The 5 Best Photography Apps of 2019

Apple or Android, paid or free, these are the best photo apps for your device!

A photo of a hand holding a phone, snapping a shot of a city skyline.

Dong Wenjie/Getty Images

With multiple lenses and features such as portrait mode and HDR, what you can capture with your mobile device is truly remarkable, but if you want to push your photography further, you’re going to want to download some photography apps.

There are a plethora of photo apps out there, with many offering overlapping features, and knowing which are really worth your time can be the difference between a so-so Instagram post and one that really pops.

01
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Halide: One of the Best Photo Apps for iPhone

Halide screenshots.
What We Like
  • Great portrait mode.

  • Simple exposure settings.

  • Good manual focus settings and focus peaking.

  • Shoots RAW, JPEG, and HEIC.

  • Features an AR mode for capturing and viewing images.

  • Works with iOS shortcuts.

What We Don't Like
  • Some features and settings can be confusing and difficult to find.

Halide can easily serve as a replacement for the standard iPhone Camera app. It's simple, supports RAW, JPEG, and HEIC image formats, and its gallery displays all images on your device, including those taken using another app.

Halide’s portrait mode, called Depth, consistently produces more natural-looking bokeh effects and tends to produce less distortion along hairlines and edges. You can’t edit an image’s depth, and Halide doesn’t natively support Portrait Lighting effects, but you can add Portrait Lighting by editing the image using iOS' Photos app.

Portrait mode for the stock Camera app on iPhone XR only works if a person's face is in the frame, while Halide on iPhone XR supports Depth mode for human and non-human subjects.

You can set the exposure and focal point with a tap, but more granular controls are also available, allowing you to easily change exposure levels and see which parts of an image are in focus before you take your shot.

Lastly, Halide recently added Shortcuts support, which lets you snap a picture using a Siri voice command, or launch the app in Depth mode. With Halide, you'll never spend too much time setting up a shot.

02
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Hydra: Best Photo App for Shooting High Resolution Images

Hydra screenshots
What We Like
  • Lets you capture images up to 32 megapixels.

  • Good low light mode.

  • Excellent HDR mode.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t handle moving subjects well.

  • Images captured in Zoom mode aren’t always as good as those snapped in the stock Camera app.

Hydra allows for higher resolution photos with greater detail by snapping up to 60 images at a time. It's great for low light conditions or capturing shots in which the details really matter.

If you plan on shooting photos for printing, Hydra is a must-have app. It captures a series of images, then automatically stitches them together. While this process requires a few seconds more to snap a photo, it allows for detail-rich pictures of up to 32-megapixels.

Hydra also has an HDR mode and a low light mode to create images at a maximum of 12 megapixels. HDR produces stills with more vibrant colors and more contrast, while Lo-Light creates photos with less noise.

Hydra also offers a Zoom mode, but the results can vary. It allows you to shoot up to 8x zoom, but the level of detail just isn’t as impressive as its other modes. Furthermore, because of the multi-image processing, anything moving in the frame will cause an aberration in the final image, meaning you'll likely have to reshoot it. For this reason, Hydra works best when shooting landscapes, buildings, or otherwise still subjects.

03
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Snapseed: Best Photo App for Variety of Editing Tools

Snapseed screenshots.
What We Like
  • Lots of powerful editing tools

  • Clever features for editing faces

  • Great Undo and Redo modes.

  • Good stock looks for quick editing.

  • Ability to export editable copies.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited range of text tools.

A free photo editing app from Google, Snapseed offers a range of features you’d normally expect from a desktop app. With tools such as heal, brush, grain effects, and more, it’s a truly excellent app for making the most of your photos.

As soon as you open an image, the app offers a set of Looks (predefined filters and settings) you can apply with a couple of taps, but if you want to go further, you can add film grains, vignettes, and more.

Where Snapseed truly stands out from other image editing apps is with its Portrait and Head Pose modes. Portrait gives you options for highlighting eyes and smoothing skin, while Head Pose allows you to shift a person’s face on a four-point axis, with options to adjust pupil size and exaggerate smiles.

Snapseed’s Undo and Redo modes make it easy to make changes without fully committing to them, and by opening the full edit history, you can remove or re-apply earlier effects to see how a photo looks while leaving newer ones in place.

04
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1967: Best Photography App for Vintage-Style Filters

1967 screenshots.
What We Like
  • Broad range of filters.


  • Simple controls.

  • Straightforward crop tools.

What We Don't Like
  • Most filters require an annual subscription.

  • Has ads.

1967 offers a slew of good looking filters in a straightforward layout. Once you’ve found the filter you want, you can apply it with a couple of taps, then save it to your camera roll or share it directly to Instagram, Facebook, or Tumblr.

The Crop tool is also simple to use, offering an array of portrait and landscape layouts for your images.

To get access to all of the filters, you’ll need to sign up for an annual subscription, though a seven-day free trial is available. Using 1967 without a subscription means you'll encounter ads, many of which will likely interrupt your workflow.

05
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Unfold: Best Photo App for Creating Stories

Unfold screenshots
What We Like
  • Good set of free templates.

  • Several templates support multiple images.

  • Great text tools.

What We Don't Like
  • Most templates have to be purchased.

  • You can’t sample a different template without creating a new post.

  • Switching between Stories can be prove frustrating if you have a lot of posts.

Unfold is an excellent tool for creating good looking Stories for Instagram, Snapchat, and more. It offers a series of templates to build Stories showcasing your photos.

The app gives you a collection of free templates, making it easy to get started without purchasing a premium collection. Additionally, several templates let you add multiple stills and videos to a Story, allowing you to go further than the stock Story creation tools found in Instagram and Snapchat.

However, most templates in Unfold aren’t free, so if you want to truly experiment, you’ll find yourself purchasing new collections. This is fine if you like all of the templates, but you’ll most likely find yourself paying for at least a few you’ll never use.

Unfold also offers some very good text tools that are easy to use and offer a range of fonts and colors. You can also resize and place text by dragging and pinching.