The 26 best iPhone apps for designers

Despite some strong competition, the iPhone continues to be the main smartphone of choice for the design world. Apple's pocket-sized marvel can be a pretty handy design tool. 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, there's a great selection of must-have apps right here.

01. Assembly

  • Developer: Pixite
  • Price: Free with IAP

Coming off like a grown-up take on Fuzzy Felt, Assembly earns its place in the best iPhone apps list by enabling user to easily create beautiful vector imagery without having to master Illustrator's tricksy ways. Rather than painstakingly creating your own vector shapes, you can dive into Assembly's library 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 enable you to craft detailed images in minutes – perfect for creating designs when you're on the move.

02. PANTONE Studio

Best iPhone apps MyPantone

Use this to match hues from photos, generate harmonious colour palettes and then share them
  • Developer: Pantone
  • Price: Free

This official app from the undisputed kings of colour acts as a digital swatch book, including over 13,000 colours from the Pantone Plus Series and beyond. You can use it to match hues from photos, generate harmonious colour palettes and then share them, or sync them with your design software programs of choice.

03. Paper

  • Developer: FiftyThree
  • 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. 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, Font Candy also lets you share your work over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

06. Exify

If this image gets your pulse racing, you need Exify

One of the best iPhone apps for 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.

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, 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. Draw Pad Pro

An intuitive way to take notes
  • Developer: Fishington Studios
  • Price: £2.99

Nearly 3 million people use Draw Pad Pro for their note-taking. Created by Fishington Studios, the iPhone app offers a new way to get down your thoughts. Users can create sketches and scribbles, customise them, and then organise them to refer to later.

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

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.

Next page: 6 more of the best iPhone apps for designers