The 33 best photo apps

We select the best photo apps for iPhone, iPad and Android from cool cameras to photo editor tools.

Here is the definitive guide to the best photo apps around, covering iOS (that's iPhone and iPad) and Android apps. Some you won't have heard of, others you'll be more familiar with. None are going to replace a DSLR and a couple of hours with a photo editor like Photoshop CC, but they're all great at what they do...

01. Lensical

Lensical makes creating face effects as simple as adding photo filters. Lensical is designed for larger displays and utilises one-handed gesture-based controls making it the perfect complement to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus's cameras.

02. Popkick

Budding Andy Warhols can now turn their snaps into funky neon pop art, ready for your wall. What may sound like a gimmicky photo app is in fact a brilliant effects filter tool with a superb interface and a range of nine pop filters and five filter enhancements. You can share your work via the usual social media, but with high-res support why not get them blown up and mounted on your wall?

03. PixelWakker

PixelWakker transforms your pics into pointillist art

If you're a fan of pointillism then this is the photo app for you. PixelWakker breaks down your images into their component pixels and that's where the fun begins. You can apply one of four great effects - pixel image, dots, line, or color rain - to your pics and watch in wonder as dot art unfolds before your eyes. Okay, this app is quite limited but the results are excellent - and as it's free, you may as well git it a whirl.

04. PicLab HD

 PicLab HD
Use the photo editor to quickly create trendy typographic images with this photo app

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. Yeah, those. 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.

As well as adding typography - lots of fonts and full control over size, positioning, opacity, rotation, and colour - you can also layer illustrations, ornamentation and other design elements on top of your image. PicLab HD features full layer-based editing and also packs plenty of tools for making your original photo look its best, with loads of lighting and film effects to choose from as well as preset photo filters and adjustment tools for fine tuning the brightness, contrast, exposure, saturation, and the blur level of your photos.

05. Sktchy

You'll either love or hate sketch-based community photo editor app Sktchy

Connecting with people around the world in a new way, here you can choose from a selection of photographs, uploaded by the Sktchy community and create a portrait from that image.

Sktchy co-founder Jordan Melnick comments: "Our community of artists is growing every day because Sktchy is the perfect place for them to find inspiration and share their art with the world, in part because of the neat way we layer portraits over the photos that inspired them."

06. SnappyCam Pro

Using a burst of shots, you won't miss the perfect pic again

Are you always a second too late in capturing the perfect shot? Then high-speed camera app SnappyCam Pro may be just the solution. Like a DSLR, with SnappyCam you hold the hold the shutter button to take a burst of photos, so you'll never miss the perfect shot.

Developed by founder of SnappyLabs John Papandriopoulos, the app is super-fast, with the ability to capture up to 60 photos a second, of which you can keep all or choose the best and delete the rest. Images can be exported as animated GIFs and videos. And there's also separate focus and exposure support for eligible devices.

07. Photoristic HD

Photoristic sits midway between basic native apps and expensive pro applications
  • Platform: iOS (iPad)
  • Developer: Georgii Kharchenko
  • Price: $4.99/£2.99

Photoristic HD is an iPad image app that's just powerful enough to be quite useful without overloading you with features that you don't really want.

It's all about the photo editor - it features standard image adjustment tools (white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance and saturation), with additional colour controls, a black and white mode, split toning and a hefty collection of presets for Instagram-style quick fixes.

It's fast and easy to use and can handle images up to 20 megapixels, and while they're not exactly giving it away it comes at a fairly reasonable price for its no-nonsense set of genuinely useful photo tools.

08. Photochop

Photochop - Chop Up and Distort Your Photos does exactly what it says on the tin
  • Platform: iOS (iPhone and iPad)
  • Developer: Big Bucket Software
  • Price: $0.99/£0.69

We probably like this app for its name (in full: Photochop - Chop Up and Distort Your Photos) as much as for its function. It's a cheap and cheerful little photo editor tool for mucking about with pictures. Simply pick a snap from your iPhone's photo library, chop it up into a set of tiles and then go crazy.

