving in Instapaper

Tagging is one of the few features where you can spot the difference between the apps: when saving an article to Pocket, you can add multiple tags, while Instapaper allows saving only to a single folder.

Tagging when saving in Pocket

For example, you want to save an article about early work from Paul Graham. When saving to Pocket, you could add tags “startup”, “ycombinator”. While with Instapaper you can add it to one folder: either “startup” or “ycombinator”.

Text to Audio

Both apps offer text-to-speech features but Pocket is a more robust option than Instapaper.

In one tap, Pocket creates a podcast-like experience using articles from your list. For example, you can rewind or fast forward audio and choose the narrator's voice. It doesn't sound like much but it's a definite improvement over the default robot-voice that Instapaper provides.

Worth saying, that the Text to Audio feature is only available for Premium users in Instapaper, while it's free for Pocket users.

This feature is another turning point for a lot of people as well. While almost everything else in both apps is very similar, Pocket is clearly winning at converting text into audio.


Instapaper and Pocket offer free versions of their apps and you can do just fine using them. However, if you'd like to be able to make an unlimited amount of highlights while reading switching to Premium is necessary.

With Pocket, you'll also get a backup of everything you've saved even if links aren't accessible anymore, full-text search, suggested tags, and other features.

Instapaper also allows full-text search, speed reading, "Send to Kindle" bookmarklet, once you upgrade to Premium.

Screenshots of Pocket and Instapaper pricing tables are attached.

Pocket's pricing
Instapaper's pricing

As of October 31, 2020, Pocket Premium costs:
• $4.99/month;
• $44.99/year.

Instapaper is cheaper, it's just:
• $2.99/month;
• $29.99/year.

Pocket or Instapaper: which one should you get?

No matter how similar Pocket and Instapaper are, you have to pick something to use.

It depends on your needs and preferred workflow for reading.

So, if you are used to taking notes while reading, pick Instapaper.

Are you more of a podcast person, usually listening more than reading? Then, go with Pocket.

If price matters for you, Instapaper is a good option for that if you decide to go premium one day.


I'm not associated with Instapaper or Pocket, neither companies paid for this comparison. However, if you're looking for a different solution, I'm working on Alfread.

It's a read-it-later app that helps triage everything you save and helps retain the reading habit. After all, reading what you've saved shouldn't be a chore but an enjoyable process.

More on that here.