Are you using the right photo editing app for your mobile photography? With so many to choose from it’s no wonder we struggle to find the right one. In this article we’ll show you best 25 photo editing apps for iOS and Android devices and help you identify the best ones for you.
First, let’s see how far we’ve come. The very first smartphones with cameras had the most basic, primitive editing features – and the photo quality was so poor you probably wouldn’t even bother trying to edit your smartphones on your laptop or desktop. As the cameras improved and images quality increased it made sense to transfer images off the smartphone and onto a computer running photo editing software. Today’s smartphones typically have larger screens, intuitive touch-screen interfaces and natural gesture-driven actions, faster processors and, therefore, better photo editing features and the ability to run advanced photo editing apps.
The more powerful and capable our smartphones and their inbuilt cameras become, the more scope photo editing app developers have to design and develop incredible photo editing apps to help you achieve the results you want.
Let’s look at the very best photo editing apps available today. I’ve grouped them by what the app is primarily used for.
Table of Content
General-purpose photo editing apps
Apps which are considered to be ‘all-rounders’, capable at all the common photo editing tasks and perhaps offering something unique too.
Stylish photo editor with well-organised features and an intuitive user interface including swipe gesture control. Now owned by Google. This really is one of the best known and most loved photo editing apps out there – not least because it’s available for both iOS and Android devices. One of its killer features is the way adjustments are ‘stacked’ so they can be revisited and adjusted later on. You’ll love the user interface and the well organised features.
- Automatic adjustments as well as offering a high degree of manual adjustments
- A range of good quality effects and filters including HDR, vignette and B&W
- Ability to create and save filter combinations
- Selective adjustments
- Frames and text
- iOS & Android versions available
- Easy sharing of images on social networking platforms
- Non-destructive editing using ‘stacks’
- All mobile photographers but especially professionals requiring fine control over their photos and appreciate a well-designed user interface.
Photo editing app offering stylish filters, textures and frames as well as conventional photo editing features. Afterlight is an extremely popular app with a vast range of tasteful, stylish filters, textures and frames. You can expect polished, professional results and an excellent user interface. Definitely a professional tool which can be used for creating credible results.
- 74 unique filters
- 78 natural textures – real 35mm film light leaks
- 128 frames
- 15 image adjustment tools
- Cropping & Transformation tools
- Photographers wanting an easy way to create ‘grown-up’ professinal photographic results quickly and with the minimum fuss.
Powerful and well-featured photo editing app with an extensive collection of basic and advanced editing tools. This is one of the better all-rounders on offer with the ability to make simple or advanced adjustments to your photos in an intuitive way. Some of the filters and effects are a bit over-the-top but all can be used subtly to suit your taste.
- Extensive range of editing features
- Basic through to advanced exposure and colour settings
- Advanced creative options
- Best-in-class built-in Help feature
- Excellent mask features to enable selective application of adjustments
- iOS only
- Photographers of all ability levels (due to the excellent Help features) but especially those who like more creative, surreal or fantasy results.
Adobe Photoshop Express
A scaled-down, streamlined version of the extremely popular and professional desktop version of Adobe’s Photoshop. Adobe’s desktop version of Photoshop is probably the most popular choice for professionals when it comes to photo editing – so it’s no surprise that their mobile version, Photoshop Express, is so impressive. Apart from sharing its genes with its bigger brother, this app’s killer feature is its ability to fix common photo problems fast – whilst also providing fine manual control of image adjustments for the more obsessive Photoshop user.
- Fast, intuitive photo touch-up features including red-eye & pet-eye removal, straighten and crop
- Conventional manual control of hue, brightness, white balance etc.
- Borders, frames and collages
- Free but additional filter/effect/features available to purchase as packs
- Available for iOS, Android and Windows
- Anyone already used to the excellent desktop version of Photoshop – or those seeking to upgrade to something more professional.
Phototoaster is an excellent all-rounder with a huge range of effects, filters and features. Quite apart from this massive range of effects and extensive, advanced editing features this app’s “editing brushes” really make selective editing of your photos a breeze and the results speak for themselves. I’m not crazy about the user interface but it works well enough and it has an enormous fan-base of enthusiastic users.
