There are hundreds of fantastic games available for Android, and a lot of them are available for absolutely nothing.
Whether ad-supported or based on a (boo and indeed hiss) “freemium” model, these titles are free – and guaranteed to make your morning commute a little less painful.
To help you find just the sort of thing you're after, we've grouped the games into sections. First up is racing games, then sports, followed by platformers and endless runners, then shooters and strategy and word games, next up is puzzle and match games, and finally arcade games. Phew!
If you can't find something you like in all that lot you must already be dead.
Best free racing game for Android: Ridge Racer Slipstream
Namco’s racer sits at the midpoint between Asphalt 8’s demented arcade larks and Real Racing’s overly earnest simulation leanings. Like its coin-op ancestors, though, Ridge Racer is still all about barreling along at insane speeds, and having fun — you just have to work at success a bit more than in Asphalt.
Here, driving like a total idiot will likely mean you’ll lose a race. Instead, you should only drive like a part-time maniac, slipstreaming the opposition, drifting through bends, and boosting past rivals. It looks great, sounds suitably meaty, controls really well, and even the IAP’s subdued enough that the game won’t constantly be doing wheelspins on your bank account.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Given that this is the eighth title in the Asphalt series, it probably comes as no surprise Gameloft's got a bit bored having sports cars merely zoom along at breakneck speeds and drift for ludicrous distances.
As this game's name suggests, Asphalt 8 now also regularly finds your vehicle catapulted into the air, whereupon it can perform crazy aerial stunts that are entirely not covered by your insurance plan. As ever, the hyper-real tracks are faintly barmy too.
Big Bang Racing
All those sci-fi thrillers about aliens invading on receiving our telly broadcasts, and it turns out they were thirsting for danger of the trials kind all along.
And so it goes in Big Bang Racing, your little green man tackling hazard-laden courses, trying very hard not to get electrocuted or crushed. It’s all rather jolly, with colourful visuals and smart controls.
Once you tire of solo play, you can pit your skills against other racers, battling their ghosts to the finish line. And once you tire of that, you can make your own courses and share them online.
Final Freeway 2R
In the 1980s, cars gleamed red, and everyone belted along multi-lane sunlit highways — oddly always in the same direction, while listening to cheesy rock music. At least if you were playing OutRun.
Final Freeway 2R is a modern take on Sega’s classic arcade racer. You get all the good bits — insane speeds, road forks, car flips on crashing — but also modern tilt controls and a pause button for when some idiot calls when you’re about to zoom away from a rival.
This is breezy no-nonsense fun of the kind that’ll smear a grin across your face (unless you’re dead inside); and if you can’t stand being a cheapskate, there’s a paid ad-free version for 79p.
Real Racing 3
Real Racing 3’s console-level visuals look so good that we’re still amazed we can play it on our smartphones. Throw in the easy-to-use motion-controlled steering (which actually works and doesn’t make us want to throw our phones at the wall in frustration) and you’ve got yourself one of the most polished racers in the Google Play Store.
Its freemium model, which involves having to take large breaks between races unless you pay to speed things up, got plenty of criticism on its release, but once you've got a few cars in your garage it's not a big problem. Besides, it's well deserving of a little of your cash.
Best free sports game for Android: Super Stickman Golf 3
Super Stickman Golf 3’s ancestor is the same Apple II Artillery game Angry Birds has at its core, but Noodlecake’s title is a lot more fun than catapulting birds around.
It’s a larger-than-life side-on mini-golf extravaganza, with you thwacking balls about giant forests, moon bases, and metal-clad courses with a suspiciously high deadly saw-blade and laser count. The single-player game’s fun, but SSMG 3 really comes into its own in multiplayer, whether you’re taking the more sedate turn-by-turn route or ball-smacking at speed in the frenetic race mode.
Flappy Golf 2
Given that it was conceived as a joke, riffing off Flappy Bird, Flappy Golf was a surprise hit. Despite being utterly stupid, it proved a compelling experience as you tapped to flap a winged ball around courses from Super Stickman Golf 2.
Flappy Bird 2 is a moderately more serious affair, in the sense it has a bit more polish. This time, you’re flitting about courses from Super Stickman Golf 3. As ever, sinking the ball in relatively few shots nets you stars, used to unlock more courses. The best bit, though: the absurd, fast and furious multiplayer race mode.
Dunkers - Basketball Madness
The clue’s in the title with Dunkers, in that it’s unhinged – although it does at least bear some resemblance to basketball. Cartoon characters face off, and you must score as many points as possible before your opponent dunks for glory.
The nuttiness mostly comes by way of weirdly floaty physics and oddball controls – you get a button for moving backwards and another for leaping forwards. Also, the players never stop maniacally spinning their arms, and there’s – for some reason – occasionally a trampoline on court. It’s a far cry from the likes of NBK, but a lot more silly, and loads of fun – especially in same-device two-player mode.
Score! World Goals
At the dawn of smartphone gaming, path-drawing titles became hugely popular, the most famous having you land planes. Score! World Goals is more grounded, and also immerses you in a little history. You attempt to reproduce the path of balls during some of the greatest goals of all time.
It sounds like a mundane task, but it's compelling to work your way through so many dazzling moments, and the game's smart enough to realistically scupper any attempt to go off-plan and do your own thing.
New Star Soccer
New Star Soccer reimagines the beautiful game in an abstract and not entirely realistic fashion that owes a lot to ancient management games for the C64 and ZX Spectrum.
There's no FIFA-style TV-like action here; instead, you get a selection of mini-games, giving you chances to score and pass during matches and increase your skills during training. The remainder of the game is about balancing life, keeping your boss, team and partner happy, while occasionally sneaking out to the casino and buying the odd fighter jet. Hey, we said 'not entirely realistic'.