The Best Mobile Photo Editing Apps for 2024

PCMag editors select and review products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which help support our testing.

Whether you’re a casual snapshot taker or a budding photographer, these are the top apps for editing pictures on your phone.

Updated December 20, 2023

I’m a fan of having a big screen when it comes to using photo editing software. But there are times when you want to clean up or embellish a picture while you’re on the go and can’t power up larger hardware. You may be surprised at just how much image editing you can do on a mobile app. Even advanced functions, such as masking, tone curve adjustments, overlays, blemish fixing, HSL color correction, and gradients are no longer the sole province of desktop photo editing programs.

This list of the best mobile photo editing apps includes Android apps and iPhone apps that do full standard photo editing. Some also add cloud storage, tools for organizing your pictures, and even social media spaces of their own to showcase your photos. We don’t include gimmicky apps that only do one type of editing, like face beautifying or collage creation, though you’ll find plenty of those on the app stores. Here are our picks of the top full-featured mobile apps for editing your photos.

Recommended by Our Editors

Best for Lightroom Users

Lightroom Mobile is a great photo app even if you don’t use the desktop version of Lightroom, Adobe’s category-leading photo workflow software. The mobile app offers deep post-shot editing, as well as a camera feature that lets you shoot in raw format on the iPhone which gives you more leeway in correcting exposure, white balance, and other aspects of your images. Android devices can shoot raw with the native camera, and in fact, for some Samsung Galaxy phones, Lightroom is the default app for editing raw files. You can shoot with filters enabled, like black-and-white. The Content-aware object removal, auto people and object selection, adaptive presets for portraits and skies, and basic video trimming and edits (if you have video content you want to edit, too) are also at your disposal. If you’re in search of the best mobile video editing app, you have many additional options.

Free users get a decent selection of editing tools and filters with an Amount slider to increase or decrease the effect’s strength. Paid users get cloud storage for photos and a lot more effects, such as masking, healing, and suggested presets. The app is full of help and tips for producing great photos. Lightroom Mobile lets you submit your work to its Discover community of photographers who may try their hand at editing your shot. A mobile-only subscription costs $4.99 per month. A standard Lightroom Creative Cloud Plan ($9.99 per month) gets you full use of the app and 1TB of storage.

Platforms: Android, iOS, web

Best Lightweight Version of Photoshop

Another winner from Adobe is Photoshop Express. It’s the best mobile photo editing app if you’re looking for something similar to Adobe’s flagship Photoshop application. Photoshop Express is typically used for collages, blemish removal, text overlays, masks, and compositing rather than photo correction and enhancement. You do get all those tools in the app, however, and Photoshop Express supports raw camera files. The most recent update added skin smoothing, content-aware healing, face-aware liquify, and a caricature filter to join the app’s plentiful selection of effect filters. Photoshop Express is a freemium app, but its paid plan is less expensive than Lightroom’s at $2.99 per month or $34.99 per year.

Platforms: Android, iOS, web

Adobe Photoshop Express Review

Best for Glitzy Effects on iPhone

Afterlight is an impressively powerful and tool-rich iPhone app that’s nevertheless easy to use. (Android users: There is an Afterlight app on Google Play, but it hasn’t been updated since 2014, so we don’t recommend it.) You can get a good number of basic editing features in Afterlight’s free version—exposure, contrast, cropping, saturation, and so on—but many of its best tools are only available in the paid version. It costs a reasonable $2.99 per month, $17.99 per year, or $35.99 for eternity. The paid perks include tone curve editing, gradients, material and text overlays, sharpness, and advanced filters for hue, saturation, and lightness (HSL). The company has been periodically adding film and VHS-look filters, too.

Platforms: Android (not recommended), iOS

Best for Newer iPhones

The Apple Photos app comes preinstalled on iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, with the desktop version being slightly more advanced. The mobile version of Apple Photos lets you make especially cool edits with photos shot on iPhones and iPads, such as Long Exposure and balance effects for Live Photos. The iOS 17 update adds pet and even dog breed detection as well as fun new stickers.

If you have a newer iPhone Pro, you can shoot in Apple’s ProRaw, a format that combines the advantages of raw camera formats with Apple’s computational photography wizardry. It gives you more editing possibilities, like lifting shadows and changing white balance. The apps’s interface is slick, as you expect from any Apple product, and you get all the standard exposure and color adjustments you could want. Apple Photos also excels at organizing and finding particular photos, using on-device AI to let you find specific objects and people. For sharing photos, you have your choice of Shared Albums and iCloud links.

