This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) apps allow businesses to take payments and complete sales on the floor, tableside, curbside, and on the go. The best mobile POS apps include card-present and keyed-in payment processing and offline functionality and operate as part of a complete POS system with tools like inventory tracking, CRM, loyalty, and ecommerce integrations—all at an affordable price.
We looked at over 15 of the top mobile POS systems on the market and selected our top seven based on pricing, POS features, mobile tools, ease of use, and our expert evaluation.
Based on these criteria, the best mobile POS are:
- Square: Best overall and best free mobile POS system
- Loyverse: Best for free customer loyalty program
- PayPal Zettle: Best for international sales
- Lightspeed Retail: Best for managing complex inventories
- Clover POS: Best for choosing your own merchant account
- Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for full-service restaurants
- Shopify POS: Best for omnichannel sellers
Best Mobile POS Apps Compared
Square: Best Overall Mobile POS App
Square POS is not only our top choice for mobile POS apps, it is also the best overall POS software and the top-recommended free POS solution because it’s compatible with many business types and offers high-quality features at a low price. It offers free POS accounts for retailers, restaurants, and service businesses, all including corresponding apps you can download for free and take your business on the go.
Every Square plan comes fully kitted with all the basic tools, including an in-house ecommerce site and flat-rate payment processing. Square also has advanced POS plans and add-on tools to support your growth, plus affordable hardware options for both mobile operations and your cash wrap.
In our evaluation, Square earned a 4.51 out of 5. It aced the ratings for price and expert evaluation but took hits for its limited customer service hours and lack of a free loyalty program (which is an add-on, unlike with Loyverse). Additionally, its inventory management tools do not have the in-depth reporting or product details you find with Lightspeed or Shopify.
- Scalability: Square works for the solopreneur who occasionally sells a few items as well as the busy store owner with in-person and online sales. While the competitive payment processing rates are the second-highest on our list after Shopify, Square does offer reduced rates for high-volume sellers.
- Versatility: Run a restaurant? Square has a specialty POS for that. Need something for your beauty salon? Try Square Appointments, which is also free. Square also has a free online store. It has add-ons for loyalty, employee scheduling, and even payroll—all of which integrate natively into Square POS. Further, Square has branched into banking with checking and savings accounts and loans.
- Integrations: Square integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks, scheduling software like Intake, or time trackers like Homebase. You can choose among ecommerce, delivery services, invoicing, analytics, events, and loyalty apps that integrate seamlessly.
- Offline mode: Like most systems on our list, Square works offline. It can record and store transactions to sync with the cloud later.
- Social selling: In addition to a free online store, Square can also integrate with your storefronts on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, so you can manage those channels straight from your mobile POS system, including omnichannel sales and inventory tracking. Only Shopify and Clover rival Square for social selling features.
- Payment processing: Every Square account comes ready to process payments via Square Payments. Unlike Clover or Loyverse, you have to use Square Payments and cannot opt for a different processor.
- Age verification: Square does not have age-verification tools, and you can’t integrate the system with a high-risk payment processor—you are locked into using Square Payments. Consider Clover if you process high-risk sales or want to use a third-party merchant account.
- Loyalty program: Square charges extra for this program. Zettle and Clover have at least some tools, like loyalty points, included in the base tier, and Loyverse has a complete loyalty program for free.
- Scheduling: To create employee schedules or have advanced clock-in/out or time-tracking capability, you need Square Teams, which costs extra. If time tracking is important to you, consider Loyverse, Clover, and Lightspeed.
Loyverse: Best for a Free Loyalty Program
Loyverse is an extremely popular free POS software and mobile app and works with a variety of payment processors worldwide. The app includes loyalty, inventory, and even employee management features. Notably, Loyverse can also work offline for both transactions and sales/inventory syncing—not even Square can do that.
It came a close second to Square, with 4.38 out of 5 on our evaluation. In fact, Loyverse was the only provider that scored 5 out of 5 on mobile-specific features. It also scored well for its 24/7 customer service and ease of use.
Its range of features rivals Square, and with a choice of payment processors, you can find rates that suit you. However, unlike Square, Loyverse charges extra for integrations and does not include an ecommerce platform.
