In recent years, phone cameras have jumped from useful shooters to great ones. They may not be able to match the quality of something like a DSLR camera, but for most people they are more than enough. And while plenty of things are happening behind the scenes of your phone's camera to improve image quality, even the best photos could use a freshening up ̵
What to Look for in a Photo Editor
Before we dive into the list, here are some general categories on which you can rate photo editing apps.
- Tools: Tool sets differ from app to app, but you want to make sure that the app you download covers at least the basics: cropping, color correction and filters. Some more advanced apps may offer tools like image merging, special effects and automatic enhancements, depending on how deep you want to go with your edits.
- Focus: With how deep the world of photo editing is, some apps choose to focus on only one aspect of it, while others try to be all-rounders. You can find great apps in both categories, but it's important to make sure the focus of the app matches your use case.
- Easy Sharing: Chances are if you edit a photo on your phone, you are doing it to post on social media sites or to share with friends. Most apps make this as simple as tapping the "Share" button, and we've made sure that all the apps we've selected offer simplicity.
- Additional Features: Some apps go beyond photo editing and offer additional features to make the app more versatile. This can range from social elements (such as publicly sharing your images with other users of the app) to features such as camera support (being able to take photos from within the app itself) and video editing. None of these are necessary to have a photo editing app, but they are still nice additions and will be noticed as such.
With that said, let's take a look at some apps.
The Professional Choices: Adobe Photoshop Apps and Adobe Lightroom
Just like in the desktop photo editing market, Adobe is a major player in mobile photo editing with four great apps.
Photoshop is one of the most powerful photo editors on desktop, and when trying to translate such a complicated program to mobile it can be hard to do without it bloated to feel. So Adobe actually has three different Photoshop apps, each of which covers a different part of the photo editing process: Photoshop Express, Photoshop Fix, and Photoshop Mix.
Photoshop Express is a general purpose editor, including filters, simple effects and collage editing. If you want to go deeper into repairing your photos, Photoshop Fix gives you access to a lot of tools for retouching and editing your photos. Fix is where you can do things like smooth out faces, adjust lighting and distort parts of the image. And finally there is Photoshop Mix, which is quite simple: you can cut out and mix parts from different photos.
You can use all three apps together to create fantastic images. Perfect the look of your image in Fix, crop it and trim it in Mix, before using the Express to add it to a collage or add some final details.
All three Photoshop apps are free. But they can also be used with a Creative Cloud subscription (from $ 9.99 per month for access to Lightroom and Photoshop) and to transfer projects back and forth between desktop and mobile – perfect for professionals who need to edit on the go.  Lightroom ” width=”1600″ height=”900″ src=”/pagespeed_static/1.JiBnMqyl6S.gif” onload=”pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon(this);” onerror=”this.onerror=null;pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon(this);”/>
Lightroom aims to make the photo editing process as simple as possible so that photographers can spend more time taking photos than looking at an app on their phone. You can use simple sliders to adjust everything from contrast to color correction, or you can use different presets to suit your taste. Despite its simple design, Lightroom is surprisingly powerful and can even be used in conjunction with the Photoshop apps mentioned above for more in-depth editing.
Lightroom is free to download, but if you want more features like cloud storage, selective tweaks, and a healing brush, you have to pay $ 4.99 per month or $ 59.99 per year for Lightroom Premium.
Free and Simplistic: Snapseed
Snapseed is the easiest route to get in-depth photo editing effects. It was created by Google, so the user interface has the same & # 39; simple yet powerful & # 39; feeling like many Google apps. Snapseed has a large and varied toolset of effects, and all of them are extremely customizable, so you can make your image look exactly the way you want.
And the best part? Snapseed is completely free – no reason not to try it out.
General Purpose: Pixlr
Pixlr is a great in-depth editor. It features more complex tools like image merging and double exposure, but it still keeps things simple enough not to be overwhelming. In fact, there are plenty of templates and presets that beginners can use to show them the possibilities of the app.
Pixlr is free to download, but if you want to remove ads and add more tools like stickers, overlays and a For 150 extra fonts you have to pay for the premium plan, which is $ 1.99 per month or $ 11 99 per year.
Varied Tools: PicsArt
Picsart is a photo editor filled to the brim filled with effects and tools. There are over 3,000 tools in the app that range from complex effects to simple cropping options. You can add text and stickers, use templates and even do some light video editing. It also includes "Daily Challenges" that give you a specific photo editing objective if you are looking for inspiration.
Picart is free to download, but if you want to remove ads and access even more advanced features, you must purchase the "Gold" subscription, which is $ 3.99 per month.
Simple yet Stylish: Polarr
If you prefer simple yet impressive edits, Polarr is the app for you. It may not have thousands of effects like Picsart, but the features it gives you are powerful and can lead to great looking images. You can also apply filters and overlays and use automatic enhancements so that the app does some of the work for you.
Polarr is free to download, but you cannot access certain advanced features (such as overlays)). For the full Polarr experience, you need Polarr Pro, which is $ 3.99 per month or $ 19.99 per year.
Social Editing: Fotor
Fotor is another great editor with many features, including various effects, in-depth tools for editing things like color and lighting, and the ability to create collages. But in addition, and what makes Fotor special, is the social component.
Fotor focuses on sharing photos with other users of the app and even runs contests in which users can participate – you can even win prizes. Not everyone likes that, but if you are, it can provide a nice change and motivation for your photo editing. You can even sell your photos through the app (but Fotor costs 50% of all profits).
Fotor is completely free.
Camera Plus Editor: VSCO
VSCO can serve as both your photo editor and your camera app. Even with this split focus, it still manages to pack an impressive photo editing suite. You can apply filters, adjust color correction, and add frames and borders to your images. It's not as deep as some of the more powerful apps we've listed above, but it's still enough to enhance images without having to switch to another app after taking your photos. It also includes a number of video editing features.
VSCO is free to download, but you can also pay for its membership ($ 19.99 per year) to access over 200 photo editing presets, some advanced video editing features, and weekly photo challenges.
Best for Portrait Editing: Airbrush
Airbrush aims to make your selfies and portraits look their best. You can smooth out faces, brighten eyes and teeth, remove blemishes, add special effects and adjust depth. With such powerful tools, your photos will look better than ever with Airbrush.
Airbrush is free to download, but if you want to remove ads and access more premium features (like adding wallpapers and more facial retouching tools), it will cost you $ 19.99 per year.
Best for B&W Photography: Hypocam
Black and white photography is trickier than it looks. It's important to get the tone, texture and angle of a photo just right, or it will look like a cheap filter. This is what Hypocam focuses on, giving black and white photographers a specialized toolset – nothing more, nothing less. There are even large collections of sample photos from renowned photographers to give you a boost of inspiration.
Hypocam is free to download, but several filter and texture packs are available as in-app purchases.
The One You Already Have: Google Photos
Google Photos may not have the same in-depth tools or advanced effects of the apps we already talked about, but it should by no means be ignored. It includes the most basic tools, such as lighting and color-level adjustments, along with the ability to draw on images, crop images, and add filters. While the photo editing features in the app are simple, they are still good enough to quickly edit your photos. And since Google Photos comes pre-installed (and is free) on most Android phones, that's about as much as you can ask.
Built-in Editing: Instagram
While it may seem strange to rely on Instagram's included photo editing, the built-in editor has some nice features and effects that are difficult (or impossible) can be found in other apps. It also covers all your basic color correction, cropping and filtering needs. You don't even have to post the photos to save them to your phone (although it does require a workaround).
And, as you probably already know, Instagram is free.