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A guide to editing with the best photo editor apps of 2018

The convenience and power of smartphones now extend to photo editing, an area that was once confined to expensive computers. Not any longer! You now have access to some of the best photo editor apps at the tips of your fingers to turn mediocre photos into masterpieces, right on your phone. Continue reading to learn how to use them.

Neuschwanstein Castle before and after editing using phone app

The amazing thing about the immense power of smartphones is the ability to do nearly anything at the touch of your fingers and every year as smartphone cameras get better, the difference between the quality of smartphone photos and professional DSLR photos gets harder to notice for the average person. iPhones are now being used to film movies, even by well-established directors like Steven Soderbergh. Just a few years ago just considering using a smartphone for any of these purposes would have seemed crazy, but now it is possible and you can do it yourself which just a few photo editor apps.

Following our goal of helping you personalize your life, we’ve done some testing and research on your behalf. We’ve provided you with a guide to understand how to use the best photo editor apps for Android and iPhone so that you can create that amazing share-worthy Instagram post, quickly touch up product photos for your business, or quickly edit a photo of family or friends for us to print on the back of a phone case or t-shirt for the perfect personalized present. We’ve focused on suggesting free photo editor apps because there is nothing worse than getting excited about something only to find out that it costs a lot of money.

In this guide, we will cover (click to jump to section):

Why editing is actually more important than you think

Free photo editor apps to cover most of your needs

Step by step to cover the basics of these photo editor apps


Why editing is more important than you think

Spending a few minutes touching up a photo can make a huge difference.

You stopped to take the photo in the first place, so the subject must mean something special for you. Why not make it a fantastic memory rather than just an ‘okay’ picture? This, in essence, is why photo editing is something you should do, and now with the photo editor apps mentioned in this guide, you will be able to give your special memories the effort they deserve whether you use an iPhone or Android device.

First and foremost, It is very important to understand that a little goes a long way when it comes to manipulating an image. This means that just a little bit of adjustment can create a big impact on an image and, equally important, that you shouldn’t try to edit your images too much. You might just end up doing more harm than good. Surprisingly, photo editing experts spend a large amount of time and effort in ensuring that photos don’t look unnatural.


Good composition is a solid foundation.

A well-composed photo will always be easier to edit and require less work than a poorly shot photo. In most cases, it's easier to just wait for a better shot than to try to edit around the disruptive object. These photo editor apps are good but not that good. Fortunately, there will be another guide from us soon to give you a solid grounding in the basics of mobile phone photography, along with some tips and tricks.


Stick with the basics for now.

While there are a lot of handy but complex features to learn in many photo editor apps, this how-to guide will focus only on how to perform image enhancements, use filters, and create collages. We’ve also included another great free app that you can use to help you remove small objects from photos. So that annoy photo bomber in the background will ruin your photos no more.

The goal here is to provide you with the maximum impact with relatively minimal effort. If are hoping to learn more complex photoshop style manipulation then you are better off not doing this on your mobile phone at all.


Photo editor apps for Android and iPhone

There are a ton of great paid apps out there but there are also a lot of free apps that provide exactly the kind of editing that is suitable on a phone. Let’s spend our money on more important things, like printing that great photo you are about to make on something special.

Snapseed is one of the best photo editor apps overall 

Snapseed - for general image adjustments

VSCO and Instagram are limited but also in the list of best photo editor apps. 

VSCO and Instagram - for quick and easy filters

The Photo Express photo editor apps is great for making collages.

 Photoshop Express - for collages

PhotoDirector Photo Editor App is great for removing elements from photos.

PhotoDirector Photo Editor App - for removing small objects


Step by step to cover the basics

General Image Adjustments

The largest bang for your buck when it comes when using the photo editors is simply adjusting several aspects of the photo to make up for a lack of time spent composing your photo. This is incredibly handy because when shooting with a smartphone, you will most likely never have the time or equipment to properly set up a shot. The biggest impact on a photo can be made by adjusting Brightness, Contrast, Ambiance, Warmth, and by Cropping the image. Important! when editing on your phone make sure you turn your screen brightness settings all the way up. That way, what you see is actually what you get. Highlights and Shadows are a bit more advanced features but are worth playing with.

