14 Photo Editing Apps Reviewed

I have been using Snapseed to edit photographs on my phone for a couple years now, without ever really trying anything different. It felt like a good time to try something new, so I decided to download some free photo editing apps to see if I could find one I like better than Snapseed. 

For the sake of comparison, I chose to manipulate the same two photos in each app. Here are the original two photos: 

Originals

PhotoCandy

OverView -This app is great for creating poster-like photographs with typography and geometric design elements. There are 8 sections of designs that can be added on top of your photos (Basic, Crops, Minimal, Shapes, Borders, Cute, Sayings, and Designer). Editing features include sharpness, contrast, brightness, exposure, fade, saturation, temperature, grain and vignette.

photocandy

PROS 

  • This app sets itself apart by allowing users to add a variety of pre-made designs, patterns, borders and sayings, to their photos.
  • The styling is very modern, geometric and symmetrical, with simple icon-like drawings, and well designed typographical saying also available.
  • Easy to use and navigate, well designed.

CONS

  • A watermark is added to photos unless you pay for the upgrade and a pop up ad for the upgrade comes up frequently.
  • Works better for landscape or urban photographs, not great for portraits as many of the designs block large portions of the photo.
  • The 26 free filters are sufficient, but nothing special.

Photoshop Mix

Overview – Photo editing tool with filters, adjustments, cropping all the stuff you need to customize your photos, but the best part is it allows you to combine images! Choose two images and cut out sections of the top photo to reveal the image beneath.

photoshopmix

PROS 

  • Lots of control and customization options including auto fix, exposure, contrast, clarity, and saturation.
  • Ability to enhance the entire image or just a portion of it.
  • Connects to Photoshop on your desktop through Creative Cloud.
  • The filters are good, could be more interesting, but still good.

CONS

  • Needs an option to add text or draw on the photos.
  • Cut out feature needs improvement, its easy to make mistakes with your fingers.
  • It would be better to be able to add more than two layers.

Fused

Overview – an app for combining two photos and videos together to create double exposure and blended images. I didn’t find it to be as easy to use as the photoshop app, but I think with some practice it could be a useful app. The app has seven free blend modes which are like filters but across two photos. Contrast, exposure and brightness can also be adjusted. Masking feature allows you to remove parts of the top photograph to reveal the one beneath. Masking brush includes both a hard and feathered edge.

fused

PROS 

  • Edit photos or videos together. Looks great when filling a silhouette with an image.
  • Adjustments can be made to each layer individually.

CONS 

  • The masking brush needs some work, it is a large red dot with a zoomed in circle of the image around it that makes it hard to see what you are doing. I couldn’t quite get the effect that I wanted even though I could tell that it would be possible.
  • Limited number of free blending options.

Pic Arts

Overview – This is my favorite of all the apps I tested. A one stop shop for all things photo editing. Plenty of filters organized by type. The ability to crop you photos into a shape which is unique. The ability to add text, with plenty of fonts to choose from. Can add shapes and clip art! Borders and fun distort features. There’s a section called Masks which lets you add lots of different types of light effects and textures, things like bokehs and grungy borders and a whole section of lens flares. This app even has it’s own social network complete with voting, liking, commenting and contests.

picarts

PROS

  • The options in this app just go on and on, I’m really surprised it’s free.
  • This one is definitely a keeper, great for when you want to get artistic or silly with your pictures. There’s not much you couldn’t do with it.

CONS

  • A stylus pencil and using the iPad would certainly give you more freedom and options, but aren’t necessary.

Layrs

Overview – This app’s specialty is in being able to edit different parts of the photograph individually by using masks and layers. You can select sections of the photo with your finger then add filters or customize just that section. It also allows you to combine multiple photos in the same way.

layrs

PROS

  • A very nice app, similar to, but easier to use than Fused with more options.
  • Plenty of custom edits like exposure, contrast, hue, saturation, and temperature.
  • Can layer and individually edit more than two images.

CONS

  • Masking can be tricky, often grabs areas of the picture you don’t want.

Ultrapop

Overview- Graphic design based photo editing app which is inspired by the 1980s, vaporware aesthetics, and pop art. There are 8 filters and the ability to add either a square, circle or triangle onto your photo with either that shape filtered or the background filtered. There are a few different price points for buying more filters from $0.99 for 6 more – $3.99 for 34 more.

ultrapop

PROS 

  • The filters are well made and interesting. The style is unique.
  • Filters can be layered in any combination and amount.
  • The app is easy to use and well designed.

CONS 

  • Limited number of filters, with extras at a cost, but no option to test them out first.
  • Any costume editing, cropping, etc of your photos would need to be done on another app first.


Photo daddy 

Overview – Photo editing app that allows you to superimpose, decorate, add text, and draw on your photos. There are simple shapes and borders, and even some clip art options. This app has some nice features, it’s similar to PicArts, but not quite as good in my opinion.

photodaddy

PROS

  • You can scroll through all the filters already applied to your photo, instead of having to load each filter individually.
  • You can also combine the more standard filters with light flares.

