Every iPhone comes with a great camera. Whether you capture seascapes at sunrise or parties after dark, you’re sure to grab some high-quality snaps.
However, there is more to mobile photography than point and shoot. To craft images that make people say “wow,” it’s usually necessary to run a few edits.
From the built-in Photos app to third-party options, there are countless photo editor apps for iPhone nowadays.
To help you narrow down the choice and find the best tool for your needs, we decided to put together a definitive list. Keep reading to discover our top 10!
An iPhone photo editor is basically any iOS app that allows you to change images in some way.
That could be making some minor adjustments to colors or brightness, reframing the scene, or transforming photos completely. Some editing tools are even designed for creating digital art, allowing you to mimic hand painting styles, and utilize images as the scraps in a virtual collage.
Yes. The iOS Photos app is mainly a gallery, but it also provides some basic adjustments, allowing you to enhance your photos.
However, for more advanced or complex edits, you will need to visit the App Store and find a dedicated photo editor. Apple has never made a dedicated photo editing app for iOS, so all the choices here are from third-party developers.
Recent versions of the iPhone have begun to rival both DSLRs and the best mirrorless cameras, in terms of image quality. But still, you will need to do some editing if you want your smartphone photos to look professional.
In most cases, this will involve balancing exposure and contrast, removing unwanted distractions, and adding a little polish with localized adjustments or a vignette.
It’s definitely possible to use multiple apps to complete these tasks, but flicking between editing tools will add time and complexity to your workflow. For this reason, it’s generally better to stick to one or two apps.
Another factor to bear in mind is that not all apps produce the same level of image quality. Some apply quite harsh adjustments, while others give you precise control. Before you commit to one tool or another, it’s worth taking a closer look at the results from each app.
So, where should you begin looking for your photo editing match? To help you get started, here’s a look at ten of the best apps on iOS right now:
Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Pixelcut is one of the first apps to make pro-level photo editing tools accessible to anyone.
Along with adjustments for light and color, this highly-rated app (4.8 stars on the App Store) offers a range of creative tools that help you to turn your photos into great content.
Pixelcut also offers a range of visual effects, filters, and templates which you can use for social media, e-commerce, and other creative projects. For example, you can add text to photos in the font of your choice, and slap on some stickers to catch the eye.
All of these features are really easy to use, and you can snap, enhance, and reimagine any photo in under three minutes — no experience necessary.
And that is why it’s top of our list.
Pricing: Starts from $9.99/mo or $59.99/yr, and you can buy credits for editing individual photos
When it comes to filters, VSCO is the undisputed monarch. No other app comes close to the breadth and quality of the presets (200+) on offer here, which is perhaps why many pros are happy to use this editor.
VSCO earned a certain reputation a few years back, when the Starbucks brigade adopted the app en masse for a fleeting period of time. But in truth, Visual Supply Co. was producing film emulations long before the VSCO girl stereotype became a thing.
As a creative person, all you need to know is that this app is easy to use and packed with useful features. It cannot match some apps on this list in terms of functionality. In fact, some people call it a bit basic.
But overall, VSCO is a decent choice for most photo enthusiasts — plus it can handle video editing and gifs.
Pricing: Free version with limited features, full access for $29.99/yr
If your aim is to get the best possible editor without spending a dime, it’s hard to look past Snapseed.
It might be owned by Google, but the iOS version of this app is stacked with useful tools — from basic sliders to selective adjustments and visual effects. The choice is almost overwhelming, although a relatively basic interface helps to improve navigation.
Snapseed does offer filters, too. However, this is where you discover that Google hasn’t put a lot of effort into adding new features over the past few years. Most of the presets look like they come from the Hipstamatic era; if you don’t know what that is, you might need to take a history tour of Wikipedia to find out.
But other than that, you can’t really fault Snapseed. It’s not the most cutting-edge app on this list, but that doesn’t matter when you are paying exactly nothing.
Pricing: Free app
You can’t really have a conversation about photo editing without including Adobe. You can even find the company’s most famous product, Photoshop, in the dictionary. Definition: the digital alteration of a photographic image using editing software.
Yet the first Adobe product in our list is not Photoshop — it’s Adobe Lightroom.
Designed to provide a mobile toolset for professional photographers and enthusiasts, this iOS app combines the features of an image library and an image editor.
The editor is a stripped-down take on the desktop software, complete with lens distortion correction, localized adjustments (incl. gradients), and curves for exposure. Overall, it’s a pretty solid standalone offering.