Platforms: iOS

Apple Photos Review

Best for Organizing Collections

Google Photos is mostly advertised as an app that lets you store your photos in the cloud, and it is perhaps the best mobile photo editing app for organizing your collections of photos. But the app also has a good helping of both traditional and innovative photo editing tools. Those who sign up for the company’s Google One subscription (starting at $1.99 per month) get more features than free users, including several particularly effective filters such as Dynamic, HDR, Luminous, Radiant, and Airy. Coming in an update to Google One subscribers are Magic Edit, which uses generative AI to extend scenes or move objects and fill the background, and Magic Erase, which removes unwanted objects.

Free users still get a full set of editing tools for adjusting the exposure, contrast, and cropping, as well as adding text and drawing overlays, and a recent update added nifty new collage templates. If that’s not enough, one menu lets you send an image to another photo app like Picsart, if you have it installed. Google Photos is one of the best apps for organizing and finding pictures based on places, people, and objects, and the Memories feature reminds you of the good times, as determined by AI. Note that the Google Photos mobile apps don’t support editing raw camera files, though they can open them for viewing.

Platforms: Android, iOS, web

Google Photos Review

Best for Rich Tools and Social Sharing

Picsart has long positioned itself as the do-everything photo app. It has a seemingly endless assortment of editing and enhancement tools. On top of that, it includes its own social element with photo sharing as well as an AI text-to-photo image generator. Members can participate in challenges and follow hashtags and creators. You can instantly remove backgrounds from portraits and replace them with textures and whatever you like. The best editing features require a paid account, which costs $8.99 per month or about $56 if you pay per year.

Platforms: Android, iOS, web

Best for Pro-Quality Tools

Like Lightroom and Picsart, Polarr has a community for photo editors as well as tools for editing and embellishing photos. The app is available on all the major desktop and mobile platforms, as well as via the web. In addition to the standard editing tools for adjusting brightness, contrast, shadows, and so on, it offers a wealth of gradients, overlays, and retouching and transformation tools. The Polarr community also creates and shares custom filters. You get tone curve editing, as well as LUT and raw camera file support. The cropping tool is strong, but there’s no auto-leveling. A paid subscription ($3.99 per month or $19.99 per year) gets you the full editing toolset, new content and styles weekly, and the company’s video-filter app called 24FPS.

Platforms: Android, iOS, web

Best for AI Effects

Polish is a freemium app with impressive photo editing chops. It has Photoshop-like tools such as masking, as well as a Prisma-type ability to transform your photo with AI-powered art style transfers. You can do plenty for free, but the most dazzling effects and tools cost a reasonable $7.99 per year for continuous feature updates, or there’s a $15.99 one-time purchase option. The Pro version removes the plentiful ads and gives you the current crop of features.

Platforms: Android, iOS

Best Free Mobile Photo Editing App

One of the original innovators among mobile photo editing apps, Snapseed became part of Google’s portfolio in 2012. It still offers some sturdy photo-improving tools, though it hasn’t seen many new features since 2020. Snapseed uses a unique interface in which you swipe your finger left or right to make an adjustment, or up and down to choose which adjustment you’re making. It lets you edit raw camera files (but only in DNG format) as well as JPGs. Editing tools include Healing Brush, Structure (sharpness), HDR, and Perspective. One big plus is that the app is completely free with no upsells.

Platforms: Android, iOS

Best for Pro Filters and Social Community

VSCO is a longtime maker of filters for professional photographers. Its app offers the filtering you would expect for a mobile app as well as all the standard correction and editing functions. Like some other apps in this list, it offers a community for photographers. The app experienced a moment of notoriety several years back with what was known as the VSCO girl movement. VSCO Spaces targets just that community, letting approved participants contribute, share, and discuss posts. Also new is direct messaging between creators.

The interface is modern and clear, but editing seems to take a backseat to the social aspect. That said, it does support raw camera files and offers advanced tools such as Split Tone and HSL editing. Video editing capabilities have also started making their way into the app, if you have a video clip you need to quickly edit or a video effect you want to apply. A good number of tools are behind a paywall, however. Membership costs $7.99 per month or $29.99 per year, and a new Pro level for $59.99 per year adds early access to the web version and customizable pro filters.

Platforms: Android, iOS

VSCO Review

Move Up to Full-Power Photo Editing

While it’s true the the best mobile photo editing apps can make your photos more impressive, for the ultimate power and control, read my reviews of the best desktop photo editing software and pick one that’s right for your needs. If video is your thing and you’re into TikTok, YouTube, and other mobile video platforms, check out our roundup of the best mobile video editing apps. And while you’re at it, read our advice for getting great smartphone photos and our tips for aspiring TikTok influencers.

Like What You’re Reading

Sign up for Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *