Apple App Store has a great inventory of photo editing apps. Here are 8 best photo editing apps for iOS, from Darkroom and Lightroom to Pixelmator and Photoshop Fix. Which photo editing app is best for you?
- 1 The best photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad
- 2 Our Top 8 Best Apps For Photo Editing
- 3 More photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad
The best photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad
The iPhone not only works like a camera that you have the most in your pocket. It also offers all kinds of photo editing options. This article features the best photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad. Photo editing apps allow you to crop, rotate, retouch and give a different color filter to your photo.
There is an extensive set of functions in each of these apps, so you don’t actually need a laptop anymore. Below we have listed the most useful apps for photo editing for iPhone and iPad.
When choosing the most suitable photo editing app you must pay attention to ease of use, quality of the filters, options for making adjustments, and export options. You should also look if the apps support RAW and HEIF.
Some apps offer special support for the portrait photo or depth effect of the iPhone. Of course, you will also pay attention to the price/quality ratio and things like: how well is the app maintained, how often does an update appear.
Our Top 8 Best Apps For Photo Editing
There are many more photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad that are worthwhile. We discuss this in this short list. If you have a suggestion yourself, please mention it in the comments section.
Our Favorite: Darkroom
Of all photo editing apps, Darkroom offers the best combination between ease of use and functionality for many people. The app receives regular updates and can be used on both the iPhone and the iPad.
In terms of design, it does not resemble Apple’s standard apps but is still very intuitive to use. There are all sorts of useful, small functions that can come in handy.
The app has a good number of filters, which you can also adjust by tinkering with the curves. You can make your own presets, for example, if you want to have a standard foodie filter. The filters supplied as standard are rather limited: a few dozen, you have to make the rest yourself.
The iPad version of Darkroom has more filters. Even if you are not interested in editing RAW and JPG files on your iPad, you can still get a lot out of this app. For example, you can view your iCloud Photo Library in a way that is much clearer than Apple’s.
The workflow is different from Lightroom and has a number of advantages. It starts with the library: you don’t have to import all the photos you want to edit, like in Lightroom. In Darkroom you use the existing photo library, so you don’t get a double collection.
There are also special functions in Darkroom for portrait photos with depth. This way you can adjust the saturation of the background, while you apply other effects to the object in the foreground. Darkroom opens as standard in album view, where you can switch between photos via a photo strip. You can also exchange edits between photos.
With keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly perform operations on the iPad, so it is also very suitable for professional users who have to do many operations.
If you are looking for a photo editor for the iPhone, then you must skip it. Affinity Photo is only available for the iPad and is a highly rated app on it. It is a kind of Photoshop for your iPad, with support for multiple layers, live filters, RAW support and much more.
There are all kinds of tools available to edit your photos in detail. You can also use the Apple Pencil for editing and retouching, so you can work more accurately. The app is based on the Mac version of Affinity Photo, which also scores very highly with professional photographers.
You can also open and save Photoshop files with the app. All your files are saved via iCloud and synchronized with your Mac, so you can always access everything. The advantage of Affinity Photo is that you do not have to pay a monthly amount. You only pay once and you get all the functions that the app has to offer. No hidden in-app purchases or awkward earnings model. If you want to design your own things, you can also consider Affinity Designer.
Adobe Lightroom CC
If you are a photographer, you probably already use Lightroom on your Mac. That app is also available for your iPhone and iPad, but it has a very different approach than most other photo apps.
Lightroom is a clear alternative to the desktop version. You can use it to edit RAW photos you’ve taken on the iPhone. You can adjust the exposure, color balance, sharpness, noise, and all sorts of other things. There are few apps where you have so much control over the RAW sensor data from your camera.
You need to be a little more experienced to turn your photo into something beautiful. There are few presets and most are based on standard filters such as sepia. You will find a few contemporary effect filters like everyone nowadays is using in Instagram and other apps at the touch of a button. If you want to get a certain effect, you have to perform several steps and start using all kinds of sliders.
Another difference is that Lightroom creates its own photo library. This works together with Creative Cloud, but it means that your Lightroom photo library is separate from the iCloud Photo Library that you already have with Apple. Yet many photographers will opt for Lightroom because they are used to that on the desktop and it gives you so much control over colors and exposure. Adobe has an explanation on the website for people who want to learn how to edit photos with this app on the iPhone and iPad.
Adobe Photoshop Fix
Adobe is working on an extensive Photoshop version for iOS. Until then, you can use Adobe Photoshop Fix, a stripped-down version that contains a number of popular features of the Photoshop experience.
It is a free app that is connected to Creative Cloud. But you are not obliged to use this. With Adobe Photoshop Fix you can easily do simple edits, such as removing unwanted objects from photos and adding colors without having to follow a photoshopping course.
You can easily import photos from Facebook or Dropbox and send them through the standard sharing menu. The emphasis is on retouching, for example making photos lighter and applying color effects.
The interface is user-friendly and adapted for mobile so that you can get started quickly as a beginner. If you want to go one step further with editing, you can send your photos including all layers to Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC or Photoshop Mix. The app can handle photos up to 64 megapixels without your iPad getting stuck. It also works well with the Apple Pencil.
