Phones and tablets can take fantastic pictures and, with a little bit of enhancement from a specialized photo editing app, they can become simply stunning.
There's a huge variety of photo editing apps available for both Android and iOS, which means it can be difficult to figure out which one to choose.
That's why we've collected together the very best photo editing apps for both mobile operating systems and put them to the test. Whether you're looking for a tool that's the mobile equivalent of Photoshop to carry around in your pocket, or you just want a straightforward way to enhance selfies before sharing them on Facebook, we've found something just for you.
The best photo editing apps for Android
1. Google Snapseed (free)
Google Snapseed is a wonderful app that packs in more features than many desktop photo editors.
On top of the usual cropping and rotation tools, it also includes settings that allow you to adjust 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 noteworthy options is Expand, which extrapolates what the area surrounding the subject might look like and uses this data to make the canvas larger – kind of similar to Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill. It works best on images shot against a mostly plain or abstract background.
Snapseed is also useful for selfies and other portrait photos. It has a handy 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.
But, that’s not all, Snapseed also comes with a great selection of filters, each of which is fully customizable. If it all sounds a bit overwhelming, 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)
Adobe Photoshop Express contains a selection of Adobe's best photo editing tools together in a streamlined app that's easy to navigate even on a tiny touchscreen.
Before you can get started, however, 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. Or, if you already have an Adobe ID, of course, you can just use that here.
Once that's done, you can choose a photo to edit from your mobile device, take a new photo with its camera or even select an image from the Adobe Creative Cloud. This is a particularly handy way to manage your workflow and makes all your pictures available on any device.
The app, of course, includes all the basic editing tools you'd expect, including crop, rotate, brightness adjustment and red-eye correction. What sets it apart from the pack however, is its selection of smart filters designed to correct common issues, including color temperature, fogging and exposure problems. There's also a wide 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 selfie addict and you don’t have any reservations about bending the truth a little bit, Facetune is your new best friend.
This sneaky photo editing app lets you blur imperfections, adjust colors, whiten teeth and even completely 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 altogether with the back arrow), then apply the effect directly to the photo using your finger.
It’s best used moderately – 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 seriously gone overboard, 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 and then either share it on social media or save it to your device.
Download here: Facetune for Android
4. Prisma (free)
You may be understandably skeptical about apps that claim to replicate artistic styles, and it makes sense – the ‘drawing’ and ‘painting’ filters included in many photo editors are downright terrible. Prisma is the exception though 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 your creations 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 play around with, and the results are very impressive.
Download here: Prisma for Android
5. VSCO (free)
VSCO is kind of like a more advanced version of Instagram, it has 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 of the tools that 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 ambient 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 save 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