Best photo-editing apps in 2016

Best photo-editing apps in 2016

Lightroom, VSCO and Snapseed

More power and the ability to edit raw images means that the lines between mobile and desktop image editing is drawing ever closer. We may not be ready to ditch our computers just yet, but with so many apps bursting out of the app store, it can be difficult to know what to use to edit on the go.

Here we have picked 8 of the best mobile photo editing apps that photographers should consider loading on their phones. There are some very familiar names on the list, and the good news is that many of them other everything that you need to edit images on the go. Our advice would be to find one that does, not only, everything you need, but also the one you feel most comfortable with the interface off.

Adobe Lightroom app

1. Adobe Lightroom Mobile

The king of image editing on your smartphone

Platform: iOS (iPad and iPhone version) and Android (Note: Android version is a generation behind the current iOS versions) | Price: Free (but requires a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan at £8.57/$ 9.99 per month)

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Impressive amount of controls
Can sync with Lightroom CC
Subscription required
Not for beginners

Right in at the very top of our list is Adobe Lightroom Mobile. The pinnacle of mobile image editing, Lightroom Mobile has the the vast majority of the Develop tools found in the full version of Lightroom CC. These features include all the exposure, white balance, colour, gradient, colour and clarity settings and the crop, localised adjustment and dehaze tools. Images can also be flagged or have star ratings applied. If all of this is too much, then there is a range of presets and automated features than can be applied with a tap of the finger. Oh, and you can now edit raw files from your iPhone now as well.

However, the reason that Lightroom Mobile stands out is its integration with Lightroom CC. If you have a Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription and Lightroom CC you can seamlessly sync files edited on your computer and on your smart device. Any changes you make on images on your mobile will sync with your desktop, including edits to raw files. And it is all non-destructive; the original image can be recalled at anytime as the edit are only applied to images as they are exported to your camera roll or to another app.

Lightroom Mobile isn’t the only software that can do most of the above, but if you already use Lightroom CC the integration, raw image editing, and regular updates adding new features, make it a must have.



Perfect for subtle, natural looking effects

Platform: iOS (both iPhone and iPad), Android | Price: Free with in-app purchases


Very simple to use
Natural looking effects
Subtle results are for everyone
Some in-app purchases needed

The app has a good basic selection of preset styles, while there are many more styles that can be found through in-app purchases. Most of the images styles are natural in appearance with the emphasis on subtlety rather than over-the-top HDR style effects.

If you want to to create a quick and easy edit, simply select your chosen style and adjust its strength. However, there is plenty more that can be done. Exposure, highlights, shadows, white balance, clarity and skin tones are amongst the adjustments, whilst images can be straightened and have their perspective corrected. Highlights and shadows can be individually tinted to create a really stylised effect. Best of all the app is uncomplicated and very simple to use.

Although VSCO is another Instagram-esque community for photographers, you can simply export images without uploading them to your profile. And if you do take part in the community aspect you can find some great photographers and images, with not a selfie, six pack, duck pout or protein shake in sight.


3. Google Snapseed

Still one of the best image editing apps out there

Platform: iOS and Android | Price: Free

Google Snapseed

Huge range of effects
Good image controls
Dumbed down for some
Can be awkward to use

Besides the usual array of colour, brightness and contrast adjustments, Google Snapseed also has some more advanced features. These features include selective colour channel adjustment, geometric corrections, selective adjustments and a healing brush. Combine this with a range of filter effects, such as Lens Blur. Glamour Glow, HDR Scape, Grunge, Noir and a selection of frames, and it is easy to see why Snapseed is loved by casual photographers and enthusiasts alike.

In our opinion, the only complaint with Snapseed is the interface. A year or so ago this changed from being the kind of interface that enthusiast photographers would be familiar with, to one which is slightly more dumbed down for the more casual user. For many this left it actually more awkward to use when it comes to making multiple adjustments to an image. However, for its huge range of effects and excellent image quality, Snapseed is still one of the best mobile editing apps out there.

