Most folks who love smartphone photography know that pressing the shutter is only half the effort. The rest comes from manipulation, and only the best editing apps will suffice. We’ve put together a list that should cover just about every editing requirement you might have, ranging from the hardcore granular stuff to the fun and silly.
FOR PROFESSIONAL -LIKE CONTROLS
Perfect any photo fast using tools and filters
To summarise the experience of using Google-owned Snapseed, it’s like having pro camera controls applying to already-taken photos. The 29 tools and filters include a wide range of manipulation techniques, including basic functions such as cropping and brightness tuning, alongside advanced features like spot healing and lens blur. Snapseed doesn’t gate any of their tools behind a paywall, which is key in what makes it so popular among both enthusiasts and serious photographers. The latest version saw plenty of bug fixes and support for phones with Dark Mode.
Tune any effect with precision
Pro-level editing tools. eg. Curves, white balance and raw editing
While VSCO comes with social sharing features and its own social network, it is better known for its expressive filters and detailed photo-editing software. It was the precursor editing app that helped mediocre photographers become photo-taking prodigies. VSCO offers granularity over basic controls like Tone, Brightness, Contrast, and more. Today, the app comes with a free basic version that keeps almost all of its original editing suite, with an option to subscribe for a US$30 annual membership to unlock video editing and other more advanced features.
Exposure and curves controls
ADOBE LIGHTROOM PHOTO EDITOR
There’s no way we can talk about professionallike photo editing without mentioning Adobe’s mobile version of Lightroom. The photo editing app adopts an easy-to-understand, step-by-step interface so you’ll never miss any aspect of photo manipulation. It hosts plenty of basic and advanced editing features like ‘removing’ chromatic aberration and applying lens correction. The healing brush is a premium feature that costs US$7 a month to unlock, but you could always combine Lightroom with any of the professional-like photo editing apps above to get a full suite of free options.
FOR SELFIES TO RIVAL COSMETIC SURGERY
As a free-to-use, all-in-one selfie editing app, Facetune2 should be your first stop for selfies before adding on other filters. The app offers extremely detailed retouching tools for just about every existing facial feature, starting from your smile to the fullness of your lips. That’s even before you start removing the odd zit or begin applying face smoothening techniques. If you edit selfies for a living, you can consider unlocking its advanced features, like adding Contact Lenses with an effect or adding Studio Lighting for a yearly subscription of US$49 (or a one-time payment of US$99).
Face feature tune
Swipe away blemishes
Ulike is a selfie editing app created by ByteDance, the same company that owns TikTok. The selfie-editing app adheres to East Asian beautification standards, with a wide variety of editing tools for face shape, skin tones, and even the slant that shapes our eyes. The edits look amazingly natural, even though all of the controls are manually operated. There’s the option to pay for automatic overall enhancement at a press of a single press of a button, for approximately US$21 a year.
Beautification tools for face shape, skin tones & eye contours
Flawless skin control
All-in-one integrated photo & video editing app for mainly selfies
SNOW, in a nutshell, is a photo-editing app that incorporates all the basic editing tools to benefit its core feature - beautification. After you’re done reshaping, contouring, and adding on digital makeup to great detail, the menu guides you through all other basic tools that focus more on composition (cropping), personalisation (borders), and filters, before you start adding effects and stickers. In a way, it’s an all-in-one, integrated photo-editing app primarily for selfies. The app is entirely free to use, with every feature (including its makeup adjustments) being accessible right from the get-go.
Creative almighty editing tools
FOR SOME ADDED SPARKLE IN YOUR LIFE
ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CAMERA
Given the reputation of Photoshop’s desktop version, you’d be forgiven if you thought the app as an equal for photo editing. Adobe’s Photoshop Camera is more of a filter applicator, where it allows the user to channel their inner Andy Warhol through a wide range of psychedelic filters. We can’t deny how show-stealing the app can be with its 80 eye-catching filters that throw subtlety out of the window. According to Adobe, it uses AI-powered editing to apply the filters correctly, so there are very little adjustments needed beyond picking your favourite look. Also, being Adobe, they’ve got the chops to create filters with celebrities, so there’s some star power behind their filters instead of just the average Joe.
Special effects with psychedelic filters
Selfie-and-filter editing app with stickers & sparkles effects
B612 might be marketed as a selfie-and-filter editing app, but its impressive array of stickers, sparkles, and effects is what makes the app the de-facto choice in social media content creation. It gamifies both photo and video selfies with thousands of stickers and filters. There are dozens of templates for face-first short videos with minigames, and it casually throws in a beautification editor in the mix. This is the app to get if you want to step up your TikTok or IG video-making game.
A social media content creator that gamifies both photo & video selfies
Moving away from the hyper realistic AR- and AI-powered effects is 1998 Cam, a great retro filter app for folks who want a quaint, nostalgic look on their resulting photos. The retro aesthetic is dominant enough to fool viewers, thanks to the natural-looking light leaks and other minor touches each filter delivers. What makes this app better than other retro editing apps? 1998 Cam’s is far more comprehensive, with more than 100 filters dedicated to this vibe with varying appearances, moods, and effects. You can get a pro version with more filters and effects via a one-time payment of US$59, or at US$27 per year.
Retro filter app for a quaint & nostalgic look
PICTURES SNAPSEED, VSCO, ADOBE, FACETUNE, ULIKE, SNOW, B612, 1998 CAM