You can either work directly with the tiles, dragging them around, rotating and resizing them to create a collage effect, or there's a warp mode that works in the same way but results in a distorted image rather than a collage. Obviously it's nothing you can't easily do in any image editing app in a couple of minutes and you'll be hard pushed to find a serious application for it, but it's a fun graphical toy to have in your pocket.

09. Handy Photo

Handy Photo is all about the interface and photo editor tools

The selling point of photo editor Handy Photo is its interface, which uses the corners of the screen to cater for rotating menu options. It's all designed to keep the central area of the screen clear, allowing you to use swipe gestures to tone your effects up or down, much like Luminance. It's a powerful photo editor; the UI isn't for everyone, but this is an amazing price for the effects you get.

Tip: The 'Move Me' tool enables you to clip out objects and move, resize or flip them.

10. Path On

 Path On
Add text to your images with Path On

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, and the alignment. Although it's a little fiddly, Path On is probably the best adding-text-to-photos tool around.

Tip: The photo filters are best avoided.

11. Frametastic

Organise your photos and keep your memories in tact

Frametastic is a tool for sharing the big picture; not just a moment but a memory. It allows to you to have a creative outlet for organising the photographic elements of your life whilst also allowing you to alter your images with a set of colour filters. Kind of like Instagram but more framey. iPad retina and iPhone 5 screen support has just been added.

Tip: For high resolution, 2000x2000px output, choose 'ultra resolution' on export.

12. Camera+

Camera+ is adored by iPad users and has subsequently arrived on iPhone - hooray!

The Camera app that comes on the iPhone by default is not brilliant: yes, you can use it to take some decent shots, but it doesn't offer you much creative control. This is where Camera+ excels. The app has two parts: a camera and a photo editor, and it truly excels at the latter, with a huge range of advanced features.

Tip: Camera+ doesn't just limit you to editing new pics - you can quickly import your existing photos into the Lightbox so that you can breathe new life into them.

13. Facetune

Hide your blemishes, wrinkles and more with Facetune's photo editor

Embarrassed about your laughter lines? Feeling blue about those blemishes? Fear not, Facetune is here! Grab a photo from your Camera Roll and start your makeover; you can remove unwanted freckles, blemished skin or hide bags under the eyes with Smooth; reshape that wonky nose or misshapen jawline with, er, Reshape; and make subtle tweaks of colour using Tone. The results of this photo editor are truly impressive.

Tip: You can share results over Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr - if you dare.

14. Geló

Persevere with Geló and the results will speak for themselves

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.

Once you've taken or imported an image, you see a carousel of 'gels'. Cycle through to choose a colour, tap it, and then it’s applied to your shot. Using the sliders you can tweak how the filter affects your shot.

Tip: You can easily apply specific RGB values though, that might mimic your favourite tints in iPhoto or Photoshop, say.

15. FxCamera

This app claims to "make you creative"

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.

The killer feature here is Voice Picture, which enables you record a voice message at the same time as you are taking photos. This is done via the on-screen shutter button which, when swiped to the right and held down, allows you to create a kind of spoken caption for your image. You can even share Voice Pictures on Facebook.

Tip: You can use FxCamera as a normal camera and improve your images with its auto enhance feature.

16. Clone Camera

Double up your images with 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.

Tip: The app works best if you have a tripod, or can otherwise keep your device still

17. Retromatic

Retromatic can be frustrating at times but it portrays a great vintage feel

'50s-inspired photo 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.

Tip: The instant alpha tool works well, but you have to hold down on the screen to make it switch between a brush and pinching to zoom.

18. Photoshop Touch

Photoshop is running neck-and-neck with iPhoto to be named the iPhone’s best image editor
  • Platform: iOS (iPhone), Android
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: $4.99/£2.99

The Photoshop family continues to grow, with its latest addition bringing the formerly tablet-only Photoshop Touch to Apple and Android smartphones. 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 best image editors around.

Tip: The app is bundled with 29 fonts for adding text to your photos, including Adobe Garamond Pro, Cooper Std Black, and Myriad Pro.

Next page: the final 15 best photo apps

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