Windows Phone 8 lags behind the competition in terms of app selection, which means that getting an brilliant setup may not be possible if the apps or features you want aren't available. On the other hand with fewer apps to sift through doing so should be a lot quicker.
While YouTube was an easy recommendation for iOS and Android, the YouTube apps for Windows Phone aren't generally so impressive. Even Microsoft's own attempt at one is distinctly lacking.
But there is one YouTube app that does the service justice: YouTube HD. It's slick, easy to navigate and even includes advanced features like uploading and downloading videos.
Shazam is as useful here as on other platforms. It's the sort of app that anyone could find handy as we've all had times when we've wondered what a song is.
Finally for media, Nokia MixRadio really should come pre-installed on all Windows Phone 8 handsets. It already comes on Nokia ones and it's understandable that it doesn't come with competitors ones, but with the ability to listen to a personalised radio station for free with no adverts it's pretty essential.
Facebook and Twitter once again come out on top as essential apps. Whether you're using iOS, Android or Windows Phone every handset should have these two pre-installed. However, Rowi is also a decent option if you're not into the official Twitter app.
Skype is just as essential here as on iOS or Android. Free messaging, video calls and voice calls make it hard to say no to.
If you plan to view or annotate any PDF's on your phone then Adobe Reader is probably the best option out there. Even if you don't think you want it now, one day it will be a life saver.
Entertainment / news
Sadly Windows Phone doesn't have Flipboard, but it does have Nextgen Reader. It's more an RSS reader than a customisable magazine, but it's got a similarly attractive design and lets you read full stories without leaving the app.
If you have a Windows Phone handset and use RSS feeds, this should be your reader.
That said they're not quite so essential here as they don't feel as well designed as their iOS and Android counterparts, but they're still generally preferable to using the websites. That's a good enough nod for us.
Night time power cuts used to mean rifling through drawers for a torch, if you could even find the drawers, but if you have a smartphone with an LED flash then you've already got a torch in your pocket, you just need an app to activate it. Flashlight-X is one such app for Windows Phone.
With the touch of a button it will light up the LED flash and leave you wondering why you even own a torch any more.
HERE Drive+ does for sat-navs what Flashlight-X does for torches. It's a full featured sat-nav with voice guided turn-by-turn navigation. And it's free.
Being a Nokia app it comes with Nokia phones anyway, but it really would be great if it came with every Windows Phone handset. Admittedly only five worldwide aren't made by the Finns.
- You've read about the essential apps, now read about the oddest apps.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.