However, the biggest advantage of using this app is that it syncs with your Creative Cloud account. That means you can easily edit your camera photos on your phone, or access iPhone edits on your Mac. You just need to cough up for that pricey subscription first.
Pricing: Cloud storage from $4.99/mo, full Creative Cloud access from $29.99/mo
Many keen photographers have recently turned to black and white as a refreshing change from the super-saturated colors of social media. On iOS, Carbon is probably the best tool for exploring this timeless style.
This very sleek app has over 50 filters to choose from, and a nice range of B&W-focused editing options — from split toning to grain and borders. It can even handle RAW files from your iPhone or DSLR. The tools are pretty easy to use, as well, thanks to an uncluttered design.
The obvious limitation of Carbon is that you need to wave goodbye to color. For this reason, it will only appeal to a niche audience.
Pricing: Free with limited features; full access to premium features from $19.99/yr
Another editing app that focuses entirely on a certain task is TouchRetouch. In this case, it’s all about removing unwanted objects (or people) from your photos.
It might sound a bit destructive, but it only takes an annoying wire fence or power line to ruin a perfect photo. TouchRetouch has dedicated tools for removing these distractions, along with general purpose retouching tools for cleaning up blemishes and other distractions.
This editor is perhaps the most specialized on our list, but it deserves a place because it works well and doesn’t cost the earth.
Pricing: One-time $3.99 purchase
Some photo editors are mainly designed for enhancing the image you start with. Others, such as Mextures, help you to build something new using your photo as the foundation.
This app goes well beyond brightness and saturation, with editing features that can truly transform your photography. You can add overlays, filters, grain, light leaks, film presets, and a whole lot more thanks to unlimited layers.
Of course, you don’t have to go crazy with the effects. But this app is definitely aimed at digital artists who like to experiment, rather than the average smartphone snapper.
Pricing: One-time purchase of $1.99, with extra overlays available as in-app purchases
While Photoshop Express doesn’t enjoy the same dominance on mobile as its bigger brother has on PC, the iOS app is still worth checking out.
Express is clearly aimed at people who do creative stuff for a living. It lets you fix up the most common photo problems without expending too much effort, and it has a range of tools for improving selfies and portraits.
If you’re happy to dive into a world of sub-menus and slightly obscure icons, you can achieve a lot using this app. It’s just going to take you a while to wrap your head around the options — and a fair chunk of your paycheck each month.
Pricing: Standalone Express subscription is $4.99/mo or $34.99/yr; included in Creative Cloud subscriptions from $29.99/mo
Some of the most interesting visual content is made up of multiple images that have been combined by a creative mind. On iPhone, Superimpose X provides the necessary editing features.
This app is really full-throttle graphic design software that has been shrunk a little for mobile devices. You can smudge, warp, and mask, mimic double exposures with various blending modes, and finish with a garnish of preset effects and filters.
Designers and digital artists will absolutely love this app. For the rest of us, it’s probably overkill.
Pricing: One-time $4.99 purchase
This iPhone and iPad app has become popular with meme creators over the past couple of years. Now, plenty of other people are discovering what Picsart can do.
This free photo editor is packed with filters, stickers, and templates, and you can create photo collages within the app. The focus here is very much on using images to create content, rather than helping you to fine-tune your photos.
It’s also worth noting that this app has a certain style. And that style is loud, bright, bold, and maybe even a little childlike. Picsart was made for K-pop fans rather than fine art connoisseurs.
Pricing: Free to download, in-app purchases for some content
Taking into account usability, features, and versatility, we believe that Pixelcut is currently the best photo editor on iPhone.
Of course, there is strong competition out there. VSCO and Carbon provide vintage vibes; Mextures and Superimpose X can unlock playful creativity; and the Adobe apps provide a slice of professional photo editing.
Snapseed gets an honorable mention as the best truly free option on the App Store right now — you could probably say the same on Android, actually. And TouchRetouch is great for editing images that are less than perfect.
Overall, Pixelcut wins because it provides a great workflow for pretty much any creative project.
The app has tools for tweaking your photos, designing social media posts, and creating art with custom layouts. It’s completely accessible for beginners, and creative pros will appreciate how much time they save on editing.
In other words, it’s the complete package.
Want to give it a try? Download Pixelcut today and join 10 million small businesses already using the app!