The 60 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. 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.

02. 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.

03. 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.

04. 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.

05. 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.

06. Doodle Buddy

Best iPhone apps: Doodle Buddy
Doodle Buddy is described as 'the most fun you can have with your finger'
  • Developer: Pinger, Inc
  • Price: Free

Described as 'the most fun you can have with your finger', Doodle Buddy is a free doodling app, which comes complete with various playful backgrounds and stamps. The app has 44,000 colours to choose from, which can be applied in the form of a paintbrush, glitter pen, chalk and text. There's also the option to switch between freehand drawing and using a stencil. One of the best iPhone apps around if you want a no-frills, fun drawing experience.

07. Ruler Plus

Best iPhone apps: Ruler
  • Developer: Bananas Design
  • Price: Free

A simple application but a vital one, Ruler Plus provides a 7cm (2 inch) ruler on your iPhone allowing you to take accurate measurements with ease. There's also the ability to extend the ruler by simply moving your iPhone to the right and pressing the plus sign.

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 HD

Best iPhone apps: PicLab HD
Create inspiring images for the internet

PicLab HD 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.

11. Strata

Best iPhone apps: Strata
Banish those flat design blues with the Strata game
  • Developer: Graveck
  • Price: $2.99/£2.29

So you've just updated to iOS 7 and you're not feeling the flat design? Are you missing a bit of the old skeuomorphism? Ease your withdrawal with iPhone game Strata!

It's a simple enough premise: you're presented with a small grid containing a pattern of coloured squares, and you have to strategically layer strips of ribbon so that when you're finished, the colours of the top layer of ribbons match the coloured squares below. Easy enough to start off with, but as you progress through the game the grids become larger, the patterns more complex and you have more colours to play with, making matters a whole lot trickier.

12. 3DMark

Best iPhone apps: 3DMark
The real fun lies in running the benchmarking tests

3DMark's a benchmarking tool that's been putting PCs through their paces since the 1990s, and now there's an iOS version that'll give your iPhone (or your iPad or iPod) a proper 3D workout and award it a no-nonsense score.

The real fun lies in running the benchmarking tests, which are beautiful mock-ups of a detailed and action-packed 3D game. They're a delight to watch, and once they're done you can find out how many frames per second your device can manage and just how good it is at simulating 3D physics.

13. Photochop

Best iPhone apps: Photochop
Chop up your photos with this handy little hat

We probably like this app for its name as much as for its function. It's a cheap and cheerful little tool for mucking about with pictures; the latest in a long line of photo editing apps. Simply pick a snap from your iPhone's photo library, chop it up into a set of tiles and then go crazy.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. Blux Camera Pro

Best iphone apps: Blux Camera Pro
Blux Camera Pro app recommends what mode to shoot in, depending on the weather in your area
  • Developer: YIN XUE
  • Price: $0.99/£0.79

Tap a button in Blux Camera Pro and the app will work out where you are and pull the current local weather, then also look at the scene it's shooting and make a mode recommendation and optionally reading out the info that gets displayed on your screen. 

You can pair it with a separate 69p app called Blux Lens running over Wi-Fi on another iOS device so you can control its camera remotely; a fine idea, though Wi-Fi's limited range means this is possibly not ideal for, as the screenshots on the App Store suggest, taking photos of a pack of wild lionesses.

19. Drawnimal

Best iphone apps: Drawnimal
Help your kids learn the alphabet with this adorable drawing app

An app for the little ones! Any designer will know that it all starts when you're a kid and this adorable new app from designer and animator Lucas Zanatto aims to motivate those budding youngsters. Not only does it encourage children to draw, it shows them the main features of the animals with animations to help them to learn the alphabet.

Drawnimal is available for iPhone and iPad, with over 30 different animated animals and sounds. You can also switch between four different languages.

20. Tick

  • Developer: Taphive
  • Price: $2.99/£2.49

Tick is a to-do list app - of the type that, honestly, you probably don't need, what with the built-in Calendar and Reminders apps doing perfectly serviceable jobs - lent desirability by how thoroughly customisable it, and by its sheer flatness.

As well as being pretty flat it's also a procrastinator's dream because its customisation tools enable you to devote plenty of time to creating special to-do lists, choosing icons and picking a pleasing colour for them when you really ought to be getting on with the things that you're creating a to-do list for.

Next page: 20 more top iPhone apps for designers

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