Loyverse also lost points for its limited payment integration options, lack of custom reports, and lower-than-average user ratings for its app on third-party software review sites.
- Loyalty: This is where Loyverse gets its name (an abbreviation of Loyalty Universe) and where it stands out. Its customer relationship and loyalty program has a database for keeping information like contact information, purchase history, customer notes, and points tracking. The built-in program also offers scannable loyalty cards where customers can keep their rewards. Square charges extra for its loyalty program.
- POS: Like most of the software on our list, you can ring up items, include discounts, send receipts, and offer refunds. Loyverse lets you use your phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. (Shopify and Zettle also do this.) Plus, it has extra features like open tickets and weight barcodes. You can also set up options for takeout or delivery. Finally, it works offline, something Shopify and Zettle can’t do.
- Inventory management: Loyverse boasts a strong inventory management system with item variants and modifiers, bulk upload, low-stock alerts, and inventory tracking. However, if you want purchase orders, the ability to transfer items between stores, inventory counting, and ingredient tracking, you need the advanced inventory program. For the best inventory system, look at Lightspeed or Shopify.
- Employee features: Loyverse has a free time clock for employees to clock in and out. If you purchase the employee management system, you also get time cards, access restriction capabilities, and employee analytics. Compare this to Square’s free plan, which lets you create schedules, clock employees in and out, and track breaks; its paid plan has analytics and advanced time clock functions.
- Payment processing: Like with Clover, you can choose your payment provider, although its choices are more limited. It works with SumUp, Zettle, Worldpay, CardConnect, Tyro, Smartpay, Yoco, STORES Payment, PAYGATE, SB payments, KICC, and NICE. Many of these are only available for iOS, and some are limited to specific countries. However, note that if you integrate a third-party service, you will have to pay a $9 monthly integration fee.
- Hardware options: Unlike the other software on our list, Loyverse does not offer any in-house hardware. Additionally, its compatible products have a higher price point, ranging from $100 to $600, which is high compared to other providers on this list.
- Integrations: While Loyverse can integrate with ecommerce and accounting software, you need to pay an additional $9 per store per month for this. The other mobile POS solutions on our list offer integrations for free. Additionally, there are limited payment processing integrations, with only PayPal and Worldpay as the only options in North America.
- Growth: While Loyverse does have add-ons, there are not many, and there are no advanced POS plans. As your business grows, Loyverse might not be able to support it, and you will need to switch providers rather than upgrade your plan. We recommend Square, Lightspeed, or Shopify for POS options with many plans to support your needs now and in the future.
PayPal Zettle: Best for Selling Internationally
Zettle is a free mobile POS system brought to you by PayPal. With tools like inventory controls, staff management, and reporting, Zettle has similar tools in its free plan as Square or Loyverse.
With Zettle, you will also be locked into PayPal payment processing. PayPal not only offers competitive rates but it can also process payments worldwide—perfect for international sellers. The Zettle by PayPal mobile app is also highly rated and user-friendly.
In the news:
Last year, PayPal announced the rollout of the PayPal Zettle Terminal to US small businesses. The device is an all-in-one POS solution offering increased mobility in-store. It features a touch screen and sleek design. It is easy to set up and use—ready right out of the box—and doesn’t need to pair with any additional devices.
With 3.99 out of 5, PayPal Zettle earned a perfect score for pricing and high scores in the general features and expert score categories. Where Zettle lost points was for lacking offline mode, a time clock feature, and tools for specific industries like restaurants or appointments.
- International payment processing: Zettle originally served the European market; plus, PayPal works in over 200 markets and 100 currencies. The POS software can handle sales in-store, across borders, and in different currencies. Clover also has international processing, and many Pacific nations, like Japan and Korea, use Loyverse.
- Online sales: Zettle integrates with Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce for online sales. However, PayPal integrates just about anywhere, from social media to eBay. Square and Shopify, of course, have their own online stores included in your POS account.
- Basic, free POS: Like Square, PayPal Zettle offers a free, fully functional mobile POS system with in-house payment processing. It includes a user-friendly checkout, inventory tracking, and reporting tools, and can manage multiple sales channels. Unlike Square, however, PayPal does not offer advanced POS plans or industry-specific options for restaurants and service businesses.
