Pocket or Instapaper: Compare & Choose the Best

Product Comparisons Aug 13, 2020

Pocket and Instapaper are two of the most popular read-it-later apps out there today. Although similar in many ways, they cater to very different readers.

If you are not sure which app is best suited for your needs, read on as we dive in and compare some of the features they offer.

Reading experience

Both Instapaper and Pocket are designed to enhance your reading experience. Yet, they take different approaches to help you achieve this goal.

Look & feel

Pocket vs Instapaper - reading
A Wikipedia page opened in Pocket & Instapaper.

Even though interfaces are focused on minimal reading obstruction, both apps can mess up if the web page has tables, images, GIFs, and other multimedia.

Pocket, for the most part, loads all images, tables and preserves the article structure. And while Instapaper also has this capability, it can occasionally miss out on some of the multimedia.

Both apps give color options for Dark Mode, Black/White, and Sepia background. You can also adjust brightness from the mobile apps.

They also have a list of fonts you can choose. However, while Instapaper offers many fonts for free, Pocket offers only two fonts in its free version.

Instapaper also has a feature to adjust text width. This is great if you have a curved screen and want to avoid text bending over the edges. Pocket misses out on this.

Images

With Pocket, you can open an image inside the app and zoom in or slide to view in a gallery. We think this feature is quite useful since many articles have images.

On Instapaper, you can open images only in the device browser. But at times, it opens the webpage containing the image instead.

Scrolling & flipping

You can enable Pagination to flip pages on both apps. Or use the device volume buttons to scroll up or down.

Tilt scrolling is exclusive to Instapaper. It gives you the option to change your device orientation to scroll the page in that direction. We think this feature is a bit awkward to use while reading.

Speed reading

Speed reading on Instapaper
Speed reading on Instapaper.

Instapaper is the only one that offers speed reading. When using this feature, the screen displays a single word at a time, instead of showing the entire article.

According to the company, this feature is “meant to help you eliminate sub-vocalization, that voice in the back of your mind repeating words as you read them, and reduce time lost scanning between words. The result is a more focused, faster reading experience.”

Highlighting and taking notes

Pocket vs Instapaper - highlight & note taking
Pocket has highlighting option while Instapaper has highlighting and note-taking options.

Pocket and Instapaper allow you to make highlights or notes. However, the number of highlights you can make is limited on both. You need to upgrade to a paid account for unlimited highlighting and note-taking.

Pocket allows 3 highlights per article and Instapaper allows 5 per month in their free versions.

Instapaper notes
Highlight with notes on Instapaper

Both Pocket and Instapaper allow you to cross-post to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, Linkedin, etc. You can also share your highlights with apps like Evernote and Google Keep.

However, unlike Instapaper, Pocket allows you to view your highlights on an article while reading it, so you don’t have to jump back and forth between the main app and the content.

Pocket - web highlighting feature
Pocket displays the highlighted text right next to the article.

Listening

Listening to an article on Pocket is better because it is more consistent and natural sounding. It also lets you adjust your playback speed, so the article is read to you at a speed you are comfortable with.

The text-to-speech experience on Instapaper is quite robotic and inconsistent. This is because it doesn’t have its own text-to-speech engine and depends on the device’s default text-to-speech service. For example, on Apple devices, Siri will read your articles.

Pocket article playlist - read-it-loud
Article playlist on Pocket.

Lastly, Pocket lets you play your articles in a playlist, like a music app,. This feature is available for free in Pocket but is paid on Instapaper.

Organizing

Both Pocket and Instapaper follow different approaches to organizing content. So, if you are still confused about which app to get, this category can help split the tie.

Pocket vs Instapaper - tags & folders
Pocket has tags while Instapaper has folders.

Instapaper allows you to organize content in folders. Pocket, on the other hand, doesn’t have any folder system, it uses a tagging system. It allows you to add as many tags to an article as you want, while also giving you the option to browse each tag individually.

Bottomline

Use Pocket if you like:

  • Better text-to-speech
  • Ability to handle multimedia
  • Convenient highlights viewing

Use Instapaper if you like:

  • Speed reading
  • Clean and minimalist interface
  • Folder system

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Adityee Jain

Adityee is a marketing strategist with expertise in social media marketing. She's a regular contributor to Savay Blog.

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