Using the best photo editing app for iPhone and Android can transform your photos, improve the look and feel of your Instagram feed, and impress your friends and family. With so many options available, including paid and free, you may feel lost and frustrated. You know you want the best app, but you don’t have time to test out all the editors before choosing your ideal fit.
If you’re wondering, “What is the best photo editing app?” you’re in the right place. To help end your search, we’ve compiled and reviewed the top seven free photo editing apps for Android and iPhone.
Snapseed is one of the most popular photo editing apps for both iOS and Android, thanks to its lightweight build and easy to use interface. The simplistic, minimal interface helps users to understand the app and its settings easily. You get a bunch of presets to choose from to tweak your images in a one-touch format, and as you drag up, you also get a wide range of manual controls for most settings you can imagine. It also gets selective editing for tweaking only certain sections of an image, and you can also reorder the layer of edits to refine your edits at a final stage. All features taken together, Snapseed ranks as pretty much the smoothest photo editing app for Android and iOS devices.
PicsArt is our top pick of the best photo editing apps, because it’s fun, easy to use, yet covers just about all the bases for consumer mobile photography. It provides lots of creative control, excellent image-editing tools and a large variety of attractive filters. In addition, you can quickly select or create fun stickers, combine your pictures into highly customizable collages, add artistic text and share. The full-featured camera module includes pre-capture effects and photo tools.
You can use Remix Chat to share and collaboratively edit photos with the 150 million monthly users of PicsArt, or only with your friends. In-app tutorials are easy to follow, and challenges prompt users to submit their creations based on a specific type of edit or a theme; winners are selected by community vote.
However, ads for PicsArt premium pop up frequently (and annoyingly) in the middle of editing processes. To turn them off — and to have the video editor, plus more tools, filters and content — you have to buy a premium subscription for $11.99 for a single month or $55.99/year. (There’s also a student discount).
PicsArt offers a rich and highly accessible collection of photo-editing and collaging tools for consumer photographers. And it provides lots of creative control while keeping everything fun and lively.
Adobe Photoshop Express
Photoshop Express has many of the same features you’d find in Lightroom, including exposure, contrast and color editing options, but strips out some of the pro tools and cloud syncing and, crucially, ditches the subscription fee. It’s a great tool for tweaking your images to bring out their best, but you’ll also find a decent selection of filters and overlay textures, as well as tools for making cool collages from your images.
It’s not as open to wild creativity as other options on this list, but it’s a solid editing app at a price that’s hard to argue with.
The Adobe Lightroom mobile app is one of the most powerful pro photo editing apps on phones. In fact, it makes for a great companion app for pro photographers and editors who also use the full, desktop version of the Lightroom app. One of the key features of the Lightroom mobile app that makes it stand out from the rest of the competition is its support for RAW files, letting pro photographers tweak professional shots from full-frame cameras even without a laptop. However, do keep in mind that the app interface is not the simplest, so absolute beginners may take some time to get the full hang of it. The app also reserves a significant number of its key features for its paying customers, but on the flip side, does also work as a free image format converter.
Canva is not the conventional image editing app that you would get with the other ones in this list. Instead, it’s more of a creativity suite that lets you create teasers, fillers and related graphics for posting across your social handles. It’s super nifty if you are ardent at posting on your social media handles. While the Canva Pro service unlocks most of the app’s powerful creativity features, the free app is good enough for casual users. It also lets you make basic adjustments to photos shot by you, after which you may choose to use them in your own poster designs as well. All things considered, though, it makes for one of the best creativity and editing apps around.
The main selling point of Afterlight is the way it lets you play with light-based effects. The overall goal of the app is to give users a way to generate the ‘film burn’ effect that is reminiscent of celluloid film. Alongside that, it gives users a neat interface to tweak fine colour, light and shadow settings to go with the effects that would be applied to the images. It comes with a fairly neat interface but works better for those who would prefer a preset based experience of editing photos — rather than getting the full manual control to edit images. On overall terms, Afterlight is one of the most impactful mobile image editing tools on phones.
Bazaart’s montage and collage tools let you combine multiple different elements — from photos, to text, to graphics — and layer them all up to create a finished work of art. It has tools that let you instantly erase the background from behind a portrait subject (I was amazed at how well it worked!) in order to put in a new background or layer up multiple effects. It also has a huge variety of templates to create gorgeous collages for Instagram stories too.
There are so many different ways you could try and composite different images together that the only boundary will come down to how creative you’re feeling. Head over to Bazaart’s Instagram page for some inspiration.
Google Photos is the only photo app that we consider a necessity for any mobile device. If you’ve ever lost all your media files when your phone died or was misplaced, you’ll understand why. While it only has minimal editing tools, Google Photos organizes your photos and videos, offers easy sharing and — most importantly — automatically backs up your entire image library to the cloud. From there, it seamlessly syncs to all your devices where the app is installed. That includes Apple phones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers; Windows computers, and all Android devices.
Google’s photo-editing features are designed to require very little input from the user, and as such are quick and simple. For instance, the only user-controlled sliders you get are to adjust color, light and contrast (pop) on the overall image. It also has a handful of filters with a slider to control the strength of the effect. Google Photos has its fun side, too. For instance, it automatically generates animated GIFs from photos you take in batches. Advertisement
Google Photos is also one of our top choices for the best photo storage and sharing sites. Just bear in mind that it no longer offers unlimited storage: any photos you upload will count against your free 15GB Google Drive limit. If you want more space, you’ll need to pay for it, with prices starting at $1.99 a month for 100GB.
That caveat aside, Google Photos is a must. Just download it, set it up and let it do its thing in the background.
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The VSCO app had quickly become one of the most popular in the mobile space thanks to its range of preset filters and image editing tools focused on colour and contrast. Even now, it remains one of the most popular for offering one of the most intricate image filter selections that you can get on a mobile photo editing app. The VSCO filters offer multiple layers of colour adjustments, giving users a wide range of preset looks to choose from. Interestingly, VSCO also has its own social community that supports creators sharing their edited works with each other.