The 5 Best Photo Editor Apps of 2019

Paid or free, Apple or Android, these are the best!

Illustration of someone holding a phone with a man and his son in the picture

Designed by Freepik (Phone and Picture)

Photo editing should come easy on our phones and tablets because, after all, that's what most of us use to take pictures every day. There are tons of image editors for iPhones and Androids alike, most with similar features but some with very unique capabilities.

If you want to make a picture black and white or crop out the edges, you can probably stick with the default photo editor built-in to your phone. However, sometimes you need or want to do more, like overlay one image on top of another, apply unique filters, make certain colors pop out, add stickers or text, choose from dozens of picture frames, etc.

Some image editor apps are not free but most are, and even the paid ones usually have a free, feature or time restricted lite version. Whether you're looking for an Android photo editor or one for you iPhone or iPad, you can find all the best editors in this list.

01
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Pixlr

Screenshots of the Pixlr free image editor app on an iPhone
Pixlr iPhone App.

What We Like

  • Lots of useful tools

  • One-tap fix-it buttons

  • Adjust the strength of almost every tool

  • Tools can be favorited for quicker access later

  • Save to PNG or JPG

What We Don't Like

  • Isn’t completely ad free

  • Effects aren't as fluid as some apps

One great photo editor app is Pixlr. It’s free and has minimal ads, works on Android and iOS, and has a lot of cool features.

One feature that stands out is that with each edit, you can press your finger down on a “before” button to see what the image looked like just before you applied that effect, which is great for deciding if you should commit to it or not.

You can share your edited image on social media as well as save it back to your phone or tablet in various sizes like small, medium, max, or a custom size.

Some of the tools included in this free photo editor app include the standard ones like crop and rotate, but it also has an autofix, adjustment, blur, splash, smooth, sharpen, red eye, double exposure, and spot healing brush tool.

Pixlr has a set of brush tools you can use to paint various things on the image. There’s one for brightness, darken, and pixelate. They’re extremely useful versus an image-wide option because instead of darkening the whole image, for example, you can apply darkened spots to specific problem areas. There’s also a regular doodle tool.

We really love the one-tap effect and styles you can apply to pictures with Pixlr. You can pick from options like a pencil, sketch, poster, cross, watercolor, polly, and other styles. There are lots and lots of effects, too, in categories like atomic, creative, unicolor, vintage, too old, subtle, and soft. In the same area of the app are overlays so that you can quickly drop a burn effect right over the picture, or an effect like bubble, glitter, glaze, metal, etc.

What makes Pixlr vastly different than some photo editor apps is that you get to really customize the level that an effect can take on your photo. For example, if you pick a glaze overlay to apply to your image, you can use the scroll bar to lessen how much of the effect is actually seen once applied, or the eraser tool to remove the effect on only parts of the image. You can do this to multiple effects, overlays, and styles to really personalize it how you wish.

The Pixlr app also has lots of borders and stickers that, again, are just one tap away. The text tool lets you change the font type to one of several options and can be any color you want. The opacity can be adjusted for all of those things as well.

This app does show ads sometimes, like when you’re about to save your picture, but they’re not intrusive at all. There’s a good chance you’ll glance right over them.

Probably the biggest issue with this photo editor is that when you're choosing how much of an effect to apply, by sliding the scroll wheel left or right, you can't see how the effect looks until you lift your finger. Most other apps show the result in real time but, unfortunately, Pixlr does not.

Price: Free

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02
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Snapseed

Screenshots of the Snapseed photo editor app on an iPhone
Snapseed iPhone App.

What We Like

  • Free with no ads

  • Really simple to use

  • Edit RAW files

  • Precise control over how much of a tool is applied

  • Save a copy with the ability to undo edits later

What We Don't Like

  • Filters and other tools are mashed into one menu

Snapseed is a free photo editor app from Google. It’s really simple at first glance but does include quite a bit of editing tools. It works for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

Instead of using a scroll tool to increase or decrease the intensity or strength of effects and other tools, this app has you slide your finger to the left or right of the screen to see the changes in real time.

Another big feature not found in most photo editor apps is the View edits option in Snapseed. This lets you view a list of all the edits you’ve made since the beginning, and lets you jump back to a specific point in one tap. It's like the version history you might be used to in your online documents but with image edits. This definitely beats hitting an undo button a dozen times, and you can even save the picture and reopen it later to undo changes.

When you first open Snapseed, unlike other apps that often have lots of buttons, there’s just a LOOKS, TOOLS, and EXPORT button. The first two, of course, are where you’ll find the editing options and the last one is for sharing and saving the image. There’s also a small Settings menu for adjusting the sizing, format, and quality of exports — you can save a PNG or a JPG with custom compression.

In the first menu is a list of one-touch effects you can apply to your image that will apply preset effects automatically. Some of them are called Last Edits, Portrait, Smooth, Pop, Faded Glow, Morning, Bright, Fine Art, and Silhouette. Tap one to instantly apply it to the picture. Once you commit to one, you can go back and apply another on top of it, which is something many photo editors won’t let you do.

Or, if you want precise control over how the tools are used, use the TOOLS menu. Many of them are common and can be found in other photo editor apps but some are entirely unique to Snapseed. Filters and editing tools are combined into one screen.

For example, there’s a crop, rotate, perspective, and expand option but also a curves, white balance, selective brightness, exposure and dodge/burn brush, glamour glow, head pose, lens blur, HDR scape, and other fun tools.

Snapseed is also a great app for applying frames and text to a photo. There are over 20 frames to choose from and several meme-like text options.

Price: Free

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03
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Enlight

Screenshots of the Enlight iPhone image editor app
Enlight iPhone App.

Lightricks Ltd.

