Is Amazon Underground App Store Worth It?

Mobile gamers are about to get a huge bonus. Amazon's new store Underground is like a black market for Android apps, giving you dozens of paid apps for free. Even in-app purchases in some free apps on Underground are available at no cost.

The online retail giant is paying developers so it can offer shoppers the freebies, calling these apps "Actually Free." Amazon Underground is here to stay, too, as the company said this isn't a one-off limited-time promotion. So just how good a deal is it? I went Underground with Amazon to see how it stacks up.

Surprisingly, lots of popular paid apps are available in Amazon Underground's "Actually Free" section, from games such as Goat Simulator (originally $4.99), Fruit Ninja (originally $0.99) and DuckTales: Remastered (originally $9.99), to tools such as Flashcard Machine (originally $2.99) and Learn Spanish Pro - Phrasebook (originally $4.99).

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The real magic comes in the form of free in-app purchases. The bonus is available in a wide selection of games, such as Jetpack Joyride, Cut the Rope HD, Inside Out Thought Bubbles and Sonic Dash, and can seriously improve your gameplay. I got a set of 1 million coins in Jetpack Joyride for free via Underground, which I can use to buy upgrades, clothing and utilities in the game. That would normally have cost $29.99 in the regular app.

The coin purchase page in regular Jetpack Joyride

The coin purchase page in regular Jetpack Joyride

To get the free in-app bonuses, all I had to do was go through the regular motions of buying the upgrades. In place of the prices that usually appear in the regular app, I saw three ellipses in the Amazon Underground version. Select whichever extra you want to get, then tap Buy.

The coin purchase page in Underground Jetpack Joyride

The coin purchase page in Underground Jetpack Joyride

A notice pops up, saying that Amazon Underground is getting the item for you; shortly after, you get the freebie. There is no limit on the number of in-app purchases you can make, and you can buy items repeatedly, depending on whether the app allows it.

Bottom line

That's a huge perk, and not just for mobile gamers. There are plenty of productivity, language and other useful apps that come at a price which might have put off budget-conscious users. Those like me who are tired of having to wait 24 hours to gain more free points to get an upgrade in a game will also love the free in-app purchases. It's great that Amazon Underground is here to stay, but its appeal will depend on the apps that are available for free. Google Play might not offer such freebies, but it does have a wider selection of apps. For now, though, I'll be happily turning myself into a multi-millionaire in Jetpack Joyride.

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.