My short answer:
Almost all meditation apps have valuable, free portions (usually ‘introductory’ 7 or 10 days series for beginners). You should download and test all of the free meditations offered by: Calm, Headspace, Waking Up, Brightmind, & 10% Happier before choosing to pay for one. If you like the approach of learning multiple styles, and want to explore even more free resources after that, check out Tara Brach, Unified Mindfulness.
My long answer:
There’s no one perfect style of meditation for everyone. In fact, the resources above don’t cover all of the options. However, that’s more than enough to get you started.
I’ve been meditating daily for close to 10 years now. I have a subscription to Calm, but I have tried all of those, and more.
At this point in my meditation journey, I often don’t use my app at all. In the beginning I used it daily. Now, I choose the style or teacher (which is often no teacher) that I feel I need in the moment.
Why did I choose Calm? Largely for the value. It’s $69.99 per year and they pack a lot of value in there, including meditation music that I use often while working. Also, I remember way back when I was debating between Calm & Headspace – they’re kind of like the Coke & Pepsi of meditation apps – that I preferred Tamara Levitt’s voice to Andy’s.
But there really is no right or wrong choice, except perhaps not to try any at all.
Sam Harris at Waking Up is more expensive but worth every penny.
You can get along just fine for free for a long time. You’ll also find that many of the teachers mentioned above and others all have guest content inside their colleague’s platforms.
That’s how I learned about Shinzen Young at first – inside of Calm. I knew right away after hearing his style of guidance that I had to check his work out externally.
At the end of the day, you’ll find the right app for you without regret after testing at least 2 or 3.
It takes practically zero effort to download, and later uninstall if needed, an app.
Finally: you don’t have to uninstall. Sometimes I go back and do the free beginner courses over & over again, periodically, because no one, no matter how long they’ve been meditating, ever escapes the need for good fundamentals.