These days the camera on your smartphone is one of its most important features. Phone manufacturers have been falling over themselves for years now to bring us the best cameras with the most impressive bells and whistles. We’ve seen Google pumping crazy AI features into its Pixel phones and Huawei adding privacy-busting 50X zoom to its P30 Pro. Most phones now, even budget offerings, have two or sometimes even three lens camera app systems as well as a separate front-facing camera for selfies and video calls.
It isn’t just about taking photos though, oh no. These days, if you want your photos to stand out on social media, you need to optimize your photos once you’ve snapped them. That means editing them to make sure they look as good as they possibly can. Fortunately, however, just as the hardware manufacturers have been working overtime on their cameras, software developers have been working hard on photo-editing apps.
Let’s look at the best photo editing apps available for Android on the Google Play Store and iPhone on the Apple App Store.
Best photo editor apps
Pixlr is a very well-regarded browser-based photo editor that you can use on Linux, Windows, or Apple Mac via a modern browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Pixlr also has rather impressive mobile apps for Android devices and iOS iPhones and iPads. The mobile photo apps are designed for quick edits and retouching and make it very easy for users to get great results. There are plenty of filters and features here for you to play around with and once you’re done, the Pixlr apps make it really easy to share your creations via integrated social network connectivity.
If you try out the Pixlr mobile apps and like them, you should definitely try the browser-based app, which actually offers a fairly decent and free alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
PicsArt has a really wide feature set that offers plenty for any budding amateur snapper and social sharer looking to edit photos. PicsArt makes it really easy to put together collages, add cool stickers to your photos, and add all manner of filters and text as well as optimizing your photos with improved lighting and color balancing tools.
The broad appeal of PicsArt is that it is a great tool for people looking to perform serious edits but also works well for those simply looking for a laugh by putting together a meme or creating an entertaining GIF. Interestingly, PicsArt also has a collaboration feature that allows you to submit work to the PicsArt community so that people can make their own edits.
Another excellent mobile photo editing app is Fotor. Fotor gives any budding photographer the tools they need to make a wide variety of professional-looking edits to their photos. The app has over 1,000 filters and includes other more regular features like vignettes, highlights, image temperature and saturation tweaks, exposure control, and more basic editing features like cropping, rotating and brightness and contrast control.
Although you can download a free version, Fotor includes in-app purchases and requires users to log in to use it. The app, however, also includes a very handy one-tap auto improvement feature. A simple click will put Fotor to work editing your photo, which if it doesn’t end up as exactly what you’re after, often provides a great starting point for further edits.
Although Snapseed is Google’s own photo editor, it is an excellent choice for anybody looking to edit the photos they take on their camera. You can add filters, edit the lighting effects on your photos, and also add interesting features like lens bokeh, which is the blurring effect that you get around the subject that is the focus of your image.
The best thing about Snapseed is that it is free and gives you access to almost all the editing features you’ll find in any mobile photo editing app. That being said, it can come off as a little intimidating, if you’re only looking to make simple edits.
Google Photos, formerly Picassa, is an incredible mobile app. Google Photos will automatically back up your photos to the cloud and then prompt you to clear space on your device. You can then view your photos using your internet connection whenever you want. This way you can have pretty much every photo you’ve ever taken in your smartphone’s photo gallery forever. Furthermore, Google’s AI will automatically organize your photos into easily searchable tag groupings and albums.
On top of that rather ridiculously well-executed feature, Google Photos also offers some pretty decent photo editing capabilities. As well as filter options, contrast and saturation editing, and other basic features like cropping and rotating, Photos also has interesting AI-enabled features like auto-cropping of documents.
We’re finishing our look at some of the best mobile photo editing apps with a fun entry to the list. Although Photos Effects Pro sounds like something you’d expect your photo enthusiast uncle to have on his ten-year-old MacBook, it is actually much more suited to a younger Instagram or Snapchat user.
Like most mobile photo editors, Photos Effects Pros has filters and effects, but it stands out for its fun stickers that’ll take your photos and turn them into something truly comical. You can also use your finger to paint on top of your photos and add AI-infused edits like turning your photos into painted or hand-drawn scenes. Outside of these effects’ features, Photos Effects Pro only has a few rudimentary editing tools but it is completely free to use, which means it is definitely worth a download.
Mobile photo editors are a little different from their full-size desktop companions in that they simply can’t offer the complete editing suites your PC or Mac can. Sure, expensive subscription-based apps like Adobe Lightroom CC can give you a real taste of what your PC can do, complete with RAW file editing, but editing photos is much more difficult to do on a smartphone screen of five or six inches than it is on a 15 inch laptop or a computer with a much bigger monitor. You can still do a lot, however, with filters, basic editing techniques, effects, and stickers, which is why we’ve been able to bring you six excellent photo editing apps. Another good mobile photo editing tool worth checking out on your Android phone is VSCO.