Where can you find the best photo editing apps? Right here! Whatever type of software you're using, you want to use the best, and this is certainly true of photo editing. To help you find the ideal tool for whatever you have in mind, this guide to the best photo editing apps will point you in the right direction.
It does not matter whether you're using an iPhone, and iPhone or an Android handset, there are a huge number of apps available to you. On one hand is it great to have such a wide range to choose from, but on the other it can make it difficult to home in on the one that is right for you. But no matter what platform you're working with, we've done the hard work of tracking down the very best photo editing app for you.
Here we're looking at mobile apps, but you should also take a look at our guide to the best photos editors for desktop platform. If you are looking to keep costs down, you should also check out the best free photos editors guide.
Heading up our list of the best photo editing apps is Affinity Photo, but it is important to remember that everyone's needs are different. Someone looking for high-end photo editing options for professional purposes will have a very different view of the best photo editing apps than someone who is either just getting started with image work, or is taking a more casual approach.
Photo editing may be something that is most frequently and readily associated with desktop PCs and laptops, software developers are well-aware that mobile and tablets have become more important than ever. As such, even though this this guide to the best photo editing apps is focuses on mobile devices, you'll probably recognise plenty of names from which started life on the desktop before shrinking down and going mobile.
As well as looking at the options that are available for different platforms, in tracking down the best photo editing apps we have also taken into account the fact that people have varying budgets. You'll finds something to suit most pockets here.
So, whether you have a tablet or a phone, whether you're a beginner or an advanced user, whether you're on a small budget or money is no object, here are the best photo editing apps currently available. When you're finished editing your photos, you might also be interested in taking a look at our guide to the best video editing apps.
- These are the best photo editors for desktop computers right now
Best photo editing apps 2022:
Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
1. Affinity Photo (iPad)
Having presumably spotted a gap in the market, what with Adobe charging monthly for its pro-grade creative apps, Serif audaciously rocked up with the low-cost/high-quality Affinity Photo. Even more audaciously, this iPad app soon showed up — and had feature-parity with its desktop sibling.
In fact, minor interface tweaks for the touchscreen aside, it’s basically the same app. When using a suitably powerful iPad, you can blaze through complex photographic edits comprising multiple layers and apply effects in real-time.
Smartly, the app supports a wide range of formats. It’ll load, edit and save PSD. There’s a dedicated pre-processing workspace for raw files. You get a range of color space options, non-destructive masks and blend modes, and the means to save changes within a document, allowing you to revert them later.
This is impressive, desktop-grade stuff. The only downside is a learning curve if you’ve arrived from Photoshop. But once mastered, Affinity Photo is the best full-fat photo editor you can buy on mobile.
From the best photo editor you can buy to the best that's available for free. Snapseed was a one-time iPad indie darling that Google subsequently gobbled up. Fortunately, it remains in active development – now also for iPhone and Android.
For a free app, you get a surprisingly wide range of tools and an interface that rewards every level of user. Need to make the speediest of fixes? Open a JPEG or raw file, head to the Looks tab, select a filter, and export. Want to dig deeper? Check out Tools, where you’ll find everything from basic cropping and tuning to grunge filters and grain.
Unlike most free fare, Snapseed offers non-destructive editing. Prior changes can be individually turned off and on in the edit stack. Should you create a stack you’re particularly happy with, you can save it as a custom look and apply it to other photos with a single tap.
All these smarts perhaps still won’t tempt pros from their desktop apps, but as a freebie for on-the-move quick fixes, Snapseed is essential.
3. Pixelmator Photo (iPad)
We hear these days how entire careers will be eradicated by the rise of the machines. Pixelmator Photo seems to fancy itself as the first step to replacing photo editors.
Load a snap from your camera (raw is supported) and tap the ML (machine learning) button. Based on what the app’s gleaned from being trained on 20 million professional images, it’ll attempt to automatically fix your photo.