What We Like

  • Advanced yet not hard to use

  • Apply effects to specific areas only

  • Includes basic tools, too

  • Export to TIFF, PNG, or JPG with varying file sizes

What We Don't Like

  • Isn’t free

  • Could be overwhelming with all the options

The Enlight photo editor is pretty amazing. You can think of it like the Photoshop of image editors, but for your iPhone or iPad (it’s actually better than the mobile Photoshop app in our opinion). It has all those normal editing tools you hope to have in an app but is also really useful for putting creative spins on your images.

If you’re willing to trade just a few bucks, you’ll have quite a robust image editor in your hands at all times, one they call “every photo app you’ve ever needed, wanted, or dreamed of” combined into this one app.

This photo editor app is definitely a bit more advanced than the others listed above, but don’t let that come off as a bad thing. While some apps loaded with features are difficult to use because of poor design, Enlight uses pop-out menus for organization and has tutorials for help understanding all the features—just pull down from the top of the screen for info about any tool.

Enlight can flip, rotate, skew, and straighten images. A similar feature that makes this app stand out from others, especially free ones, is its Refit tool. Select the parts of the image that should remain in the photo, and if the background is simple enough, refitting will move those parts together to crop the photo without affecting those objects. It's very neat!

Another thing that makes Enlight so different than most free photo editors is its selective editing tool called Target. Use it to apply color, exposure, contrast, sharpness, and clarity to particular parts of an image instead of the whole canvas. This is really useful since some photos don’t need a blanket edit.

Enlight is also known for its filters, separated into categories like Analog, BW, and Duo. Pick a category, choose a filter, and use your finger or stylus to control how strong the preset should appear on your image, by swiping to the left or the right. The Duo section is particularly interesting because it lets you tint the image with a blend of two colors, with custom overlap options.

There are also artistic tools in Enlight so you can convert your photos into paintings or drawings. Much like the other options in this photo editor, you can provide as much control over the effect as you like to make it only partially sketched, for example, or provide a full painted look.

One more thing worth noting about the Enlight photo editor app is the Mixer tool that lets you create a double exposure effect to combine two images together, forming a hybrid photo like you see in the image above. It’s a bit like Union and similar apps but better since you can edit in Enlight and stay there for double exposure, too.

Price: $3.99

The same creators of this app, Lightricks, have a free app called Enlight Photofox, but it has different features.

04
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PhotoGrid

Screenshots of the PhotoGrid iPhone app
PhotoGrid iPhone App.

What We Like

  • Lots of unique features

  • Most of the tools are free to use

  • Very easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • Saves with a small "PHOTOGRID" watermark

  • Has ads

PhotoGrid is a different kind of photo editor app. Instead of providing just editing tools, you can use it to make a photo or video collage, scrapbook, GIF or still meme, slideshow, poster, filmstrip, and more.

This free image editor app also works as an augmented reality camera, letting you overlay stickers and hats and other things directly onto your face in real time.

Plus, you can follow other PhotoGrid users and keep tabs on what they post in the Feeds section of your app.

PhotoGrid is on an entirely different level than the other image editors in this list. While it does have normal editing capabilities, it doesn't seem built for that, and honestly that's probably not why most people use this app. 

On the main screen of the app are all your options. You can pick any of these: Grid, Edit, WowCam, Video, Retouch, Big Head, Scrapbook, Meme, Slide Show, Filmstrip, Poster, Pattern Venus Filter, Twinkle, and Instant Share.

These tools let you do things like combine videos and images into collages, take videos or image selfies with live stickers, build GIF memes, make new wallpapers for your phone, build stylish posters, make your head look like a balloon, and, of course, typical editing where you can add text, draw on the image, crop or rotate the photo, adjust skin tone, blur, and add a border.

This app clearly has a lot built-in to it, but at the same time it lets you customize a lot of what you do. For example, when making a collage with PhotoGrid you can adjust each individual image in its frame and combine other tools to round the edges, add text, import stickers, apply filters, and more. Sometimes, you can even adjust the intensity or opacity of a tool.

If you want more out of this app, you can watch ads to get something for free, otherwise you can pay (usually around $1) to get things like more poster templates, backgrounds, stickers, etc.

Price: Free

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05
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PicsArt Photo Studio & Collage

Screenshots of the PicsArt iPhone app
PicsArt iPhone App.

What We Like

  • Advanced for a free app

  • Millions of free stickers

  • Supports layers in some tools

  • Lots of one-touch effects

  • Save to your PicsArt account

What We Don't Like

  • Must log in to edit photos

  • Many of the filters and other options are only free during a 3-day trial

  • Lots of ads, both sectional and fullscreen

PicsArt Photo Studio & Collage is different from these other photo editors in a number of ways, but the most notable is that when you're editing a portrait, there are various tools that can automatically recognize where the person is located and isolate it from the rest of the picture to make editing a lot easier than manually tracing out the background.

Some photo editors let you adjust the strength of some of the tools, like filters, so that only part of it bleeds through to the photo. While this isn't possible with the PicsArt app, it does have an eraser tool that can remove a filter for select areas of the photo, plus an even more impressive button that will identify a face/body and immediately remove the filter from that area.

Tons of other advanced editing tools are included, too, like a crop, dispersion, clone, stretch, motion, perspective, curves, and shape crop tool.

Images can be shared with friends through the app via Remix Chat. Plus, every user has a profile page friends can visit to see what they've been sharing with the community.

You can take part in what the app calls Challenges to remix certain images and possibly win prizes. For example, one might be a picture of a woman with a bare arm where you have to apply a tattoo.

In addition to all the stickers made by other members that you can freely use as often as you like, there are also free images accessible from inside the app.

Price: Free

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