Phone and tablet cameras can take great pictures, and with a little polishing from a specialized photo editing app, they can become amazing.
There's a huge selection of photo editing apps available for both Android and iOS, which means it can be hard to know which one to choose.
That's why we've rounded up the very best photo editors for both operating systems and put them to the test. Whether you're looking for a tool that's the equivalent of Photoshop to carry in your pocket, or you just want a straightforward way to enhance selfies before sharing them on Facebook, we've got the right app for you.
The best photo editing apps for Android
1. Google Snapseed (free)
Google Snapseed is a remarkable app that packs in more features than many desktop photo editors.
In addition to the usual cropping and rotation tools, it also includes settings for adjusting depth of field, perspective (ideal for compensating for distortion created by your phone camera’s fixed lens), brightness,and curves.
One of Snapseed's most impressive option is Expand, which extrapolates what the area surrounding the subject might look like and uses this data to make the canvas larger – a little like Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill. It works best on images shot against a mostly plain or abstract background.
Snapseed is also great for selfies and other portrait photos. It has a neat tool that recognizes faces in pictures and enables you to subtly change the direction they're facing. The app can also identify and brighten faces automatically.
All of this is topped off with a great selection of filters, each of which is fully customizable. If it all sounds a bit intimidating, don't worry – Snapseed also offers video lessons to help you master certain filters and tools.
All these options combine to make Snapseed the best photo editor for Android devices, and we hope to see a version for Windows desktops.
Download here: Google Snapseed for Android
2. Adobe Photoshop Express (free)
Photoshop Express packages a selection of Adobe's best photo editing tools in a streamlined app that's easy to navigate even on a tiny touchscreen.
Before you can get started, you'll need to sign up for a free Adobe ID using an email address, Google account or Facebook account. You can use this ID to access other Adobe products and services later.
Once that's done, you can select a photo to edit from your mobile device, take a new photo with its camera, or pick an image from Adobe Creative Cloud. This is a particularly handy way to manage your workflow, and makes all your pictures available on any device.
The app includes all the basic editing tools you'd expect, including crop, rotate, brightness adjustment and red-eye correction. What sets it apart from the crowd is its selection of smart filters designed to correct common problems, including color temperature, fogging and exposure issues. There's also a good selection of borders and artistic effects, all of which can be adjusted using simple sliders.
Once you’re done, you can save the finished image to your device, upload it to Adobe Creative Cloud, or share it using any social media app you have installed.
Download here: Adobe Photoshop Express for Android
3. Facetune (£3.99/US$5.99/AU$5.99)
If you’re a fan of selfies and don’t have any qualms about bending the truth a little, Facetune is your new best friend.
This sneaky photo editing app lets you blur imperfections, adjust colors, whiten teeth, and even reshape faces and bodies with a few taps and pushes. Just select the tool you want to use, swipe through the tutorial (or dismiss it with the back arrow), then apply the effect directly to the photo using your fingertips.
It’s best used sparingly – tap and hold the blue button on the bottom right to toggle between the original photo and the edited one and make sure you haven’t overdone it, and watch out for things like patterned backgrounds that might be distorted by less judicious use of the warp tools.
Once you've finished tweaking your photo, you can add a filter then either share it on social media or save it to your device.
Download here: Facetune for Android
4. Prisma (free)
You might be skeptical about apps that claim to imitate artistic styles, and understandably so – the ‘drawing’ and ‘painting’ filters included in many photo editors are terrible. Prisma is the exception, and once you’ve tried it, we think you’ll be convinced.
Although additional filters are available as in-app purchases, there’s a very generous selection included free of charge.
You can share the resulting images on a special Prisma feed, which works in a similar way to Instagram, save it to your device, send it via messaging or email, or share it on any social media app.
Even if you decide to keep the results to yourself, Prisma is great fun to experiment with, and the results are very impressive.
Download here: Prisma for Android
5. VSCO (free)
VSCO is like a more advanced version of Instagram, with a community feature that lets you follow other VSCO photographers. You can search for contacts and Facebook friends to follow, but since it’s a relatively niche app, you might not know many other users.
VSCO offers all the tools you’d expect from a high quality Android photo editing app, including exposure, contrast and temperature correction, as well as a very useful alignment tool for straightening horizons. There are also fade settings, and tools for skewing your image and adjusting tints.
The selection of mood filters isn’t huge, but the ones provided are very atmospheric, and are adjustable via a simple slider.
Once you’re done, you can share your image with VSCO’s community, send it straight to Facebook, or share it via any social networking or messaging app.
The only disadvantage is that you can’t simply download it to your device; instead you have to email it to yourself, or save it to a cloud storage service.
The first time you use VSCO, you’ll also be offered a seven-day trial of VSCO X, which includes various presets and tools that are normally only available for a subscription fee. Bear in mind that you'll be asked to enter payment details before starting the trial and you'll be charged automatically if you don't cancel before the period is up, so you might prefer to skip this and go straight to the free version.
Download here: VSCO for Android