Does it always work? No. During testing, the odd sunset was ‘fixed’ to daylight, and some moody gig shots bathed in neon light were shifted to more ‘realistic’ colors. And yet, the button does frequently get things right.
Also, ML is a starting point, not a destination. Tap the tools button and a sidebar with sliders appears, giving you precise control over dozens of adjustments. Anything ML’s already affected will be labelled accordingly.
Throw in loads of presets, color replacement, a handful of creative tools (monochrome; grain; sepia), and edits being non-destructive and you’ve a massive bargain – and the best quick-fix photographic tool for iPad.
4. Adobe Lightroom
- Android (£free or from US$1.99/£1.79/AU$2.99 per month)
- iPhone/iPad (£free or from US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 per month)
Lightroom is a popular, powerful desktop app for cataloguing, managing, and editing a large collection of photos. On mobile for Android and iOS, the experience is cut down, but nonetheless provides a solid selection of tools – regardless of whether you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber.
For free, you get no-nonsense adjustments married to plenty of fine-grained control. A ‘Lens profile correction’ switch makes short work of correcting snaps shot with phones. Elsewhere, cropping and adjustment tools (light; color; effects; detail) are immediate but have enough depth to make subtle, considered changes to images. It all feels focused and refined.
If you’re fully immersed in the Adobe ecosystem, the app takes things further, with a smart perspective repair tool, selective adjustments and healing. The last of those is easily replaced by TouchRetouch on mobile, but the others are a great bonus in your pocket if you pay for Creative Cloud. And if not, Lightroom’s worth grabbing anyway, due to its mix of efficiency, class, smarts, and quality.
There’s a sense of urgency about Darkroom. Like Pixelmator Photo, it integrates directly with iCloud Photos – there’s no messing around importing snaps. Edits are stored within Darkroom and can be applied to cloud files in a non-destructive manner. But what’s most apparent is the fluidity with which everything happens.
Tap a photo and it opens instantly. Filters and adjustments are made with no discernible delay. Batch processing lets you apply edits and filters to several photos at once. And ‘Flag & Reject’ has you blaze through a bunch of photos, to quickly bin cruft and concentrate on the good stuff.
Although it lacks the machine-learning smarts of Pixelmator Photo’s standout feature, Darkroom comes packed with superb photographic filters and plenty of adjustment and transform options – the latter of which are particularly intuitive and beautifully designed. It also ably deals with a range of formats, including ProRAW, Live Photos and even video.
Notably, the app is in constant development too, with its creators regularly iterating and adding new features. As such, it feels like your investment is rewarded in an ongoing basis – a rarity these days, even in subscription-based software.
- Android (US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)
- iPhone/iPad (US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)
Early mobile photo editors were focused tools, but today’s increasingly mirror desktop-oriented and feature-loaded suites. TouchRetouch feels like a throwback to a time of one-trick-ponies — in a good way.
The app, available for Android and iOS, is about getting rid of unwanted objects. Got the perfect snap, if only it wasn’t for that annoying cable cutting it in two? Use the Line tool to remove it. Fuming at a blemish on a wall, or an object lurking on the ground that you’d not spotted while setting up a shot? Paint them out and have TouchRetouch weave its magic, or go properly old-school with a spot of manual cloning.
This kind of thing is far from unique on mobile – even freebie Snapseed has a healing tool. But in focusing on photo repair/healing, TouchRetouch is more impressive than its rivals on Android and iPhone, and gets you results that in many cases match or better those from pro-grade iPad fare — at least when you’re in a hurry. For the outlay, it’s essential.
- iPhone/iPad (US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 + IAP)
Many of the best photo apps tend to be about refinement – taking an existing image and fine-tuning adjustments, cleaning blemishes and realizing your vision of a flawless shot. Mextures has no truck with that – it wants to take your pristine creation and add all kinds of grime.
