The best note-taking apps for the iPhone

As any efficient, organised, and focused person knows, finding the right note-taking app is crucial to getting the most out of your iPhone. But the very best note-taking apps are designed to help disorganised people keep their thoughts and memos in tip-top order, too.

iPhone note-taking apps are plentiful, but they don't all support the same features or offer equal functionality. Some let you sketch and draw directly within the app, while others only let you type. Some let you record and save voice memos. Some dazzle the eye with visual layouts. Some are so plain Jane, they are a complete bore to use. And not all of them help guide disorganised people to a more productive and systematic way of saving – and later finding – the information they need.

Connected traveller

Whether you're a dishevelled and harried type, forever looking for those specs that are invariably on top of your head, or more like a Girl or Boy Scout, prepared for any situation, you need some kind of note-taking app, and maybe even two for two different kinds of things you need to remember. Before you download the wrong apps and waste your time jotting down dates to remember or directions to your mother-in-law's house, only to never access them again, take our advice and check out these four top-notch note-taking iPhone apps to see which will suit you best.

When it comes to staying organised, keeping track of ideas, and writing things down, Evernote does the heavy lifting for you. It’s our favourite note-taking app of all time, and it comes in a free version, or a premium app with extra features (for £35 per year). Integrate this app with one or two others, and you simply can't do better. Evernote makes synchronisation effortless, and it has the best search capability of any note-taking app, hands-down. It also excels as a pared-down word processing app, so it's great for businesspeople and individuals who write frequently. Audio notes are supported and easy to record. Evernote for iPhone integrates nicely with other iPhone apps, including the list-maker Awesome Note +To-do (see the next entry below).

Awesome Note gives list makers and taskmasters a more creative way to keep track of ideas and chores, with graphical customisation on nearly every page. It's the best app for to-do lists and other checklists, but not as strong as Evernote for basic writing. Awesome Note is one of the most visual note-taking apps, with a highly customisable interface that lets you change colours, typefaces, background images, and icons. The graphical calendar also simplifies deadline management. You can also sync your Awesome Note appointments and memos to Google Drive and Evernote, making it an excellent companion app.

If you rely on Microsoft OneNote, the online or desktop application, there's no reason not to download OneNote for the iPhone. It’s a high quality note-taking app with a recently refreshed UI and the ability to automatically sync your notes to SharePoint Online. What’s more, at the moment it’s free to download “for a limited time.”

This is something a little different, and loyal fans of the Moleskine brand may enjoy the design of this pretty note-taking app, but serious list-makers and note-takers should turn to one of the alternatives above. It supports sketching and images, as well as the ability to overlay text on top, which may be useful for visual people and artists. Moleskine offers as much customisation as Awesome Note in terms of colours and backgrounds, but basic text alignment formatting, like bullets and checklists, are not included, and neither are audio files.

SwiftKey Note (free)

Yes, you heard correctly - you can now get an Android-style keyboard and note-taking app on your iPhone. SwiftKey Note is a really useful way to rapidly type up notes on iOS, and because it uses the SwiftKey keyboard rather than the standard iOS one, it fairly often guesses the right word. While for now the app lives in its own little silo, the information stored on it can be shared across the system using Evernote integration, email, or a clipboard copy (although, oddly, not directly via Twitter or Facebook). There have been some complaints of the app lagging with longer notes, but not all users seem to experience this. Definitely one to watch if it works for you.