Adobe Photoshop Express (2024) review

A simplified Photoshop app, for when you’re on the go

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet
(Image: © Adobe)

TechRadar Verdict

Adobe Photoshop Express works very well. The designers managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into a well implemented application. There are some tools which should not have been omitted though which could’ve simplified some workflows, but on the whole, it’s fun and easy to use, and you can always fine tune the results when you get home with Photoshop on your computer.


  • +

    A free option

  • +

    Well designed interface

  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Some powerful features


  • -

    Best tools are paywalled

  • -

    No edge-aware brushes

  • -

    No curves

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There’s no denying that when it comes to the best photo editors, Adobe Photoshop sets the industry-standard. The image editing software is so ubiquitous, the name has even become a common noun. 

But Photoshop is a huge beast of a program for desktop computers. How can it be squeezed into a mobile device? Well it can, for iPads, but you can’t run that on a phone or Android device. However, by paring it down to a few cool essential features you can: enter Photoshop Express. 

Adobe Photoshop Express: Pricing & plans

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Photoshop Express can automatically detect objects and background, while allowing you to customise the selection - shame the lack of fine tune brushes can hamper this work  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A free download is great, but the best tools are hidden behind a paywall. Still, there are numerous ways to unlock all the features, and if you subscribe to an Adobe plan that includes Photoshop, you already have Express as part of the deal. 

Photoshop Express is a free download from the App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store (no joy for Mac users, sadly). You’ll have a number of tools available to use as soon as you launch the app for the first time, but as you may expect, some premium features need to be paid for. 

If you already subscribe to one of Adobe’s packages which includes the full version of Photoshop, you’ll get access to all of Photoshop Express’ features. Prices for such plans vary widely, depending on the contract you choose, and if you're an individual, in education, or a business, but to give you an idea, an individual on a one-year contract would expect to pay $20 a month for the photography package (which includes Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Express) - a much better deal than the $23 a month for Photoshop and Photoshop Express on their own. Alternatively, you could opt for $60 monthly for the 'All Apps' package (which comes with over 20 professional software packages, including Photoshop Express). 

But if none of that appeals, Photoshop Express has a standalone subscription for $5 a month or $35 a year. 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Interface & experience

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Scroll through your projects, images, and templates, all from an easy to use interface  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A very simple and streamlined interface, with numerous simplified tools at your disposal. All very easy to use, but marred by a few features that should’ve been included. 

Adobe Photoshop Express is designed to work on tablets and phones, so is ideal for editing on the go. The interface works in either orientation on a tablet, but phones appear to be restricted to portrait. 

As with any other image editing app, you can grant it access to your entire image library, or restrict it to only a chosen few (a list which can be amended at any time). You’re also able to connect to your Google Photos, DropBox and Facebook accounts, but not your iCloud files. If you work with Lightroom, you can access its online library from within Photoshop Express, and the same goes for your Creative Cloud libraries (should you have any). 

If you wish to explore and use other people’s photography, you can browse through a ‘Free Library’. Photoshop Express can Las gain access to your camera. This is not just for convenience, as the interface includes a series of interesting filters you cannot find on your device’s default camera app, such as Artful, Blue Skies and Pop Art, with each filter having a few swappable options to choose from. 

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

The adjustment tools are greatly simplified, but work as expected, even if there are some omissions, such as curves  (Image credit: Adobe)

The interface itself is pared down, and easy to understand; this is a simplified version of Photoshop after all. You scroll down through your projects, photos, tutorials and templates, choose what you want to start with, and away you go.

When it comes to working on a project, most tools can be found at the bottom of the interface, with a few others located to the side. For instance the layers are found on the right. Tap on whatever you need to bring up various options, along with a slider to determine the intensity of your chosen effect.

It’s all very simple and there are even some interesting ‘smart’ tools, where internal algorithms determine what to automatically select. This works well for the Cutout and Masking tools, but as always they’re not always perfect. Thankfully you’re able to make adjustments.

There are some drawbacks though: surprisingly, the brushes lack edge detection, something that has been part and parcel of Adobe’s other offerings for some time, and would greatly improve any fine tuning you’d care to make. The lack of curves for colour correction is also disappointing, as is the lack of a refine brush. But as it’s a simplified version of Photoshop, perhaps this is something we should accept and work with.

  • Interface & experience: 3.5/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Tools

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

You can access your camera directly from within Photoshop Express, and take advantage of a series of unique filters  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Some features are truly impressive, such as the masking and cutout tools, as well as Face Retouch, which is incredibly well implemented.  

As mentioned, there are no curves, so when it’s time to make some image adjustments, you’re offered a selection of tools represented by a thumbnail of the image you’re working with, with the effect applied to it. It’s not often easy to see what the change is, so thankfully each adjustment comes with a name. This is all fine, relatively basic and simple to use, but these adjustments have a clever trick up their sleeve: the ability to select a specific part of your photo, through automatic or manual masks, letting you apply changes to only a chosen section. Multiple objects are found automatically for you, but if you’re not happy with what's on offer, you’re free to create additional masks, and refine existing ones, with the understanding your level of precision will be limited. 

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

The Face Retouch tools are impressively powerful, yet incredibly easy to use  (Image credit: Adobe)

Perhaps the most impressive feature is Face Retouch. The algorithm will automatically find a face in your photo and reveal what you can alter, including, lips, nose, eyes, contour, etc. Each offers a number of sub-categories, with a slider to apply it to your image. It’s simple, enabling you to make some pretty substantial changes, and the results are most impressive, if somewhat uncanny.

Perhaps best of all, you can continue working on your projects when you get back to your computer - as long as your devices are logged in to the same Adobe ID, and you’ve got a subscription of Photoshop of course.

Despite its limitations Photoshop Express does allow you to create fairly complex projects, like being able to combine photos, create collages, add text layers, and more. If you’re looking for a simple image compositor, that has some impressive functions. Despite lacking in certain areas, it could be worth taking a look, and maybe even opting for the premium features.

  • Tools: 4/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Scorecard

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1 Row 0 - Cell 2
Pricing & plansFree tools, but the best ones require a subscription4
Interface & experienceSimple and easy to use but missing core tools3.5
ToolsExcellent range of tools that work brilliantly4.5

Should I buy?

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Performing collages, mixing and matching parts of an image onto another, adding text, it’s all in a day’s work with Photoshop Express  (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need to apply more image editing than the default apps on your mobile device allow, and don’t mind subscribing to a product to gain access to some premium features.

Don't buy it if...

You feel constrained by some of the missing features, you’re not a fan of an app that hides its best features behind a paywall, or you prefer working on a ‘proper’ computer when editing your images. 

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Steve Paris

Steve has been writing about technology since 2003. Starting with Digital Creative Arts, he's since added his tech expertise at titles such as iCreate, MacFormat, MacWorld, MacLife, and TechRadar. His focus is on the creative arts, like website builders, image manipulation, and filmmaking software, but he hasn’t shied away from more business-oriented software either. He uses many of the apps he writes about in his personal and professional life. Steve loves how computers have enabled everyone to delve into creative possibilities, and is always delighted to share his knowledge, expertise, and experience with readers.