The 33 best photo apps

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 great DSLR or compact camera (see our guide to the best cameras for creatives) and a couple of hours with a photo editor like Photoshop CC, but they're all great at what they do...

01. Halide

Halide puts pro camera controls at your fingertips
  • Platform: iOS
  • Developer: Chroma Noir
  • Price: £2.99/$2.99

If you love the convenience of mobile photography but miss the control you get with a full-on SLR, Halide is well worth snapping up. It'll work as a simple point and shoot, but with a swipe you can open up a whole load of lovely manual options, giving you tactile control over focus, ISO and shutter speed, as well as a live histogram to help you get the right exposure. 

You can review your photos Tinder-style, with a right swipe to add them to your favourites, and a left swipe to trash them, and Halide can even export as RAW to give you more flexibility when you edit your shots.

02. Prisma

Prisma uses AI to turn your snaps into works of art
  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Developer: Prisma Labs
  • Price: Free

Better than any filter-based photo app, Prisma can transform your photos into masterpieces in the style of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Munch, Mondrian and Picasso. It uses an AI technique called style transfer to do its artistic magic, and it's no longer restricted to still images; it now works on video as well.

03. Google PhotoScan

It's all very well being able edit photos on your phone or computer, but what about those old pre-digital prints you have lying around? If putting them all through a scanner's too much for you, there's an app that makes digitising your ancient snaps much easier. Google's PhotoScan enables you to scan photos with your phone in seconds, without unsightly glare and shadows; head this way for some great tips on how to get the best out of it.

04. Instagram

Best photo apps Instagram

With a few simple edits, Instagram transforms photos into works of art
  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Developer: Instagram, Inc
  • Price: Free

Even if you're new to the world of photo apps chances are you've heard of Instagram. Capable of turning the most everyday photo into something glamorous thanks to its range of custom-designed filters and editing tools, Instagram has won over a legion of fans and dedicated users.

In fact its popularity has lead to people pointing out when their well composed photos haven't been polished by the app thanks to the hashtag 'no filter'. When you've inspired a meme, you know your app is on to a winner.

Put simply, there is a reason Instagram is so popular. It's powerful, versatile, and best of all it's free. Thanks to its connection with Twitter and Facebook, Instagram has also become a social media platform in itself. With the latest version allowing users to combine several clips into one video, it appears that this familiar app still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

05. Pixlr

Best photo apps Pixlr

  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Developer: Autodesk Inc
  • Price: Free

Boasting over two million combinations of effects, overlays and filters, Pixlr contains enough tools to keep you busy for hours. Users can also layer their images, add text captions, and it is also an excellent collage maker. Plus in the new version you'll also find an eraser to autofix and auto contrast, and added labels for better navigation between effects. Not bad for a free app.

06. Fotor

  • Platform: iOS (iPhone), Android
  • Developer: Everimagining Co., Ltd
  • Price: Free

Looking for a flexible photo editing app that's easy to pick up and produces quality results? Fotor delivers all of this, and best of all you can download it for free. This versatile app lets you edit, collage and share images, plus you can discover masterpieces snapped by other users.

The latest version, Fotor 6.3.1, comes with the world's first 'focus' feature. Making the most of new SLR technology, you can now use your phone to create pictures with greater depth and clarity. Simply select a focal point, adjust the emulator to your preference, and create a high definition finish.

07. Lifecake

Save and organise pictures of your children growing up with Lifecake. In a timeline free from the adverts and noise that clutter most social media channels, you can easily look back over fond memories and share them with family and friends.

Touted as 'a time machine of your child's life', you can skip to select stages and compare different dates. You decide who can see your images, and because Lifecake is now a Canon company you can order a printed album of your precious photos.

08. Qwik

Qwik is crammed with filters, fonts and frames

Qwik describes itself as 'the fastest and easiest way to make pretty photos,' and with other 600 filters, plus tons of fonts and frames, it's hard to argue with them.

Edit your images in seconds with straightforward hands-on tools, and share them with Qwik's online community. With new filters and features being added every week, Qwik is constantly keeping itself fresh and exciting.

09. VSCO Cam

Connect with amazing photographers from around the world, and create your own stunning photography with VSCO Cam. Create your own VSCO Journal to join in with the community and find inspiration form other users. Unlike other social platforms, your followers and clout are not displayed, giving everyone an equal creative playing field.

VSCO Cam comes packed with top performance features, including high resolution imports, and before and after comparisons to show how you built up your edit. Introduce yourself to the community by downloading it for free.

10. Camera MX

  • Platform: Android
  • Developer: Appic Labs Corp
  • Price: Free

The Android exclusive photo app Camera MX combines powerful enhancement tools with a beautifully simple user interface. Thanks to intelligent image prcoessing you can take visibly sharper snaps, as well as cutting and trimming them to perfection in the edit.

In the latest version you can create dynamic photos with the 'Live Shot' feature. By saving the last seconds before you actually take the photo, this app lets users capture moving snaps that can be relived and shared.

11. 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 6S Plus's cameras.

12. PixelWakker

Best photo apps 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 colour rain – to your pics and watch in wonder as dot art unfolds before your eyes.

Next page: 10 more of the best photo apps around