The 30 best iPhone apps for designers

The best iPhone apps to speed up your workflow, help you make the right design choices, and more.

Despite some strong competition from free Android apps, the iPhone continues to be the main smartphone of choice for the design world. It's not just the best iPad apps that can be of practical use to designers; Apple's pocket-sized marvel can be a pretty handy design tool too. Combined with the best iPhone apps it can pack some real punch in the studio – and more importantly, out of it.

So whether you plan to do some sketching on the move, are after a particular tool to aid your daily design work, or prefer to take things more seriously with something to help you manage your projects, time and money, you don't have to know how to build an app – there's a great selection of must-have apps right here.

01. Assembly

  • Developer: Pixite
  • Price: Free with IAP

Coming on like a grown-up take on Fuzzy Felt, Assemblyis built to enable you to easily create beautiful vector imagery without having to master Illustrator's ways. Rather than painstakingly create your own vector shapes, in Assembly you have a selection of over 180 basic shapes that you can then fit together to make larger designs, either over a plain backdrop or on top of a background image. 

It's a building block approach to design that might sound a little simplistic, but it's been put together intelligently and with just enough tools to let you craft detailed images in minutes.

02. Exify

If this image gets your pulse racing, you need Exify

An app very much aimed at pro photographers, Exify is a bunch of tools rather than a camera or editor. Fire it up and you can quickly delve into the fine details behind your pics: lens info; image size; colour space; exposure. There are graphs for histograms, location and time details, and also a magnifier for getting up close and personal with every little detail of your iPhone snaps.

03. Paper

Best iPhone apps Paper

Paper is described as "the best way to capture and connect your notes"
  • Developer: FiftyThree, Inc
  • Price: Free

Capable of capturing and connecting your notes, photos and sketches, Paper is one the best iPhone apps out there for designers – acting like a digital wall of sticky notes for your phone. Thanks to unique swipe-to-style formatting, Paper lets users quickly create checklists and notes, as well as clarifying details in photos. With the original iPad app crowned Apple's App of the Year, this new version for iPhone is a completely free must-have for designers.

04. Adobe Illustrator Draw

Best iPhone apps Adobe Illustrator Draw

This app lets you create illustrations easily with intuitive touch controls
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: Free

Packed with all the power that designers have come to expect from Adobe, this app also includes all the popular drawing tools and features from Adobe Ideas. Filled with everything illustrators need to send layered and flat artwork, Adobe Illustrator Draw lets users draw with vectors, access high-res, royalty-free images, and sync assets to appear in your workflow wherever you need them.

05. Sketchworthy

Best iPhone apps Sketchworthy

Keep track of your notes, scribbles and photos with this app
  • Developer: Fishington Studios
  • Price: $2.99

Create a digital notebook on your phone with Sketchworthy. Taking advantage of new iOS 6 technology, this app lets users capture and save maps, web pages and photos, which become a page that can be drawn on just like a real journal. With an unprecedented level of customization, Sketchworthy is one of the best iPhone apps around, allowing you to annotate and share blueprints, graphs, to-do lists and more.

06. Font Candy

Best iPhone apps Font Candy

Step-up your photo game with this text masking app
  • Developer: Easy Tiger Apps
  • Price: Free

Create captions and overlay them onto photos with the typography app Font Candy. Choose from an array of hand-picked fonts to liven up your pictures and shoot snaps with a built in camera with timer, perfect for taking selfies. One of the most creative and best iPhone apps around for typography, images can be shared easily over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and other social networks.

07. Fuzel

  • Developer: Not A Basement Studio
  • Price: Free

Create cool photo collages for free with iPhone photography app Fuzel. With a wide variety of features and smooth UI, you can combine photos as well as add effects and write captions. The app imports images and cleverly places them so they fit within the chosen frame. You can then tap on any photo and realign, pinch to resize, add various filters as well as chose from different frames and borders.