- Countless one-click effects, filters, texture overlays and borders
- Brush-on exposure adjustments
- Conventional photo editing tools
- Multiple undo
- Separate colour channel processing
- EXIF support
- All photographers from beginners to advanced.
Adobe Lightroom Mobile
Lightroom Mobile attempts to get all the core features of the desktop version of Lightroom onto a mobile device. The workflow will feel familiar to desktop users but obviously the interface is geared more towards mobile devices.
- Adjustable tone curves
- Vignetting and Split toning
- Colour and B&W adjustments
- Dozens of presets
- Exposure, Contrast, Vibrance, Saturation and White balance tools
- Available for iOS and Android (requires Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to
- Anyone wanting access to the core features of the desktop version but on a mobile device.
Innovative general purpose camera and photo editing app which majors in shallow depth-of-field effects. A popular app which seems to have a happier customer base in its Android guise. It attempts to provides the very desirable shallow depth-of-field effect we take for granted in digital SLR cameras. It does this fairly well and also offers various tools and effects for enhancing your photographs in other ways.
- 18 filter effects
- Instant focus / blur tool
- Highlight glare with custom shapes
- Before/After preview
- Edge blur adjustment for a more natural effect
- iOS and Android versions available
- Photographers yearning for shallow depth-of-field effects but who can’t yet afford the iPhone 7 Plus!
VSCO is a classy, understated photo editing app with an analog film bias. Pronounced ‘visco’ this popular app is minimal in design with an unfussy user interface and a rather ‘grown-up’ range of quality filters which can be easily adjusted. The filters are subtle and mimic classic and modern analog films – something that will appeal to those from a film background.
- iOS and Android versions available
- Class-leading sharpening features
- Film emulation plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom
- FREE with additional preset bundles available for purchase.
- The discerning photographer, especially those familiar with film photography and the wide range of once-popular films and their characteristics.
Handy Photo is a fully-featured photo editing app with a few tricks up its sleeve. The user interface won’t be to everyone’s taste and it’s certainly not as classy as some of the more established apps featured in this article – but what it lacks in design it more than makes up in terms of features and results. The developers have to be applauded for including some rare features such as the ‘tiny planet’ effect which effectively wraps your photo around a sphere, creating a fish-eye effect which results in your scene looking like a planet! The uncropping feature is equally innovative and allows you to crop your photos in a way which means you don’t have to sacrifice image size or quality. It has to be seen to be believed.
- Very simple retouching tools for removing unwanted elements from your photos – with just a single tap
- Wide range of adjustable effects and filters including glow and fog
- Amazing ‘tiny planet’ effect rarely found in other apps
- Ability to move an object from one photo to another
- Unique ‘uncropping’ feature
- Selective application of effects and filters
- iOS only
- Creative photographers looking for unique creative opportunities in addition to the staple photo editing toolbox.
Stackables is a powerful app specialising in adding gradients and textures to your photos. Stackables offers advanced, comprehensive layering and blending of effects but also offers the usual general purpose image adjustment tools such as white balance, exposure, vignette, sepia, grain, blur, tilt and shift etc. The results are very professional and tasteful.
- Offers full TIFF support
- Over 200 effects
- Textures, light-leaks, vintage gradients and film filters
- Geometric patterns
- Over 20 image adjustment tools
- iOS only
- Photographers looking for more professional and tasteful effects than some more of the more gimmicky offerings out there.
Pixelmator is a fully-featured all-rounder with Photoshop-challenging capabilities. This is one of those apps that’s trying to do everything. I’m happy to say it succeeds and is a viable challenger to Photoshop Express and Snapseed’s crown. Unlike the button maelstrom some apps subject us to Pixelmator manages to just show us the controls we need to see for the adjustments we’re wanting to make. I would seriously recommend trying this app out.
- Full range of photo editing tools including distortion correction
- Enormous range of templates and presets to improve workflow
- Import/Export PSD, JPG, PNG and many other formats
- Extensive graphic design features including text, shapes
- Apple Pencil compatibility with palm-rejection
- Store and access images on iCloud Drive
- iOS only (Mac version available too)
- All photographers – due to the simple user interface which will appeal to beginners but advanced users will appreciate the sheer range of tools and degree of control.
Filmborn is a classic stock film effects and a host of other features. It is a very stylish photo editing app with a oh-so-cool user interface. It majors in realistic stock film effects and is a great way to explore how your photos might look shot on classic film stock. The results are fantastic and could very possibly help you find your ‘style’ and lift your photography to a new level.
