Blinkist vs Headway: Which One Is Best For You?

Blinkist vs Headway Cover

“Summary summary, on my phone, which one is the fastest to consume?” Snow White jokes aside, with dozens of book summary services out there, you might have a hard time picking the learning app that’s best for you. If you’re looking for a quick take on Blinkist vs Headway, you’ve come to the right place!

In this comparison piece, we’ll take a look at both services and compare them with regards to library size, quality of the content, usability, differences in features, and pricing. To quickly and easily navigate this post, simply use the table of contents below! Click on whichever section interests you the most, and start learning.

Blinkist vs Headway: Comparison Table

Both Blinkist and Headway have book summaries as their core offering. You can either read or listen to them, and both apps structure their summaries around 5-15 key insights. Here’s a quick comparison table to show you where they are similar, and where they differ.

  Blinkist Headway
Content Library 7,500+ book summaries (fiction and non-fiction), as well as guides, collections, and shortcasts (podcast summaries) 1,500+ summaries of non-fiction books
Subscription mode Basic and Premium Basic and Premium
Trial Free 7-day trial Free 7-day trial
Free plan One free daily pick and access to selected collections One free summary a day and 10 daily insights (short tips from various books)
Premium Subscription
  • Unlimited access to the entire library
  • Exclusive expert guides and collections
  • 2 for 1, share an extra premium account for free
  • Send reads to Kindle
  • Sync highlights to Evernote
  • Personalized recommendations
  • Ability to highlight and save key insights
  • Download titles for offline access
  • Unlimited access to 1,500+ summaries
  • Visual explainers, challenges, and collections
  • Personalized recommendations
  • Ability to highlight and save key insights
  • Download titles for offline access
Unique Features
  • Shortcasts (podcast summaries)
  • Spaces where you can share, recommend and discuss titles with anyone
  • Guides with activities, exercises & infographics
  • Discounts on full-length audiobooks
  • Challenges
  • Achievements
  • Visual explainers
  • Spaced repetition with custom flash cards
  • iOS and Android mobile devices
  • Desktop
  • Kindle integration
  • Offline access (premium users)
  • iOS and Android mobile devices
  • Web app (limited functionality)
  • Annual plan costs $99.99 per year
  • Monthly plan is $15.99
  • Annual plan costs $89.99 per year
  • Monthly plan is $14.99
Refund policy
  • 14-day money back guarantee
  • None for subscriptions purchased on the website, but if you bought inside the app, you may be able to get one by contacting Apple or Google support
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • English
  • Spanish
  • App Store 4.8 ⭐️ (115,000 reviews)
  • Google Play 4.5 ⭐️ (112,000 reviews)
  • App Store 4.7 ⭐️ (81,000 reviews).
  • Google Play 3.5 ⭐️ (69,000 reviews)

Selection: Blinkist’s Library Is 4x Bigger Than Headway’s

Given that Blinkist is a lot older than Headway, with a bigger and more experienced team, it is perhaps unsurprising that their library outnumbers Headway’s by a factor of 4:1. Generally, I believe any book summary service with more than 1,000 titles probably offers enough ground to cover. As a beginner, you can read a different title every day for almost 3 years!

Once you’re a more seasoned non-fiction reader, however, quantity may be a deciding factor. While Headway focuses mainly on self-help and productivity, they do cover new bestsellers quickly. But as of right now, they only offer 7 titles in the fiction section, for example. With Blinkist, you’ll never run out of options. Even in collections and guides that rely on books you’ve seen before, you’ll likely discover a few new picks along the way.

That said, Headway’s visual guides and collections of 10 daily insights feel like a great counterweight to the smaller selection. They add depth and breadth to your experience. Ultimately, however, Blinkist is the clear winner in the selection department.

Quality: Blinkist Is Strong on Fundamentals & Polish, Headway Wins on Visuals

I’ve been a Blinkist user for almost 10 years, and I remember at some point thinking their summaries were a bit “dry.” Over the last few years, however, they’ve really stepped up their quality game.

Some summaries are more poetic in their language, others are motivating in tone, others again are more descriptive — whatever the theme of the book, the team tries to match it. The audios have also become much more lively, with speakers (all human, by the way!) striking different tones in different sections and little sound effects to emphasize important moments.

Sure, every now and then, you come across a summary that feels a bit rushed. All in all, however, Blinkist’s text and audio summaries are very high-quality, and they do a great job of maintaining that quality across the board.

Headway as a company launched in 2019. As such, they initially had the task of catching up to the competition. Selection is the most obvious and easiest way to do that. But if you summarize 1,000+ books very quickly, your quality will suffer.

Headway’s summaries aren’t bad by any means, but I do feel they are a bit more bland and factual than Blinkist’s. Whereas Blinkist has already learned that you need stories, human elements, and quirky bits around the edges to make content shine, Headway still needs to make that shift.

That said, when it comes to using visuals and adding little, non-content details to the experience, Headway really shines. All the summaries they have turned into visual guides, for example, are phenomenal. Consuming those is a lot more fun and memorable than reading the pure-text ones. Similarly, the highlighted pull quotes in the text summaries are a nice touch, and the gamification features work really well.

It’s a bit sad that the text summaries in Headway lack some of the fun spirit the rest of the app clearly has, but it’s not a major dealbreaker by any means. Overall, however, Blinkist takes the quality crown, because fundamentals matter, and Blinkist has those down.

Do Blinkist and Headway Use AI to Write/Read Their Summaries?