08. FX Photo Studio

Best iPhone apps FX Photo Studio

  • Developer: MacPhun LLC
  • Price: Free

FX Photo Studio offers an impresssive amount of ways to edit and enhance images. There's hundreds of filters and high-quality effects to to work with, alongside a whole host of other features to help create beautiful photography. This a powerful image processing app for photographers of all skill levels.

09. Layers

Best iPhone apps Layers

Layers for iPhone has everything you need to be creative on the go

Built on the feedback of mobile artists, Layers is a natural media painting application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Featuring Photoshop compatibility, a selection of brushes, full colour, paint, erase and smudge tools and the ability to add five layers to your drawings, this nifty little app has everything you need to be creative on the go.

10. PicLab Studio

Best iPhone apps PicLab HD

Create inspiring images for the internet

PicLab Studio is a nifty app for creating those inspiring images that you get all over the internet these days. You know, the ones featuring a photo – probably with at least one retro filter applied – with a helpful aphorism layered over the top in an attractive, friendly typeface. PicLab HD makes them an absolute doddle, enabling you to either snap a photo or grab one from your photo library, then go to town on it.

  • Developer: Graveck
  • Price: $2.99/£2.29

11. Filmic Pro

Best iPhone apps Filmic Pro

Packed with features, is this the ultimate iPhone video camera?

FiLMiC Pro is, quite simply, the answer to the frustrations filmmakers have with Apple's default camera app. The most obvious and immediately useful features are the ability to set the focus and exposure separately, to lock them individually, and to lock the white balance. They're all vital for getting the tone and mood of what you're filming right, and FiLMiC knows that.

Video nuts will find wide-eyed glee in the ability to specify not only what resolution it films at, but also the framerate and, best of all, the bitrate, so you can record at quality far beyond the Apple defaults – great if you're filming lots of motion.

12. Path On

Best iphone apps Path On

Path On lets you add funky text to photos in unique ways
  • Developer: Peta Vision
  • Price: $1.99/£1.49

Path On lets you add funky text to photos in unique ways. You draw the path you'd like the words to take, then type in your message – the text then flows along the path.

The custom options are the real killer feature here, with you being able to adjust the font, the letter space, the alignment and much, much more. There's a good range of fonts, and playing around is fast and easy. The photo filters are best avoided, but sharing your photo is easy.

13. Repix

Best iphone apps Repix

Repix allows you to 'paint' filter effects onto images to create brilliant effects
  • Developer: Sumoing Ltd
  • Price: Free

The problem with filters in many photo editors is that you're required to apply it to the whole image, or spend an age creating precise selections. Repix attempts to overcome this by letting you 'paint' filter effects onto your images to create brilliant effects.

A choice of nine brushes run along the bottom of the screen; they range from artistic effects such as Posterize and Charcoal to more creative effects such as Halftone patterns and Ink splats. There's also an eraser and an 'undoer' brush.

14. Behance

Best iphone apps Behance

Big improvements have been made to the WIP feature
  • Developer: Behance
  • Price: Free

We're huge fans of online portfolio platform Behance at Creative Bloq, especially its super-slick iPhone app. So we were keen to check out the improvements made for the latest version, 2.25.

The main tweaks have been made to the 'Work in Progress' (WIP) feature, including new Flash controls added for the WIP Camera and image editing apps like Adobe Photoshop Touch can now push images into the Behance app as WIPs. Developers have also added a Pin functionality to the app, so you will now see a Pinterest button in the share menu.

15. Autodesk Sketchbook

Best iphone apps Sketchbook Pro

SketchBook Pro is one of the most popular iPad art apps with digital artists

SketchBook Pro by Autodesk is one of the most popular iPad art apps with you digital artists. The smaller screen version is a brilliant addition to any designer's iPhone app collection.

There's a wide range of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes to choose from, all accessed via a simple but intuitive UI that lets you pin toolbars to the screen for easy access. You can work with layers, transparency options, annotations, and advanced blend modes and with Dropbox integration - what more could you want?

Next page: 15 more iPhone apps for designers...