CONS

  • Constantly trying to get you to upgrade and pay for more features. If you want to pay for all the extra and get rid of the ads it would be much nicer to use.
  • This app relies heavily on symbols that are not intuitive. I never knew what feature I was using until I pressed on it.
  • The dreaded watermark is placed on your photos unless you pay for an upgrade.

Repix

Overview – Photo editing app with filters, the ability to make adjustments like contrast, brightness, vibrancy, temperature and vignette. There are borders and cropping too, but by far the coolest thing is a little extra brush section that lets you draw things on the picture like rain drops, paint drips and light flares! 11 free brushes total with another 23 for sale.

repix

PROS

  • This is definitely a well made app, lots of fun to play with and you can get very artistic with your photos.
  • There are extra brushes for sale which you can try out before buying.
  • The light brushes are really great with things like a Sparkler and a star brush.

CONS

  • Would love to see even more options for filters and brushes.

Glaze

Overview – Turn your photos into paintings. There are about 34 different free filter options and more if you want to pay for them. Some of the filters are quite interesting with a lot of depth, while others feel repetitive. I was impressed with how similar some filters look to a painting.

glaze

PROS

  • Very entertaining, and easy way to make your photos look like paintings.
  • If you purchase the app, there are additional filters and the ability to create masks, which allow you to save images with transparent backgrounds and combine with other apps.
  • Ability to save at high resolutions for prints.

CONS

  • It’s not an app I could see using a whole lot, how often do you really want your photos to look like paintings.
  • Any editing of the actual photo like cropping or saturation would need to be done in a different app before using this one as it doesn’t include such features.

Fotocam Paint

Overview – if you want to make your photos look like watercolor paintings this is the app you’ll want, otherwise there’s not much else to do.

A portrait and a floral picture digitally manipulated using the fotocam paint app.

PROS

  • Very simple and easy to use, creates beautiful watercolors out of photographs. The filters are well done, and worked beautifully on both my portrait picture and flowers.

CONS

  • There’s no customization, so all you can do is pick from the available options. Not a keeper for me as it feels a little like cheating. I will remember it though, if the occasion ever arises where I need a picture to have this effect and I’m too lazy to do it myself.

Color Effects

Overview – Color effects allows you to color portions of your photos leaving the rest in black and white. When you import the photo the app changes it to grey then you repaint the color of your photo back in. You can use your finger to reveal the original color of the photo or switch to grey scale to correct areas you may have over painted.

coloreffects

PROS 

  • Very simple app with a specific purpose.
  • There is an option to recolor photos if you want to pay for it.

CONS 

  • Using a stylus would make this app easier to use, would work better on an iPad than an iPhone.
  • Fun but frustrating, my fingers caused the colors to bleed.

Photo Sketch Splash

Overview – A very simple app with the purpose of turning your photos into drawings and paintings. There are 20 available filters without paying, with the option to buy more for $1.99.

photosketchsplash

PROS 

  • I am quite impressed with how much like a drawing some of the filters are.
  • Decent painting filters too, but not as good as the Glaze app.

CONS 

  • Occasionally makes you watch an add.
  • No adjustment sliders for contrast or line width on the filters.


CPE – Color Photo Edit

Overview – A photo editing app which includes 60+ color filters, a layer tool, text tool and the ability to custom contrast, brightness, shadow highlights, and exposure.

cpe

PROS

  • This app’s strength is in the shear number of filters and options.
  • Ability to layer filters, which could yield some interesting results.
  • Pleanty of fonts with the option to change the font color and size.

CONS 

  • Lots of ads, one on the screen at all times.
  • Not the best user experience, lacking in design.
  • While there are lots of filters, many of them are low quality and do not enhance your photographs.

Impressia

Overview – a filter centric photo app geared toward teens and tweens. Choose a filter, a border, a prewritten phrase, even doodles and add to your photo. 

impressia

PROS

  • The borders are pretty, and very feminine. The fonts are playful, there are lots of pink options.
  • Adjustable effects like beautify, sharpen, blur, vignette, exposure, hue, saturation, temperature, contrast, emboss, noise, highlight, and shadow.
  • You don’t even have to use photos with this app, there are background options to which you can add the available borders and phrases.

CONS 

  • Some of the prewritten phrases which can added to photos were purposely misspelled (Hapiness – no thank you).
  • Items you have to pay for are mixed with free ones, which is annoying as I accidentally hit them all the time.

Overall, Pic Arts was the clear winner for me, although I will be keeping the Repix app for adding artistic details as well.  It was a lot of fun testing out all these different apps, and seeing what crazy things I could come up with using the same pictures over and over. What started out as a practical experiment turned into a creative challenge.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Lindi

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