At this point, you might be wondering if either company relies on AI to write and/or read their summaries. Here’s my general take on that, and it applies to literally all book summary services: Assume everyone is using AI, but don’t let anyone get away with relying on AI alone.

Blinkist’s CEO Holger Seim said in a podcast that the team is embracing AI in various ways, including getting new summary drafts out faster. That said, you can clearly feel the human work that went into each title.

I don’t know whether Headway relies on AI to generate their summaries, but I assume they take a similar approach. Likewise, however, you can definitely feel a strong human touch on each summary.

Neither service’s summaries feel robotic in tone, and even though Headway initially relied on AI text-to-speech for their audio feature, most of the summaries I’ve listened to are now read by humans, just like on Blinkist.

Usability: Two Simple Apps With Slightly Different Intentions 

With thousands of hours of design expertise having gone into them, both apps are easy to use and highly intuitive. They each have just 3-4 navigation tabs at the bottom, and scrolling through their libraries and suggestions is simple enough. A tap here, a swipe there — every child can understand how to use these apps within a few minutes, and that’s great.

The only major caveat here is that Blinkist is fully available on both mobile and desktop, whereas Headspace’s web app is severely limited in functionality.

As for minor differences, Headway makes more use of the Instagram story-style feature, where you just tap through the content, similar to Uptime.

Overall, Headway relies more on visual appeal, encouragement, and a cutesy appearance. The app wants to gamify your learning. It is supposed to feel fun and effortless. You spend a bit of time in the app every day, fill your daily tracker, and that’s your “dose of learning” for the day.

Blinkist, on the other hand, feels more professional, polished, and geared towards outcomes. You can read and listen every day, for sure, but even if you just want a specific resource to solve a particular problem, Blinkist makes surfacing that knowledge really easy and efficient.

All in all, both apps are more than intuitive enough, and which one you prefer from a user experience standpoint is mostly a matter of taste.

Key Differences: Blinkist’s Curation & Sharing vs. Headway’s Gamification & Remembering

When it comes to the features that make each of these apps unique, you can see two different themes emerge:

Blinkist wants to help you learn the right thing at the right time, and then share that knowledge with the people around you.

Headway wants to gamify your reading so you can make daily learning a habit, and help you remember more of what you learn.

The apps’ unique features support these missions.

Blinkist’s Unique Features

  • Shortcasts are 5-15 minute summaries of often hour-long podcast interviews. Whatever the core theme and message, these will help you internalize them faster, minus the distractions.
  • Spaces are mini book clubs in which you can share any set of blinks with whoever you invite. Even if they don’t have Premium, they can read or listen — and you can all talk about what you learn together.
  • Guides organize blinks, shortcasts, exercises, and infographics in a certain order to help you achieve a specific outcome, like building better habits or getting more work done.
  • 2 for 1 allows you to gift an entire, full-scale premium membership to anyone you want, for free. Once again, it’s about learning more together.

Headway’s Unique Features

  • Streaks motivate you to spend at least a little bit of time learning every day.
  • Challenges are time-based curricula, making it more likely you’ll follow through on your learning goals for 5, 10, or even 30 days in a row.
  • Achievements celebrate your learning progress and will inspire you to do even more.
  • Visual explainers add another medium to how you can learn, thus making it easier to retain the lessons you pick up.
  • Spaced repetition with custom flash cards lets you pick specific highlights you’d like to remember. You can then practice them in increasingly large intervals until they enter your long-term memory.

Pricing: Near-Identical Terms, Risk-Free Trials, Different Discounts

Both apps offer a free tier which gives you access to one new book a day, only on that day. The selection is random. They also both offer a risk-free, 7-day trial with full access, which is a great way to try them both and decide which one works best for you.

Blinkist and Headway’s pricing plans are also almost identical. Headway charges $14.99 for its monthly plan, Blinkist charges $15.99. In both cases, paying monthly is almost twice as expensive as getting an annual membership — and that’s not including discounts.

Annual memberships go for $99.99 on Blinkist and $89.99 on Headway. Headway offers a 33% discount if you sign up right after your onboarding quiz* or 46% off if you use our exclusive partner coupon. Blinkist offers 35% off if you go through an exclusive partner like us. Both companies offer higher discounts on Black Friday, etc, but at around $60 for your first year, they’re both great deals year round.

Blinkist vs Headway: Which One Is Best For You? (Conclusion & Recommendation)

As a company, Blinkist is more than twice as old as Headway, and, ultimately, this difference is mirrored in their apps: Blinkist is the more mature product, suitable for beginners but extra empowering for advanced learners. For someone like me, who’s read many self-help books, knows the space, and doesn’t need a lot of handholding to regularly learn new things, it’s the ideal service. I can open the app, find what I need, and exit again. Or, I can casually browse and let myself be surprised.

Headways is slightly less polished but more gamified, making using the app a lot of fun — and thus great for beginners. At this point, I’m not in their target market, but I can see why someone first getting into nonfiction books might make this their app of choice. They could use Headway to build a daily learning habit, then subsidize (or substitute) that habit later with other products, like Blinkist.

In the end, both of these apps are affordable, offer a lot for the price, and will help you learn more in less time. That’s our main concern here at Four Minute Books, and that’s why we like both of them.

If you want to read our in-depth review of Blinkist, you can do so here. Want the full scoop on Headway? That’s coming soon!

And if you want to try either app with a free 7-day trial and secure a 30%+ discount, you can use the buttons below and support us at no extra cost to you. Thank you, and always keep learning!

Last Updated on October 26, 2023