- True-to-film presets based on actual film scans
- Curves control for shadows, midtones and highlights
- Real scanning tones to help with tricky lighting situations
- iOS only
- Photographers who love classic film effects and are looking for subtle, effective results.
RNI Films provides real film simulations for mobile photographers. RNI stands for “Really Nice Images” and it doesn’t disappoint on this front. Its simple user interface is a joy to use and the filters and effects are created from scans of real analog film – so the results can’t be matched by the simulations created digitally by some other apps. It’s worth checking out RNI’s other photo editing apps – such as Colibri and Flashback – both of which offer impressive yet subtle colour treatment of your photos.
- Not a camera app but a film app
- Filters created using real film emulsions
- Grain effects scanned from real film, not digitally applied ‘noise’
- iOS only
- The discerning photographer who wants an authentic analog film feel to their images.
Ultralight has a gorgeous user interface and offers intuitive access to excellent editing tools. Rather than overloading the app with features this app confidently offers just the most important ones in a very stylish, accessible way. The user interface is second to none and is a pleasure to use – and this is probably its greatest strength but the results are class-leading too.
- 7 simple, playful editing tools
- 6 different customisable filter packs
- Create and save your own filters
- Conventional editing tools
- iOS only
- Photographers who like their photo editing apps to look as stylish as the photos they’re trying to create. Easy and intuitive for beginners yet capable enough to be appreciated by professional mobile photographers.
Leonardo is a complete photo editing app for iOS devices and a great all-rounder, doing most common editing features pretty well and arguably in a more simple way than the heavy-hitters in this arena, such as Lightroom Mobile or Snapseed. The user interface is a bit button-heavy but only the most fussy users will find that to be a problem. In terms of results the app lets you go as crazy as you like so some restraint might be in order if you want tasteful results. Perhaps avoid if you’re already used to the slick user-interfaces of the more established, professional apps.
- Multiple images can be blended using layers
- Advanced selection tools including magic wand, lasso, brushes etc.
- Many realtime filters
- Image adjustment features such as crop, straighten, clone, text etc.
- Offers PSD output to enable import into Photoshop
- iOS only
- Photographers wanting common photo editing features who might find some of the more professional photo editing tools intimidating or daunting.
Filterstorm Neue has a quirky user interface but offers advanced editing features usually found on desktop photo editing software such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Aimed squarely at photographers already familiar with the advanced features more often found on desktop photo editing software packages this app really packs a punch. Its user interface feels a bit Windows 8 but there’s nothing wrong with that.
- Advanced control of exposure, colour and contrast using ‘curves’
- Advanced selective adjustments using masks, brushes, eraser etc.
- Linear and circular gradients
- Temperature control with white-point picker
- Text & watermarking features
- Can open RAW images and has advanced export options
- iOS only – https://itunes.apple.com/app/filterstorm-neue/id728479183?ls=1&mt=8
- Advanced photographers wanting desktop photo editing features on their phone.
Lens Distortions enables you to enhance your photos using lighting effects and textures. What sets this apart from the competition is the fact the filters and overlays are all created from photographs – e.g. sun flare effects are created from actual images of sunlight flaring; the haze effects are actual photographs of fog/mist etc. Only a basic range of filters and overlays are offered with the free app but more can be purchased.
- Apply realistic light effects to your photos
- Apply atmospheric overlays
- Adjust overlay opacity, brightness etc.
- Layer multiple images
- iOS only
- Photographers looking for more photo-realistic effects.
Image Repair Apps
These are apps whose main aim is to fix problems with your photos.
Touch Retouch enables you to remove unwanted objects and blemishes from your photos. This is a great little app which really focuses on photo fixing or repair – allowing you a useful set of tools to remove or fix various unwanted aspects of your photographs. The user interface is intuitive and unobtrusive and while some of the more fiddly edits can take a bit of practice it really is worth spending the time learning to use it.
- Selection of areas to fix using lasso or brush
- Automatic replacement of selected area
- Great at removing dust spots, wires or other objects
- Create better compositions by removing unwanted people or objects
- Portrait enhancing feature removes skin blemishes and wrinkles
- Ability to clone/duplicate objects in your photos
- Available for both iOS, Android and Windows platforms
- Photographers who often need to fix or repair photos that have unwanted content (that perhaps couldn’t easily be avoided at the time of shooting/composing).
