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Flashlight... There's an app for that!
Actually, there isn't just one app for folks who are in need of a good light source, there are about two dozen. That's a lot of apps that essentially do the same thing, but still it's nice to have options. The first question you might ask yourself is why hasn't Apple just included an iPhone app with the device itself? The iPhone has a calculator, voice recorder, and even a compass, but no flashlight? It seems like a rather silly omission, especially when you consider how easy it really is to make a flashlight app.
Apple's oversight has left plenty of room for aspiring developers to try their skills on making the best light source app out there, and because of the straightforward nature of such an app it is one of the first things that new developers attempt.
The number one piece of advice for those looking for such an app is that you should never pay for a flashlight for your phone. There are simply too many free options out there that offer all the functionality (and then some!) of the paid flashlight apps to ever warrant paying anything, even 99 cents, for what is essentially a fake phone flashlight.
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Best iPhone, 3G, 3GS Flashlight App
By far the best flashlight app available for the iPhone, 3G, and 3GS is the myLite flashlight. It offers a near-instant bright white screen at start-up, which is exactly what most people are looking for when they think of using their phone as a light source. The app allows you to change brightness, color and even some pretty crazy effects. You can create a strobe light, an emergency flare, or even a red/blue flashing police light. These, of course, aren't needed when you are just looking for a quick flashlight, but the added value and novelty of the crazy things you can do with the myLite flashlight certainly push it over the edge to a must-have app.
The myLite app is completely free and is completely no-nonsense. You won't see any ridiculous ads or anything else that might obscure the light source, which we can't say about some of the other free flashlight apps out there.
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Best iPhone 4 Flashlight App
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the best iPhone flashlight app is different if you happen to own an iPhone 4. There is one big reason for this: the included LED flash on the iPhone 4. As you can imagine, using a bright LED light that is designed to light things up works wonders when compared to a bright, back-lit LCD screen. The LED on the iPhone 4 is a godsend to people who frequently use their phone as a makeshift light.
Because of this, there are apps designed specifically to take advantage of the iPhone 4's added functionality. Namely, Flashlight. which is available for free on the App Store. Now, just to make sure we're clear, the name of the app is Flashlight., including the period. We're guessing they had to go with the added punctuation because there are roughly 20 other apps already out there with the word flashlight in the name. Regardless, once you have Flashlight. installed you'll be able to do many of the same color changing effects of the myLite flashlight app, but you'll also have access to a constant LED light source. The iPhone 4's LED flash is mega bright and when turned on in a constant stream, it is unrivaled in terms of lighting power.
Now, we're not suggesting getting the new iPhone just for the flashlight capabilities, but if you already have one and need a light, there's really no reason to use anything other than the Flashlight. app.
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Runners-Up For All Devices
While we've already made it abundantly clear what app you should go with when looking for a flashlight for your iPhone, there is the possibility that these apps may be removed for whatever reason, leaving you high and dry. Fear not, we have put together a list of some good alternatives for your device, if the our top picks simply aren't available.
*Flashlight - With another rather generic name, *Flashlight is a good alternative for those with the iPhone 3G or 3GS. It offers similar functionality to the myLite flashlight, but isn't quite as fleshed-out in terms of added value features. You'll still get a bright white background and a color swatch chooser, but beyond that there isn't much else to do. Still, for pure flashlight functionality, this one stands up nicely.
iHandy Flashlight Free - The free version of the iHandy Flashlight offers enough solid functionality for 3G and 3GS users to warrant a recommendation. This no-cost edition features bright lighting and some pretty cool alternate effects such as neon glow sticks and flashing strobe modes. It's cool, but it's also ad-supported, which really holds it back from reaching its full potential. The full version features over 50 additional effects and no ads, but it comes with a dollar price tag.
*Flashlight* - We know, it's hard to keep all these generic app names straight, but *Flashlight* (the *s appear as small sun shapes in the app store) is a solid option for iPhone 4 users who can't find Flashlight. for whatever reason. *Flashlight* also features the LED light feature, but not much else beyond that. As the app description states, if you're just looking for a no-cost, no-ad, no-frills flashlight for your iPhone 4, *Flashlight* is a good bet.