That might sound like grunge textures in Snapseed, but Mextures has a far more diverse selection of filters to work with. You get access to all kinds of dust, grain, color overlays, light leaks and bokeh. These can be applied as individual layers and combined/tweaked to suit, or you can save time by plumping for pre-existing ‘formulas’.
What makes Mextures a winner is its flexibility. You can stack dozens of layers, but revert a prior edit at any point. The iPad app could do with an update (it’s resolutely portrait and not optimized for iPad Pro), but otherwise Mextures is bliss for photo editors who occasionally favor character and grit over polished perfection.
8. Adobe Photoshop for iPad
- iPad (US$9.99/£9.99/AU$16.49 per month)
Having spent a long time insisting no-one wanted to do proper creative work on an iPad, Adobe finally relented and in November 2019 released a version of its desktop giant for Apple’s tablet. And we deliberately say ‘a version’, because this isn’t (yet) full Photoshop.
To Adobe’s credit, the foundation in Photoshop for iPad is there. The code base is shared with the desktop product, and there’s file compatibility. The interface feels familiar, despite having been optimized for a touchscreen/Apple Pencil experience.
But there’s an awful lot missing. Sure, you get core retouching and compositing features, and solid Pencil support. But every time you open a menu to find a ‘this feature isn’t supported on mobile’ label, or hunt for something that’s just not there, reality hits you in the face.
One for the future, then, unless you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber wanting to pick up edits on the move. Otherwise, the monthly outlay currently seems excessive when for two months of Photoshop you could have the more versatile and feature-rich Affinity Photo (above) forever.
Read our in-depth Photoshop for iPad review
- Android (US$19.99/£19.49/AU$32.99 per year)
- iPhone/iPad (£free or US$19.99/£19.49/AU$32.99 per year)
Get past the obnoxious ‘doorslam’ (this app really wants you to sign up), and ignore – initially – the subscription, and VSCO dumps you in a feed of people showing off their snaps. That’s nice, but you’re not here for another social network — you want to edit.
Import a pic and VSCO, on both Android and iOS, provides you with a bunch of tools that sit in a strip across the bottom of the display. You can crop/skew/adjust with ease, even if the mobile-friendly workflow isn’t quite as sleek and speedy as Snapseed’s. Still, changes made can be saved as a ‘recipe’ and applied to subsequent edits with a tap.
Most people don’t come to VSCO for the editing tools, though — that kind of thing can be done elsewhere; they come for the presets. Inspired by vintage film, these bring new character and life to even the most mundane of pics and are on the whole superb — although be mindful that for free, you only get a small taste of what’s on offer. To enjoy all 200+ presets, you’ll need to subscribe.
10. Photoshop Camera
- Android (£free)
- iPhone/iPad (£free)
Although once synonymous with the all-powerful desktop app, the Photoshop brand’s now slapped on a range of photo editing products. What ties them together is doing interesting things with photos. But although Photoshop Camera sits towards the ‘toy’ end of the editor spectrum, don’t dismiss it — because it’s a lot of fun.
Load a photo and you can crop it, prod a quick-fix button, or fine-tune adjustments like clarity, contrast and saturation. The meat of the app, though, is its lenses, which range from tasteful duotones to bizarre overlays (clouds; lollipops; dinosaurs).
Said lenses have a degree of flexibility – for example, adjusting detail levels, subject/background hues and graphics intensity in Pop Art. Your collection can be added to and pruned in-app, for free. Natch, there’s the camera bit, too, which applies your chosen filter live, should you prefer that.
Much of the app is gimmicky, and Android owners must contend with Adobe’s irritatingly scattergun approach to supporting that platform (check if your device is compatible here). But if you want to have fun messing with pics, it’s superb.
- These are the best free photo editors around right now
- Check out our guide to the best Android apps
- Or discover the best iPhone apps you can download right now
- These are the best iPad apps in the world
- Use your best snaps in a photo book or personalized photo gifts
- How AI animates your old family photos – and where it's going next
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.