- Offline processing: If you need this feature and still want a free POS, consider Square or Loyverse. If you need an international payment processor that also has an offline mode, look at Clover.
- Age verification: Like Square, Zettle does not include age verification, and we did not find an established third-party integration for this. Consider Clover or Shopify with Age Checker if you sell age-restricted items.
- Online ordering or takeout: While you can integrate PayPal into online ordering sites, Zettle itself does not have these options. Consider Square instead.
Lightspeed Retail: Best for Managing Complex Inventories
Lightspeed Retail’s POS system topped our ranking of POS inventory management systems because of its extensive toolset, including granular and customer reports, inventory matrixes, and vendor management. Not only that, but Lightspeed Retail has a preloaded catalog of vendors where you can shop and place orders right from its POS dashboard. It also features integrated purchase ordering, the ability to place special orders, low-stock alerts, inventory counting tools, and more.
While Lightspeed Retail has a lot to offer when it comes to inventory management, it does have some drawbacks. To start, Lightspeed Retail’s mobile app and POS dashboard are not the easiest to learn (especially when compared to Square or Shopify). This yields lower user reviews. A more complex interface, limited mobile app functionality, and paywalls blocking many advanced tools earned Lightspeed a 3.96 out of 5 in our evaluation.
- Inventory: Lightspeed is No. 1 on our list of best inventory POS (you’ll find Square and Shopify on this list, too). It offers multiple variants, sophisticated analytics, a supplier network, and smart pricing. It also syncs with its online store, Lightspeed eCom. Shopify comes close to Lightspeed for inventory features, but Lightspeed has more granular details and customization options.
- Age verification: Lightspeed has age verification features in the register app. This makes it a great choice for stores that sell age-restricted items.
- Customer support: It offers 24/7 live phone support and chat support during extended hours.
- Payment processing: Every Lightspeed account holder is automatically enrolled in Lightspeed Payments for processing transactions through your POS. Lightspeed Payments offers competitive processing rates and is conveniently pre-integrated into your account. The biggest drawback here is that if you do want to use a third-party processor, your monthly POS fees will increase—unlike with Clover, which lets you choose your own processor for free.
- Free plan: Lightspeed has a 14-day free trial but no free version and relatively high monthly fees. Look to Square, Loyverse, or Zettle if you want a free POS.
- Loyalty program: Unless you get the Enterprise plan, you need to pay extra for the omnichannel loyalty program; call sales for pricing. (Square is similar, but posts its price at $45 per month.)
- Affordability: While Lightspeed does have some of the most advanced tools of the POS systems on this list, it is also an expensive option and many of those tools are only available in Lightspeed’s higher-tier plans. Look to Square for a free mobile POS system with affordable upgrades and add-ons.
Clover POS: Best for Choosing Your Own Merchant Account
Clover’s POS system is a combination of software and hardware popular with larger businesses because it lets them purchase Clover systems through authorized payment processors or banks. This means that Clover is good for people that already have a merchant account and want the ability to use that account to process transactions through their POS. This is true for high-volume and high-risk businesses especially, as you can get volume discounts from certain merchants or use high-risk processors if needed.
While you can use nearly any merchant account, unless otherwise specified, Clover will default and automatically enroll its new members into Fiserv upon sign-up if you purchase directly through the Clover website. This means you can start accepting payments as soon as you have a Clover account with Fiserv.
Clover terminals can’t be reprogrammed for different payment processors once you have opted in, so businesses are stuck with the processor they purchased it from.
Clover earns 3.84 out of 5 in our evaluation. It has high marks for mobile, but its general user ratings are not as good. There are a lot of complaints about third-party resellers trapping retailers with hidden fees. Clover also does not let you use your phone as a barcode scanner like you find with Lightspeed, Square, and Shopify. However, it does have strong customer and loyalty tools and integrations.
- POS: Clover has a hearty POS system that accepts all types of payments, lets you set up discounts, and processes refunds. You can set up a virtual terminal and take online orders from your website or delivery services. It also has an offline mode.