SKRWT enables you to correct perspective and lens distortion in your photos. This really useful app addresses a common problem with nearly all smartphone photography – the fact the inbuilt lens is wide-angle, which causes image distortion. Most of the time this isn’t a huge problem, but for some kinds of photography, particularly architectural photography where the straight edges of a building are to be preserved, it’s not ideal. In these situations an app like SKRWT can help greatly by straightening converging lines. Other general purpose photo editing apps off this facility too but this app leads the pack.
- Correct horizontal and vertical perspective distortion
- Crop, straighten and rotate your photos
- Fixes distortion from inbuilt and third-party lenses
- Available for iOS and Android
- Architectural photographers.
Special Effect Apps
These apps specialise in producing artistic, creative results from your photos.
Prisma lets mobile photographers get impressive artistic results from your photos. It’s hard to pigeonhole this app as simply a gimmick – because the results are so impressive. Certainly a lot of fun to use and the fact it can apply these styles to video as well as photos is a really bonus. It’s worth noting Prisma doesn’t allow high-resolution export – which may be a problem for anyone hoping to print their results or use them for anything other than web use.
- More than 30 artistic styles available
- Based on the styles of famous artists – e.g. Van Gogh, Picasso etc.
- Available for iOS and Android
- Works with photos and video
- Photographers wanting to recreate their photos in the style of well-known artists.
This is one of the most popular apps for adding special effects to your photos. Mextures offers seemingly endless creative opportunities and its clean, minimalist user interface will help you achieve excellent results in no time.
- Effects can be rotated and/or layered for maximum creative options
- Film grain, textures and gradients
- Analog light leaks
- Stack and blend effects using layers
- Preset “formulas”
- Artistic photographers looking for creative special effects.
Blur backgrounds to create DSLR-like shallow depth-of-field effects. AfterFocus provides a very simple way of blurring backgrounds to achieve the highly desirable shallow depth-of-field effect so often seen with digital SLRs. This is one way to draw attention to your subject and/or disguise a messy, distracting background. The app lets you switch between selecting what will be in focus and what will not. It can yield really good results – but be warned – it’s very image dependent – a busy/messy image will require a lot more work to separate out the bits you want in focus and those you don’t – whereas a cleaner image with lots of large areas of a similar tone or colour will work better and require less work.
- Applies blur to selected area
- Variety of aperture styles
- Adjustable blur strength
- Motion blur effect
- Photographers wanting to use blurring to improve the impact of their images or who to make their images look like they were shot with a digital SLR.
Blur FX offers a variety of out-of-focus effects. Whilst this app isn’t the most professional looking and its user interface is slightly clunky it does offer a couple of features photographers may find useful – specifically selective blurring and colour isolation –both of which can be used to remove distracting background elements, draw attention to the subject or create an artistic feel to photos.
- No frills selective blurring
- Offers colour isolation
- iOS only
- Hobbyist photographers looking for blur effects and colour isolation.
Distressed FX is a simple app for creating stunning photographic art from your photos. Best suited to landscape and still life photography this app makes a valuable addition to your photography app toolbox. The wide range of textures and overlays has been designed by an artist – Cheryl Tarrant – and these are great quality. There are controls for brightness, contrast and saturation as well as the ability to dial the overlay or texture intensity. The results won’t be to everyone’s taste but their quality and impact can’t be faulted.
- 23 overlays
- 19 textures
- Overlays and textures can be used in combination
- iOS only
- Creative photographic artists looking to get artistic, painterly results.
SuperImpose allows you to blend multiple photos together into a single composite image. Once you’ve got your head around the idea of layering images this app makes it really easy to create a wide range of results from your photos.
- Create double-exposure images
- Replace parts of an image with a different image
- Blend textures into an image
- Mask out unwanted regions of an image
- Creative or artistic photographers looking to experiment and create a range of results from the subtle to the extreme.
So there you have it, our epic run down of some of the best photo editing apps for the iPhone and their android equivalents. We have done our best to present a balanced view of the best apps around at the moment. Let us know if you have any favourites not listed here in the comments below.