Photoshop and more…

Photoshop express

4. Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop’s power in a very simple to use interface

Platform: iOS and Android | Price: Free

Adobe Photoshop Express

Very easy to use
Good basic range of tools
No localized adjustments
No perspective corrections

If you don’t have an Adobe Creative cloud subscription, but want some of the editing power of Adobe Lightroom Mobile, then Adobe Photoshop Express may be about as close as you can get.

Photoshop Express has an extremely simple to use layout and a good range of basic correction tools. Highlights, shadows, colour temperature, clarity, contrast, noise and sharpening are amongst the basic adjustment, whilst cropping is also available.

Sadly there are no perspective or geometric corrections, but there is a big range of preset styles, as well as the ability to save your own, a blemish removal tool and a nice selection of different border effects. Sadly it doesn’t offer the localised adjustments that the excellent, but now discontinued, Photoshop Touch did, but for those wanting some of Photoshop’s power in a very simple to use interface, Photoshop Express should feel that void.


5. Autodesk Pixlr

Packed with features and presets

Platform: iOS and Android | Price: Free

Autodesk Pixlr

Great interface
Excellent range of tools
Can be a bit overwhelming
Might not suit die hard photographers

If you want an image editing app that has loads of presets, a huge range of controls, but with a very easy to use interface, Pixlr is the app for you. Besides all of the color and contrast adjustments, Pixlr has some more advanced tools, such as radial or linear blur adjustments, double exposure, spot healing and a red eye fix. Add in localised brighten and darken brushes, a large selection of preset image styles, frame options and stickers, as well as a text tool, and Pixlr is a great all in one solution that editing images and create great social media posts.


6. Enlight

All you could want in a single app

Platform: iOS | Price: £2.99/$ 3.99


Wealth of features
Interface works well
Not free
iOS only

If you have an iPhone and are after one app that does almost everything then Enlight Photo is the app you need. It has all the colour and contrast controls that you would expect, including level controls, but Enlight an absolute wealth of other features. There are geometric controls, masking and localised adjustments, image blending, a healing brush, tilt shift effect, a huge range of preset styles, textures, light leaks, borders, frames, collage layouts and text options.

With so much going on you would expect Enlight to be overwhelming to use, but the interface works well, with everything logically ordered to make it easy to use. By using the preset styles, casual users area a few taps away from great looking images, whilst the more experienced image editor can play around for ages getting perfect results. It may cost a few pounds or dollars, but it is a very decent investment given that it offers the features of a number of separate apps.

Photo mate

7. Photo Mate R3

One of the most comprehensive photo editing apps on Android

Platform: Android | Price: £7.99/$ 8.09

Photo Mate R3

Wealth of features
Interface works well
Pricey option
Android only

It may not be cheap, but if you are looking for a Adobe Lightroom alternative for Android, the Photo Mate R3 is about as close as you will get.

As well being able to edit JPEG image Photo Mate R3 will edit raw files, and as well as all of the usual colour and exposure adjustments there is also advanced sharpening and noise reduction functions. Combine this with the ability to apply localised colour, contrast, sharpening and blur adjustments, chromatic aberration and lens curvature correction, as well as the option to add watermarks to exported images and Photo Mate R3 becomes one of the most comprehensive photo editing apps on Android.


8. Prisma

And we’ll just throw this in here…

Platform: iOS and Android | Price: Free


Great for re-creating artistic styles
Really fun to use
Not a true image editing app
Needs a decent device

Ok, so technically it isn’t a true photographic editing app, but it has taken the world by storm. The app takes an image and transforms it in to a graphic artwork in the style of a famous artwork. With a click of a button you can make your own Van Gogh, Monet, Lichtenstein or Hokusai.

Unlike other apps that promise to turn your images in to ‘paintings’, Prisma’s clever algorithms do an excellent job of replicating famous artists and styles, rather than just smudging everything and calling it an oil painting, or desaturating and smudging and calling it a watercolor.

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