- Customizable receipts: Several of the systems on our list let you customize receipts with general store information, but Clover also lets you create coupons for feedback. Square can also create coupons, but only if you purchase Square Marketing.
- Customer engagement: Clover includes both loyalty programs and customer engagement features. You can create real-time promotions via email, text, or social media; start a rewards program; and create profiles that automatically update credit card sales and contact info.
- Clock in/out: With Clover, you have the ability to clock employees in and out of shifts and track their time worked and how much they earned in tips. This is a big help for establishing payroll. Loyverse and Lightspeed also have this capability.
- Hardware: Clover has proprietary hardware that you can purchase from Clover directly or from authorized resellers. The Clover Mini and tablet devices are paid via monthly financing, billed with your software subscription. Or, you can get a CloverGo card reader for only $49, which you can pair with your smartphone. Note that you cannot use your smartphone as a barcode scanner on the app, you must use proprietary hardware for a mobile scanner function.
- Customization options: Clover prides itself on being a highly customizable POS option. Not only can you use the merchant account of your choosing to process transactions, but Clover also has a massive suite of app integrations for any tools or features you need to run your business at no cost.
- Microbusiness capability: The monthly price and hardware make Clover a poor choice for hobbyists or solopreneurs with limited sales. Consider Square or Zettle instead.
- Flexibility: Once you have your merchant provider, your hardware is locked to them. Be completely sure of your contracts before purchasing Clover.
Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for Full-service Restaurants
Lightspeed Restaurant’s POS is a great choice for full-service restaurants that want to run operations via iPads or cellular devices. The POS system comes equipped with user-friendly order management, robust and dynamic KDS, table mapping and adjustments, integrated delivery management, tableside payment processing, tons of payment options, ingredient-level inventory management, and much more.
While it has a lot to offer, Lightspeed Restaurant does have some drawbacks that kept it at 3.62 out of 5 in our overall scoring. First, while it has delivery tools, there are no driver management or tracking tools. Additionally, compared to the other options on our list, especially Square and Loyverse, Lightspeed Restaurant’s POS is quite expensive and locks many features—like advanced reporting, floor controls, CRM, loyalty, and other advanced tools—behind high plans.
- Delivery: WIth integrated delivery and online ordering tools, you can expand your restaurant’s offerings and start selling on UberEats, Skip the Dishes, and DoorDash. All online orders integrate seamlessly with your kitchen as they come in alongside your other orders.
- Inventory management: Lightspeed has inventory tools that let you easily complete inventory counts with barcode scanners, reporting on stock, including freshness reports and expiration tracking, and ingredient-level tracking that updates as items are ordered from your menu.
- Mobile capabilities: Lightspeed Restaurant is our most recommended iPad Restaurant POS system. It has a user-friendly interface, mobile payment processing, tableside order placing, and restaurant management tools, all from its mobile point of sale app.
- Payment processing: Every Lightspeed account holder is automatically enrolled in Lightspeed Payments for processing transactions through your POS. Lightspeed Payments offers competitive processing rates and is conveniently pre-integrated into your account.
- Flexible payments: Every Lightspeed Restaurant POS account comes pre-integrated with Lightspeed Payments. While you can opt to use a different merchant account, you will incur a higher monthly fee and lose access to certain advanced features.
- Paywall for Advanced Features: While Lightspeed has a lot of great features, many are locked behind high plans with bigger price tags. Consider Square for a mobile POS app that includes a lot more in its base plan.
Shopify POS: Best for Omnichannel Sellers
Shopify is one of the leading ecommerce solutions today and also has great tools for in-person sales, social media selling, and click-and-collect orders. In fact, it’s our top-recommended multichannel POS system for retailers.
Businesses that do heavy online sales and need an excellent ecommerce solution and in-store POS application will appreciate the strong inventory and customer management tools. However, if you already have an ecommerce solution and are not willing to give it up, look into PayPal Zettle or Square, which have free POS apps that integrate with popular online stores.
Shopify earned 3.50 out of 5 on our evaluation. It took a hit because it does not offer a time clock or restaurant features, does not have an offline mode, and you must use Shopify payment processing. Nonetheless, it had one of the highest scores for general POS features and maxed out our expert score for value for the dollar.