Pixelmator and Pixelmator Photo
If you’re looking for a photo editing app that lets you do almost anything, then Pixelmator is worth checking out. Certainly if you already use this affordable photo editor on the desktop, many functions will look familiar. You can create photo collages, stick crazy effects on photos, brush unwanted people from the photos, extensively adjust colors and lighting, add texts and much more.
If you use an iPad to edit your photos, then you better opt for the more extensive Pixelmator Photo. This app makes full use of the power of the latest iPads and offers a lot of options to make your photos more beautiful in a simple way.
There is a button that automatically adjusts your photos, where the result is almost always beautiful. You can also easily remove objects or people from your photos thanks to the Repair tool. With a few taps, you will not see anything of that one unwanted person in your photo again.
Since the acquisition by Google, Snapseed has only gotten better. There are regular updates for this photo editor bringing more and more functions. The HDR filters are fun to play with and you can quickly improve photos with the AutoCorrect functions.
Prefer to adjust manually? That is also possible. With the ‘Tune Image‘ function, you can adjust the smallest detail. The great thing about this app is that you can also edit TIFF and RAW photos.
Editing the photo on the iPhone is also possible, but is less ideal due to the smaller display.
In addition to standard operations such as cropping, straightening and rotating, you will find an enormous number of extra functions such as edges, tilt-shift, grunge effect, focus shifting and effects such as light leakage and scratches.
Snapseed is known for having a huge amount of tools, from simple RAW operations to adjust the white balance. It is a great tool to give your photos a glamorous effect. There is also an Expand tool with which you can make an existing photo larger. If you can’t find a certain function in your favorite photo editing app, then it’s handy to have Snapseed on hand for that one, crazy function.
Of all photo editing apps, VSCO (pronounced visco) has been a favorite of some people for years. The app contains a huge amount of filters that you can purchase. It also contains all kinds of high-quality tools. Of course, you can adjust the contrast and saturation, but it also includes more advanced edits such as perspective adjustment, shadows and adding extra noise and scratches.
VSCO is made by The Visual Supply Company. This company already made presets for Adobe Lightroom for the desktop that are reminiscent of legendary film types such as Kodak Portra 160, Fujifilm Xperia 400 and Ilford HP5. They stopped this at the end of 2018, in order to focus exclusively on the mobile app.
It offers all kinds of presets, but they have not been given the names of film types. Instead, they are classified in collections with names such as C (‘classic’) and M (‘moody’).
The fact that you have to pay for many filters limits the fun of trying as much as possible. Yet there are also many free filters in it. For around $20/year you can become a VSCO X subscriber, giving you access to all filters, plus some exclusive options. You can adjust the strength of each filter, creating a more subtle or heavier effect.
VSCO also has a social network for people who take more artistic photos than what you find on Instagram. This can be fun if you want to show your images to other photo enthusiasts. The app’s interface has gradually improved but is sometimes confusing for beginners. For example, VSCO encourages you to post primarily on your own social network and you have to take some extra steps if you want to share your photo elsewhere.
Another disadvantage of VSCO is that it creates a separate photo library on your iPhone, iPad or in iCloud. The plus side is that it prevents you from messing around with your originals.
Apple Photos app for iOS
Why install one of the many photo editing apps if Apple’s Photos app can also perform all kind of editing? This app can be very useful for simple edits, such as twisting or cropping a photo or applying an effect quickly. For example, we notice that the ‘Vivid’ filter quickly lighten up a somewhat dark photo.
You can adjust each photo, apply a filter or crop by pressing the Edit button. You can also find sliders for Light, Color and Black / White. For super-fast photo enhancement, you’ll find a magic wand at the top right.
There is even partial RAW support in the app, although this has some limitations. The app also holds some hidden surprises. For example, you can convert a Live Photo to a photo with extra-long exposure, creating light streaks.
Sadly, there are no additional filters, you cannot adjust filters and adding new functions is slow. But it is the photo editing app that everyone has on the iPhone or iPad and therefore worth mentioning. From iOS 13 onwards, you can also edit videos using the Photos app
More photo editing apps for iPhone and iPad
There are many more photo editing apps on your iPhone and iPad. We discuss a number of alternatives below.
- Pixlr – Photo Collages, Effect (free, iPhone / iPad + IAP , iOS 9.0+) – An all-rounder for editing photos. The fairly small menu buttons provide access to retouching, depth effects, color edits and more. There are also many color filters in it.
- TouchRetouch (€ 2.29, iPhone, iOS 9.0+) – Swipe your fingers across the screen to select an object and TouchRetouc replaces it with a continuous background.
- Microsoft Pix Camera (free, iPhone / iPad, iOS 11.0+) – A smart photo app from Microsoft that can also edit your photos afterward. Contains artistic Pix styles and
- RNI Films (free, iPhone + IAP, iOS 10.0+) – A lesser-known photo editing app. Does not work with RAW, but contains many beautiful and useful filters. There are also some bizarre options for filters that look like classic movie types.