You can do basic adjustments in most photo editor apps (including Instagram) and that Snapseed also has a lot of other powerful advanced features like ‘Healing’ and even filters, but it's ‘Tune Image’ tool is so intuitive, and is hands down the best option for doing some quick adjustment while on the go.


Quick and Easy Filters

Instagram became big because it is fun and very easy to create great looking photos using its filters. While Instagram is the undisputed photo social network (sorry VSCO), VSCO is an app that offers a lot of great filters and unlike Instagram, you don’t have to turn your phone on to “Airplane Mode” to save the photos without posting them. You can see that VSCO has a lot of filters but, sadly, not all of them are free.

Snapseed uses presets rather than filters alone (though it does offer a few). These presets allow you to adjust several aspects of the preset/filter to bring out what qualities you want in the photo. Have a look at the two videos to see what the simple filters and using the ‘Vintage’ preset looks like on Snapseed.

Warning! Due to the vast majority of VSCO filters requiring purchase, it may be better to use Snapseed or Instagrams filters instead. Snapseed allows you to create your own filters/presets yourself meaning that maintaining a unique visual aesthetic might be easier with Snapseed.


Creating Collages

You’re probably thinking - “Doesn’t Instagram have a collage app that they own” - and the answer is yes,  it’s called ‘Layout for Instagram’. This how-to guide, however, isn’t only for editing photos to post on Instagram and for that reason, Photoshop Express is a beast of a photo editor app in comparison. Not only does it allow you the simple act of selecting and arranging photos into a grid of your choosing, it also allows you to choose a format based on where you plan on posting the image. Facebook event cover? Check. LinkedIn Background? Covered. Youtube Thumbnail? What do you think?

This is the on-the-go entrepreneur, internet personality, or digital nomad app for the mobile generation but it can be a little tricky at first to understand how to use it. With a little practice, you will get it.

Removing Objects from a Photo

One of the most difficult features to get right on a photo editor app is that of removing an object from photos. Preferably this is something you would rarely need to do, due to the difficulty involved in making it look natural in the final image in the more extreme case. Reading about what PhotoDirector is purported to do, the skepticism level was rather high given past experience with the real Photoshop. The app isn’t always spot on the first time and takes some practice but this tool is extremely useful for when you want to correct some small things quickly. Whether it is removing some blemishes from a selfie, getting rid of a fellow tourist in that near-perfect holiday photo, or quickly tidying up an image for a blog post, PhotoDirector seems to be able to handle it quite well - provided you have the patience when dealing with bigger object removals.

If you’ve made it this far, you have not only seen just how incredible smartphones and these photo editor apps are, but you have probably have noticed an app mentioned quite a lot. It pretty clear that the ‘Writer’s Choice’ for best photo editor app is Snapseed but your choice will depend on the level of effort you wish to put into editing photos on your phone. Snapseed is perfect for those of you that wish to take photos, edit them, and post solely on the phone. Plus, the app was developed by Google meaning that it is likely to stick around and get updated fairly often.  Photoshop Express is also a great photo editor app that has the added collage and blemish touch-up (albeit harder to use) features making it a one-stop-shop for editing. But, like most things in this world, it is up to your personal preference.


Snapseed is the best photo editor app we covered. Snapseed is the "Writers Choice" for the best photo editor app. (Source: 


Now that you’ve read our guide and are now an expert in photo editing (at least on a phone), the next time you want to give a loved one a personal present or you want that awesome photo you can’t get over, on a phone case, you know how to do it and where to have it printed. You can edit it using one of these great photo editor apps and have it custom printed on an iPhone 6 case.


Leave a comment!

If we have left out any truly amazing apps - even if they cost a little money - be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what they are. Don’t forget to share this post with any photographically challenged friends of yours! ;)

One thought on “A guide to editing with the best photo editor apps of 2018”

  • This article is really helpful for photo editing knowledge. Without proper knowledge, one can not do good editing. Thanks!

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