- Online sales, mail order/telephone order (MOTO), and dropshipping: Shopify gives you shipping discounts—a great asset for mail order companies. Except for Square, no other mobile POS on our lists offers this. Plus, if you’d like to add dropshipping to your offerings, you can connect Shopify to one of hundreds of dropshipping companies.
- Fraud protection: Shopify provides transaction analysis to spot suspicious charges and bring them to your attention, plus other fraud prevention tools. Most POS apps have some of this, but Shopify uses machine learning so it can adapt to the changing approaches of criminals. (Square has better chargeback protection in that it waives up to $250 in chargeback fees.)
- POS features: Shopify, like most of the mPOS on our list, handles sales with taxes and discounts, collects customer information, and sends receipts. Like Loyverse, you can use your phone’s camera to scan barcodes. It ties seamlessly to Shopify’s online store, so you get all the advantages of Shopify as well.
- Payment processing: All Shopify users use Shopify Payments to process their transactions. The processing rates for Shopify Payments are low, but you cannot integrate other processors into your Shopify POS if you have other preferences.
- App library: Shopify has a huge selection of app integrations that you can add to your POS and/or ecommerce site so that you have all the tools and features you might need at no extra cost from Shopify.
- Shipping: Not only does Shopify have great order management for all your online orders, but it also partners with all the major carriers to offer discounted, fast shipping. Not only that, shipping rates and label printing are integrated right into your POS.
- Age verification: If you sell age-restricted items, you need a third-party application like Age Check. Clover, on the other hand, has this in their systems.
- Free use of other merchant accounts: While Loyverse and Clover let you use third-party merchant accounts without charge, Shopify adds a 0.5% to 2% fee. And, while you can use other payment processors for online orders, you’re locked into using Shopify Payments for POS sales.
Methodology: How We Evaluated Mobile POS Systems
We pulled from decades of experience by our researchers, personal use, operating POS systems in retail settings, and studying and testing these systems. Then, we combined this with feedback from long-term, real-world users who have posted reviews on trusted third-party sites.
The best mobile POS apps optimize the balance of hardware, software, and payment processors. We started by selecting only those with a mobile app. This ensures you can run the program on a smartphone or tablet. However, many, like Square or Clover, had their own hardware as well.
Then, we looked for software features that not only let you ring up sales but track inventory and manage customers (such as Loyverse’s loyalty program). For payment processing, we selected a mix of those with proprietary merchant services and those that offer you a choice.
As often happens when evaluating POS software, Square tops the list. In addition to being the best POS app for small businesses, it’s also on lists for POS for restaurants, payment processing, and more. Square was built for mobile, and its POS application reflects that focus even as it has grown to encompass brick-and-mortar applications.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
25% of Overall Score
Pricing involves more than subscription fees. There are also transaction fees, with some providers allowing you to shop providers and others locking you into a set-payment processor. And finally, there are hardware costs. Square, Lightspeed, and Zettle earned 5 out of 5 stars in this category.
20% of Overall Score
These are the basics any strong POS system should have: processing multiple payment types, managing customers, tracking inventory, integrating with third-party software, and having strong reports. We gave extra credit for loyalty programs. Shopify got the highest score in this category.
20% of Overall Score
To make it onto our list, products needed a handheld device that processed payments and synced with a web-based device. We also considered operating systems, offline mode, and digital receipts. Loyverse earned 5 out of 5 stars in this category.
20% of Overall Score
This is a value score based on our expert opinion, popularity, feature set, and how easily you can learn (or teach your employees) the device. All the mobile POS systems on the list scored highly, but Square, Shopify, and Loyverse got perfect scores.
15% of Overall Score
For this, we relied heavily on the reviews of real-world users who use the system daily. We considered the performance of mobile apps as well as the POS app. We also looked for 24/7 customer support since businesses may need help anytime. Square earned the highest score with 4.38.
There’s no reason to be tied to the counter. Many POS apps have a mobile component, either as a handheld device or with a downloadable application. The best mobile POS systems sync with the main program, handle offline transactions, and let you access the backend.
Overall, Square has the best features for the best price while being the easiest to use. Even better, its POS system is free with a competitive payment processing fee. Go to Square and download the POS today.