There's more to photo editing on mobile than Instagram. Joanna Zhou selects the 15 best iPhone photo apps around - and best of all, they're all free!
Instagram is a great app for sharing pictures, but there are only so many hipster jokes you can listen to before yearning for an alternative to those unmistakably garish filters.
So here is the definitive guide to the best iPhone photo apps for designers. Some you won't have heard of, others you'll be more familiar with. But they're all great at what they do - and best of all, they won’t cost you a penny!
A splash of colour can alter the look of an photo dramatically. Give your iPhone shots some extra oomph with this cool app for the iPhone. Gradients have become a lost art in iPhone photography, but Geló fills that gap in the market well. It needs a little more patience than your average photo app, but persevere and the results are excellent.
If an app-maker claims on its website that its app "makes you creative", incredulous eyebrows will be raised. But when the app is FxCamera, the hugely popular and highly-rated photography and photo-effects app from Bitcellar, you can take that bold claim a touch more seriously.
03. Clone Camera
A smart photo-compositing app that allows you to double up on your images. Clone Camera lets you produce a 'photo' of a scene with the same person in it multiple times. It's simply a case of taking up to four photos of the same person in a different location, and then selecting the areas you want to stitch together into the final photo.
'50s-inspired iPad app Retromatic enables you to import your photos, cut them out using an instant alpha tool, and then apply vintage effects to them. It’s quick and easy to use, and looks great, although expect frustration if you want to do anything more than the basics.
05. Photoshop Touch
The Photoshop family continues to grow, with its latest addition bringing the formerly tablet-only Photoshop Touch to the iPhone. It’s an effective re-imagining of Adobe’s killer desktop app, carrying over many of its most compelling features, including layers and adjustments. One of the iPhone’s best image editors.
Camera360 is a remarkable iPhone photo app. It’s perfectly self-contained with a huge range of functions, no ads and no insistence in promoting paid content.
Touching the photo after applying a filter produces a nifty quick comparison of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions. One drawback is that the process of importing photos is slightly tedious, with one too many clicks involved.
Tip: Go to Enhancement > Night for a great filter to correct slightly dark or underexposed photos.
Excellent user interface makes PhotoWonder one of the speediest iPhone photo apps to use. It also has a good collage feature with multiple layouts and photo booth effects. The filter selection isn’t huge, but many are so well-designed that you’ll find them far more valuable than sheer quantity from a lesser app.
Tip: The Vintage filter works magic on photos of buildings or scenery. Combine with Sweety for a dreamy retro effect.
08. Vintage Deco
Vintage Deco is a brand new iPhone photo app designed to give your images a retro scrapbook feel. The filters are a bit clumsy and lean towards Instagram, but there’s a lot of fun to be had by importing a picture just to play around with the nostalgic stamps and borders.
Tip: The Stamp section has some amusingly whimsical affirmations such as All you need is love…and a cat and Success is the best revenge.
09. Magic Hour Lite
The combination of subtle filters and tilt-shift function allows Magic Hour Lite to produce some truly unique results. The filters create effects that are far more sophisticated than some of the tinted, overexposed pre-sets from other apps.
Note that this iPhone photo app forces you to crop your image to a square, which can either be a hassle or very convenient if you’re uploading to Instagram.
Tip: The Magic Hour filter gives everything a lovely, soft luminescence. All filters seem to work best on lighter images, such as those taken in daylight or pre-edited to reduce underexposure.
10. LINE Camera
Sleek and easy-to-use, LINE Camera comes with a solid range of filters, borders, icons and stamps. You can also add text to your pictures in over 100 fonts and 20 colours, making this free iPhone photo app one of the best for typography.
Tip: Check out Stamp > Heart Symbol > Shine for a nice selection of kitschy sparkle brushes.
Tadaa lets you adjust the strength of all its filters, which is ideal for people who like fine-tuning their photos with subtle effects. This iPhone photo app tries to get you to use its own social network, but you can still use all features without a login.
Tip: Click on the frame icon to access a nice range of photo film borders. Unlike Instagram and Magic Hour, you’re not limited to a square and can apply the film border to a photo of any size.
12. Rakuga Cute
At first glance this iPhone photo app seems aimed at Japanese schoolgirls rather than discerning designers but Rakuga Cute actually contains some unusual editing functions which makes it an interesting addition to your photo repertoire.
Tip: The Mosaic option lets you selectively pixelate any part of a photo, quite useful for blurring out license-plates, identities or should you feel so inclined, body parts as well.
13. Camera Awesome
An extremely slick interface and witty copywriting makes iPhone photo app Camera Awesome a delight to use. The functions and filters are grown-up and sophisticated. The only inconvenience is that in the process of editing a picture you’ll inevitably end up previewing demo versions of paid-for features so there’s constant backtracking involved if you want to stick with free content.
Tip: The Awesomize button lets you brighten and sharpen a picture using one click, but still with the option of fine-tuning details if you wish.
14. Photoshop Express
As you would expect from Adobe, the interface and user experience of the Photoshop Express iPhone photo app is faultless. It fulfils all the functions you need for picture editing and will probably be the one you turn to for sheer convenience.
However none of the filters really jump out, and some are surprisingly naff for an app that comes from the developer for designers.
Tip: Straighten and Flip are two useful functions not included in many other apps.
Aviary is a very pleasantly designed app that strikes the perfect balance between serious photo-editing and playful photo-decoration functions without looking bland or childish. Perhaps because it’s quite new, the selection of filters and stickers are fairly small, so any future updates would give this app great room for play.
Tip: The Strato filter creates one of the most convincing vintage effects from all the apps tested.
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Which apps will you be downloading? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below!