These are the best free photo editing apps for iPhone and Android

These are the best free photo editing apps for iPhone and Android

Phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra pack cameras that give DSLRs a run for their money. When we return from our day trip in the mountains or our walk in the city, it’s easy to forget the pictures we took that day and let them collect dust further and further down our phone gallery.

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Creative image editing is a great way to get more out of your photography. And it doesn’t even matter if you have the latest, best phone with the best camera on the back, or an older, cheaper phone. The iPhone App Store and the Google Play Store on Android are jam-packed with great free and paid photo editing apps that can give your existing shots a whole new look, all from the comfort of your favorite comfy armchair.

I’ve rounded up some of my top picks, so read on, make a cup of tea, and settle in for an evening of editing. You can even do that turn your favorite shots into a photo book.

You can also view these creatives ideas for flexing your photography muscles at home if you want to shoot and edit something new.


Edited in Snapseed.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

1. Snapseed

Free in iOS and Android.

Owned by Google, Snapseed offers a wide range of exposure and coloring tools to refine your images, but it also offers plenty of filter options, from vintage styles to modern, punchy HDR looks. By layering the effects, you can create interesting edits on the image. And best of all, it’s completely free.


Edited in Lightroom mobile.

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2. Adobe Lightroom

iOS and Androidsome features are available for free or $5 per month for full access.

Adobe Lightroom remains the industry standard for professional photographers, and the mobile version is pretty much the same. You won’t find stickers, animations, or emojis here, but you’ll get fine-grained control over your image and the same tools you’ll find in desktop Lightroom. I use this app most often to edit my own images on iPhone and iPad, not least because the images are synced in the cloud, so I can start on one device and continue on another.


Edited in Photoshop Express.

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3. Adobe Photoshop Express

Free in iOS and Android.

Photoshop Express has many of the same features as Lightroom, including exposure, contrast, and color editing options, but misses out on some pro tools and cloud syncing, and most importantly, skips the subscription fee. It’s a great tool for fine-tuning your images to bring out the best, but you’ll also find a decent selection of filters and overlay textures, as well as tools to make cool collages out of your images.

It’s not as open to wild creativity as some of the other options on this list, but it’s a solid editing app at a price that’s hard to argue with.


Edited in Prisma.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

4. Prism

iOS and Android$8 per month or $30 per year.

Prisma doesn’t deal with subtle filters and basic image enhancements. Instead, trippy filters often transform your images into bizarre works of art. The results are painterly, and indeed many filters are inspired by artists such as Salvador Dali and Picasso. Filters are powerful, and while you can modify them, not all filters work with all images. I found that some filters were better suited for portraits, while other filters worked best for landscapes.

But it’s a lot of fun to experiment with, and if you find a photo that works, that’s it really works.

5. Bazaart

iOS only$8 per month or $48 per year.

Bazaart’s montage and collage tools let you combine several different elements—from photos to text to graphics—and layer them to create a finished work of art. It has tools to instantly erase the background behind your portrait subject (I’m amazed at how well it works!) to place a new background or layer multiple effects. It also has a wide selection of templates that you can use to create beautiful collages for Instagram stories as well.

There are so many ways you can try to combine different images that the only limit is how creative you feel. For inspiration, visit Bazaart’s Instagram page.


Edited in Photofox.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

6. Photofox

iOS only.

Like Bazaart, Photofox has powerful tools for removing subjects from backgrounds, which you can use to create new backgrounds or apply fantastic effects. I especially like Photofox’s dispersion effect, which makes it look like your subject is breaking into particles (trust me, it’s cool), as well as glitch effects and double exposure, which overlays two images.

As with Bazaart, there are endless possibilities for what you can do by layering and composing different types of images and applying different effects to each.


Edited in VSCO.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET


iOS and Androidlimited features for free, or $20 per year with a seven-day free trial.

VSCO started making color grading presets for Lightroom, and its roots are now clear in the app. Instead of offering Snapchat fans stickers and animated GIFs, VSCO is all about more artistic film color filters. There are many presets available in the app, including emulation of classic film rolls from Fujifilm, Kodak and Ilford.

It also has a large selection of black and white filters, so it’s a great choice to experiment with if you like moody monochrome shots.


Edited in PicsArt.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

8. PicsArt

iOS and Androidlimited features are free or $48 per year for the entire suite.

PicsArt offers you a wide range of editing tools, from basic settings like exposure and contrast to film-like color grading and dramatic filters that turn your images into painterly works of art. There are tons of options for facial tone and shape in selfies – I’m not going to get into the ethics of using tools for ‘beauty’, but I’ve had fun with tools to deliberately transform my features into odd proportions.

There’s also a whole Instagram-style social sharing element in PicsArt, if you’re interested. Personally, I was most interested in the editing options.

Be sure to check it out my guide to creative home photography projectssee our a complete catalog of awesome tips and tricks for better phone photos.

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