The best free and paid photo editing apps for iPhone and Android

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Edited in Bazaart.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

With phones like that iPhone 13 pro, Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra With cameras that rival DSLRs, it’s no wonder we take so many photos using just our phones. But when we come back from our day trip to the mountains or our walk around town, it’s easy to forget the pictures we took that day and let them gather dust in our phone galleries.

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Creative photo editing can be a great way to get more out of your photography. And it doesn’t matter if you have the latest, greatest phone with the best camera setup on the back, or an older, cheaper phone. The iPhone App Store and Google Play Store for Android are packed with great free and paid photo editing apps that can give your existing shots a whole new look, all from the comfort of your favorite comfy chair.

I’ve put together a selection of my top picks, so read on, grab a cup of tea, and settle in for an evening editorial session. You can even Turn your favorite shots into a photo book.

You can also check out these creatives Ideas to flex your photographic muscles at home when you want to record and edit something new.

snapseed edit app

Edited in Snapseed.

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1. Snapseed

Free on iOS and Android.

Google’s own Snapseed offers a wide range of exposure and color tools to tweak your images, but also comes with plenty of filter options, from vintage styles to modern, punchy HDR looks. You can overlay the effects to create some interesting edits on your image. And best of all, it’s completely free.

Lightroom editing app

Edited in Lightroom Mobile.

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2.Adobe Lightroom

iOS and Android, some features for free or $5 per month for full access.

Adobe Lightroom remains an industry standard for professional photographers, and the mobile version is largely the same. You won’t find any stickers, animations, or emojis here, but you do get fine-grained control over your image and the same tools you’d find in Lightroom on desktop. It’s the app I use most to edit my own pictures on my iPhone and iPad, not least because the pictures sync on the cloud so I can start on one device and continue on another.

photoshop express edit app

Edited in Photoshop Express.

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3.Adobe Photoshop Express

Free on iOS and Android.

Photoshop Express has many of the same features as Lightroom, including exposure, contrast, and color editing options, but removes some of the pro tools and cloud syncing, and most importantly, saves on the subscription fee. It’s a great tool for tweaking your images to look their best, but you’ll also find a decent selection of filters and overlay textures, as well as tools for creating cool collages from your images.

It’s not as open to wild creativity as other options on this list, but it’s a solid editing app at a price that’s hard to argue with.

prism edit app

Edited in Prisma.

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4. Prism

iOS and Android, $8 per month or $30 per year.

Prisma doesn’t deal with subtle filters and basic image corrections. Instead, its trippy filters transform your images into often bizarre artistic creations. The results look painterly and in fact many filters are inspired by artists such as Salvador Dali and Picasso. The filters are powerful, and while you can tweak them, not every filter will work with every image. I found some to be better suited to portraits, while other filters worked best with landscapes.

But it’s great fun to experiment with, and when you find a photo that works, it works Yes, really is working.

bazaart edit app

Edited in Bazaart.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

5. Bazaar

iOS only, $8 per month or $48 per year.

Bazaart’s montage and collage tools allow you to combine several different elements – from photos to text to graphics – and layer them all on top of each other to create a finished work of art. It has tools to instantly erase the background behind a portrait subject (I was amazed how well it worked!), insert a new background, or layer multiple effects. It also has a wide range of templates to create beautiful collages for Instagram stories.

There are so many different ways you can try to piece different images together that the only limit is how creative you feel. Visit Bazaart’s Instagram page for inspiration.

photofox edit app

Edited in Photofox.

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6. Photofox

iOS only.

Like Bazaart, Photofox has powerful background removal tools that you can use to insert new backgrounds or apply awesome effects. I particularly like Photofox’s dispersion effect, which makes it look like your subject is breaking up into particles (trust me, it’s cool), as well as the glitch effects and double exposure, which superimposes two images.

As with Bazaart, there are endless possibilities what you can do by overlaying and compositing different types of images and applying different effects to each.

vsco edit app

Edited in VSCO.

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7.VSCO

iOS and Android, limited features free, or $20 per year with a seven-day free trial.

VSCO began by creating color grading presets for Lightroom, and its roots are evident in the app today. Rather than offering stickers and animated GIFs for Snapchat enthusiasts, VSCO is all about the more artful cinematic color filters. The app has a wide variety of presets, including looks that emulate classic film rolls from Fujifilm, Kodak, and Ilford.

It also has a large selection of black and white filters, making it a great choice to experiment with if you’re into your moody monochrome shots.

picsart-edit-app.png

Edited in PicArt.

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8. PicArt

iOS and Android, limited features free or $48 per year for the entire suite.

PicsArt gives you a wide range of editing tools, from basic adjustments like exposure and contrast to cinematic color corrections and dramatic filters that transform your images into painting-like works of art. There are many options for the tone and shape of your face in selfies — I won’t go into the ethics of using these tools for “beauty” purposes, but I’ve had fun using the tools to intentionally transform my facial features into bizarre ones proportions.

There’s also an entire Instagram-style social sharing element for PicsArt if that’s what you’re interested in. Personally, I was particularly interested in the editing options.

Be sure to stop by My guide to creative photo projects at home, see ours whole catalog with great tips and tricks for better cell phone photos.

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