As camera phones become more and more advanced and platforms like Instagram provide large audiences, smartphone photography has become a sought-after skill and the foundation for some people’s careers.
However, smartphone cameras are only half the story. To really make your photos stand out, you can’t just rely on Instagram filters and you have to use the right photo editing app. You can also use Android apps to turn your photos into fun videos. Unlike on PC, finding quality photo editing apps on Android for free is very easy. In fact, there are so many apps on the market that you might not be sure which one to choose.
So what are the best Android photo editing apps? And what competition does it face on the Play Store? Here are our favorite photo editing apps, along with some well-known names that excel in their own way.
Best Photo Editing App: Snapseed
While some might expect a photo editing veteran like Adobe Photoshop to top the list of photo editing apps, the award belongs to Snapseed. This app is my go-to photo editor. What’s more, when I asked some of my fellow tech journalists what their favorite Android photo editing app was, the answer was Snapseed consistently.
Snapseed isn’t just slapping a filter on an image. In fact, the filters are the least impressive aspect of the app. Instead, its strength lies in the ability for users to enhance their images using brushes and spot editing. This means that you can specify exactly where you want the contrast to be increased or which parts of the image you want to desaturate.
To see how much of a difference Snapseed can make for photos, you just have to take a look at the images I edited using the app.
Not only are the tools advanced, but they are easy to solve and use. With all this going for it, it’s also ad-free and ad-free, which only increases the appeal in our books.
Other apps have steep learning curves or worse, they are loaded with ads and paid space. But Snapseed manages to be easy to use, very powerful, and completely free.
Download: Snapseed (Free)
But surely Snapseed can’t be the all-and-all Android photo editing app? Well, despite being the best overall, there are a few apps that stand out in other aspects. It includes filters, quick fixes, and other advanced functions.
Best Filters: Adobe Photoshop Express
While Adobe Photoshop Express is definitely a contender for the title of the best Android photo editing app, its lack of spot and brush editing means that it lacks the nuanced editing that many photographers need. However, the app definitely excels when it comes to its photo filters.
While most photo editing apps have filters as a side thought, repeating the same filters as seen in various other apps, Photoshop Express seems to take filters seriously. This is because it not only gives you the color presets you normally see in photo editing apps, but it also has some unique approaches like the Duo Tone filter (turns the image into two color tones) and a plethora of B&W filters.
It also comes with various other features that enhance this aspect of the app. For people who don’t use Snapseed, Photoshop Express can be a good alternative. It also comes with a collage feature which saves you the effort of having to download a separate collage app.
The main drawback is that there are several different official Photoshop apps on the Google Play Store, such as Photoshop Mix and Photoshop Sketch. This means that certain features come with certain apps, instead of having one comprehensive app with all the features.
Download: Adobe Photoshop Express (Free)
Best for Experienced Users: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
While Photoshop Express, as the name implies, caters more for users who want a faster and easier editing experience, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is the best choice for users with photo editing experience.
Someone who has only ever used Instagram filters will find this app a little scary. But if you’re used to adjusting the level of tone curves, lighting, and other nuanced features this could be the perfect photo editing app for you.
Rather than focusing on filters, Lightroom has presets available that emphasize certain aspects of your image (e.g., high contrast, high clarity, etc.). You can also edit the usual settings in your photos, such as saturation and brightness.
However, there are some additional edits you can use that you don’t often see in other Android photo editing apps. This includes adjusting the exposure for specific colors in your image and changing the white balance of the photo.
This gives experienced users the control they want, while still maintaining the ease of use that comes with smartphone apps. But for a novice photo editor, this isn’t the kind of experience you want to start with.
Aside from the learning curve (which it works for), the app’s main limitation is that certain features, such as selective editing, are locked behind a paywall.
Download: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Free)
Best For Quick Fix: Google Photos
Google Photos is a mainstay for Android users for several reasons: it often comes pre-installed, automatically backs up your photos to the cloud, and has some great native editing tools. While Photos isn’t the kind of app you should use if you’re trying to turn a photo from a complete photo into something pretty, it’s perfect for a quick fix that makes an image more interesting.
In fact, using the Pop slider can usually give your images some extra vitality and boldness. Thanks to Google Photos Assistant, the app also automatically generates stylish photos, collages, and GIFs for you. If you like what the assistant makes, you can save it in your gallery.
In terms of editing, you use deeper functionality and customize various features of your images. However, you won’t get the exact type of editing you see in apps like Snapseed or Photoshop. But when it comes to quickly adjusting images and doing a great job, Google Photos can take just a minute to transform your images.
Download: Google Photos (Free)
Most Fun: Photo Lab
Instead of focusing on professional-level photo editing, Photo Lab is for those who want to have fun with their photos. This app can apply artistic filters that do much more than just add hues or contrast variations. On the other hand, these filters can turn an image into a completely different art style. Say hello to your new profile picture.
However, the fun really does come with the app’s various selfie overlays and filters. With facial recognition, the app will collect all the photos in your gallery that include faces. You just need to select the filter you want to apply based on the stock preview. Then select the photo you want to use.
Rather than just a few dog ears or a pair of whiskers, Photo Lab’s filters go much deeper — which is why they’re so entertaining to use. In short sessions with the app, I was able to turn myself into an undead, a Jedi, Daenerys Targaryen, a woman with stellar hair, Pennywise the clown, and various other ridiculous characters.
Despite the incredible level of silliness, Photo Lab also has a more serious side to those who want artistic images rather than funny ones. It has a variety of photographic effect filters, such as double exposure and thermal imaging.
The main drawback of this app is the ads. When you process an image, you will usually see an ad appear. You can avoid this via in-app purchases. If you use the free version, this app also adds a watermark to your images. You can remove this watermark by upgrading or watching ads.
If you don’t mind the occasional ad, this app proves to be a lot of fun.
Download: Photo Lab (Free with in-app purchases)
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