The 35 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. 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 5.7.0, 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.

02. 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.

03. Qwik

Qwik describes itself as 'the fastest and easiest way to make pretty photos,' and with other 600 filers, 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.

04. 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 cimmunity by downloading it for free.

05. 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 record those hard to capture moments with the 'shoot the past' feature. Take pictures before the actual photo and never miss a moment again.

06. 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.

07. 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.

08. 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.

09. 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."

10. Photoristic HD

Photoristic sits midway between basic native apps and expensive pro applications
  • Platform: iOS (iPad)
  • Developer: Georgii Kharchenko
  • Price: $2.99/£1.91

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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. Camera+

Camera+ is adored by iPad users and has subsequently arrived on iPhone - hooray!
  • Platform: iOS (iPhone and iPad)
  • Developer: tap tap tap
  • Price: $2.99/£1.49 (iPhone), $4.99/£3.20 (iPad)

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.

16. 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.

Next page: the next 10 great photo apps