A complete guide to all the best photo editing apps

Editing your photos is one of the final steps in the process of creating a photo. It’s a very important step that allows you spice your photo to taste. By doing so you can make a great picture look epic. But what apps to use in that crucial proces? Let’s dive in!

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing the best and polyvalent photo editing apps for your phone.

Let’s start with the why of editing. Different apps have different features. So in order to pick the best one to achieve your goal, you have know what your goal is. Adding text, doing double exposures, … these are all different goals that require different apps.

Download a couple of the apps in this list and try them out for yourself. See if they fit your goals and workflow. You can always uninstall an app if it doesn’t fit your requirements.

Native apps

The native photo editing app of your smartphone
Use the native app on your smartphone for photo-editing

Every smartphone these days comes with a native app. iOs has one and so does Android. You can usually find it embedded in your gallery app. Just go to your photo gallery and choose a photo. Next to the sharing and delete buttons, you will find one labeled ‘edit’.

On Android phones, there are plenty of basic editing options present. As well as a couple of fun and creative ones. Starting with this app will allow you to get the hang of the basics. In most cases the photo edits you can do in this mobile app are already sufficient.

Basic editing options on most Android Smartphones:

  • Rotate and mirror
  • Cropping (with several ratios presets)
  • A set of filters
  • Splash: to add a bit of color to a black and white photo
  • Blur to remove focus and sharpness
  • Adjustments: brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, highlights, shadows, hue, BW filter.
  • Beauty for selfies

Creative editing options on Android Smartphones:

  • Mosaic: a pencil that adds mosaic-style lines
  • Graffiti: to write or draw on your photos
  • Stickers: location, time, and weather-based information
  • Label: A bit like stickers, but more creative shapes and options

The pros of native smartphone photo-editing apps

There are a couple of advantages of having the native app on your smartphone.

  • You don’t have to install it yourself
  • It helps you to fix those basic things fast
  • It is an easy application

The cons of native smartphone photo-editing apps

  • It’s basic
  • It won’t get you high-quality edits

Instagram: as a good photo editing app

photo editing in Instagram
Basic photo editing in the Instagram app for mobile

It’s one of the first apps we all install on a fresh new phone. So I guess this photo-sharing app does not need an introduction. However, not a lot of people see it as a valid photo editing app. Let’s get into the post-processing power of the Instagram app.

Instagrams editing options

Exactly like the native apps on smartphones, Instagram has the standard functions all present.

  • Adjust for the horizon correction
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Structure
  • Warmth
  • Saturation
  • Colour: for highlights and shadows split toning
  • Fade
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Vignette
  • Tilt-shift: Or a focus/blur tool
  • Sharpen

The pros of photo editing in Instagram

  • Easy to share on Instagram afterwards
  • No extra app needed
  • Good basic editing

The cons of photo editing in Instagram

  • No extensive editing
  • Low-res export of the final result
  • Only jpg-editing
VSCO photo editing app
Artsy photo-editing in VSCO

VSCO is a well-known app. A lot of famous Instagrammers and photographers use the app for their photo-editing. The app has a lot of features that work perfectly, along with a nice collection of filters you can add to your photos.

The filters are as easy to use as the ones on Instagram but have a more artsy look. There are also a lot more filters available, and you can purchase extras within the app.

VSCO editing options

  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Adjust: for straightening and cropping
  • Sharpen
  • Saturation
  • Tone: for highlight and shadow edits
  • White Balance
  • Skin Tone
  • Vignette
  • Grain
  • Fade
  • Split Tone
  • Borders: from some nice frames
  • HSL: only in the membership
  • Edit copying to multiple photos

The pros of photo editing in VSCO

  • Easy to use and understand
  • Loads of presets to get you started
  • Good editing options
  • High-resolution exports

The cons of photo editing in VSCO

  • No RAW-support
  • Paying for extra presets can be a roadblock for you

Adobe Lightroom: The great photo editing app

edit photos in Lightroom Mobile
Edit photo’s like a pro in Adobe Lightroom for Mobile

The famous tool for professional photographers has a free mobile app. This comes in handy, especially if you are used to the desktop app. The Mobile app has the same options as the full version on your computer.

A wide range of editing options, preset libraries, export settings, RAW-support and more.

Adobe Lightrooms editing options

  • Selective editing
  • Healing
  • Crop
  • Auto edit option
  • Light
    • Curve
    • Exposure
    • Contrast
    • Highlights
    • Shadows
    • Whites
    • Blacks
  • Color
    • White balance
    • Temperature
    • Tint
    • Vibrance
    • Saturation
    • HSL options
  • Effects
    • Clarity
    • Dehaze
    • Vignette
    • Grain
    • Split Tone
  • Detail
    • Sharpening
    • Radius
    • Detail
    • Masking
    • Noise Reduction
    • Color Noise Reduction
    • Detail Smoothness
  • Optics
    • Remove chromatic aberration
    • Lens profile correction
  • Geometry
    • Distortion
    • Vertical
    • Horizontal
    • Rotate
    • Aspect
    • Scale
    • X Offset
    • Y Offset
  • Presets
  • Export options

The pros of photo editing in Adobe Lightroom

  • RAW editing
  • Extensive editing options
  • High-resolution export
  • A lot of options
  • Professional photo editing app
  • User presets

The cons of photo editing in Adobe Lightroom

  • A bit of a learning curve
  • Large files sometimes take a bit of time

Snapseed: the top free photo editing app

Snapseed a free photo editing app
Extensive photo editing in Snapseed

A double whammy with basic and creative editing options all combined in one app. Snapseed is an intuitive app with lots of different options. You have the editing power of Lightroom combined with the ease of use from VSCO and a couple of fun features.

Basic editing options on Snapseed:

  • Tune Image
  • Details
  • Curves
  • White Balance
  • Crop
  • Rotate
  • Perspective
  • Expand
  • Selective
  • Brush
  • Healing

Creative editing options on Snapseed:

  • HDR-scape
  • Glamour Glow
  • Tonal contrast
  • Drama
  • Vintage
  • Grainy Film
  • Retrolux
  • Grunge
  • Black and White
  • Noir
  • Portrait
  • Head Pose
  • Lens Blur
  • Vignette
  • Double Exposure
  • Text
  • Frames

The pros of photo editing in Snapseed

  • Supports RAW
  • Lots of options for editing
  • Creative possibilities
  • Easy to use

The cons of photo editing in Snapseed

  • A lot of options make it sometimes overwhelming
  • Some of the features look fake when overused
  • No sliders on-screen but finger control, which is sometimes hard

What is your favorite app to edit your photos on your smartphone? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: There is none, I just really wanted to write this piece of content for you. <3

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