The 5 Best Photo Editor Apps of 2023

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

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 iPhone and Android alike, most with similar features, but some with 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—iPhone users can edit pictures with Photos, for example. 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 aren't free, but most are, and even the paid ones usually have a free, feature or time-restricted light version. Whether you're looking for an Android option or one for your iPhone or iPad, you can find all the best editors in this list.

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Pixlr free image editor app on an iPhone
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

  • Frequent updates

What We Don't Like
  • Isn’t completely ad free

  • Effects aren't as fluid as some apps

Pixlr is free, has minimal ads, and includes lots of cool features. One 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. You can pick from options like a pencil, sketch, poster, cross, watercolor, 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 over the picture, or an effect like bubble, glitter, glaze, metal, etc.

What makes this app vastly different from some other ones 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 over them.

Probably the biggest issue with this app 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, this one does not.

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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

  • Android app doesn't install through the official store

PhotoGrid is a different kind of photo editor. 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 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, 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.

PhotoGrid is free for iPhone, iPad, and Android (you'll need to install the Android app manually). If you want more features, 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.

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Snapseed photo editor app on an iPhone
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

  • Infrequent app updates

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.

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 similar apps is the View edits option that lets you view a list of all the edits you’ve made since the beginning, and provides a method to 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 it, 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 similar 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 tool for curves, white balance, selective brightness, exposure and dodge/burn brush, glamour glow, head pose, lens blur, HDR scape, and more.

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.

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Photoleap android image editing app
What We Like
  • Helpful object detection.

  • A few advanced tools.

  • Easy to use.

What We Don't Like
  • Several pop-ups urge you to pay.

  • Saves with a small watermark unless you pay.

Photoleap packs some really neat features, making it a great app to have on hand for when you need to do unique edits that your other image editors don't support.

When you open a photo for editing, there's a menu along the bottom to apply typical edits such as changing the brightness or tint, cropping the picture, and applying filters. However, what makes this app exceptional is its ability to identify what's in the photo so you can very easily edit just those items.

For example, you can instantly delete the background and optionally replace it with a color or texture. And when you're applying smaller adjustments like the saturation, it can automatically identify people, objects, water, animals, and more, letting you edit only those parts of the photo if you wish.

Included is a cool AI art maker that lets you generate images based on a prompt, such as dog jumping in the rain. There's also an enhancer tool that can help make older photos look modern.

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PicsArt Photo Editor

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 the trial

  • Lots of ads, both sectional and fullscreen

PicsArt Photo Editor is different 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.

This app runs on iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows 11/10.

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