The best free photo editing apps for iOS and Android

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Point out a single unedited photo on your Instagram timeline, and we’ll call you a liar!

Whether we’re talking simple colour grading filters, overlaid selfie effects, or custom graphics and stickers, editing software is taking individual expression and creativity to the next level. It’s what apps like Pinterest and Insta were intended for, after all - before being hijacked by PT influencers.

Here are the best free phone apps to spice up your digital library:


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Rivalling desktop editors with a smorgasbord of features, Google’s Snapseed offers the standard tools including cropping, straightening, frames, text, and vignettes complete with a few pro photography level tricks.

Its sharpening feature in particular is really clean and doesn’t grainy up images like most on the app store. 

For those wanting to dive deeper into the creative process, precision masking allows you to play around with the depth of field making the foreground pop, and ‘Selective Adjust’ picks out pin-point areas to alter saturation, contrast, and brightness. 

Catch me with the brightest eyes in literally every group photo.


Photoshop Express

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This is easily the best all rounder out there for nada.

Taking the bulk of Photoshop’s advanced toolkit and dumbing it down into slider form is a dream for those without the time to binge YouTube tutorials. In that same vein, a bunch of instant correction filters are a tap away and automatically resolve common issues such as colour temperature, and over exposure.

Only negative: you will need to sign up for a free Adobe ID account. If you can find a spare two minutes in your relentless lockdown schedule, you won’t regret it.

Adobe Lightroom

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Like Photoshop Express, Adobe Lightroom isn’t too concerned with doing everything for everyone, but take the time to fiddle around and you’ll reap the rewards.

Granted, its desktop software is far from the most user-friendly thing ever, but the app whittles high-quality adjustment tools down to an easily digestible archive.

Ousting bothersome distortion and grain is its particular specialty, which lends perfectly to artsy nature photos, and it’s compatibility with RAW files makes it a pretty rare gem on smartphones. 


Afterlight 2

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It can be tricky nabbing the attention of your followers and getting your work noticed, but Afterlight’s swanky frames may offer a key to halting the relentless swipe.

With upward of 70 high res backgrounds and unique textures including film leaks, tasteful dust overlays, and trippy prism effects, this app isn’t offering much in the way of subtlety, but you will look like an editing chief with zero time invested. The dream.


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It didn’t bang as a social media platform, we know. But when it comes to dreamy filters it has the strongest game around.

Achieving that much desired analogue camera aesthetic, these soft and understated presets are far less drastic than that of its photo app rivals. Taking from VSCO for Insta is probably a little shady… but we’re cool with that.


What’s your go-to for editing on the go? Bless your fellow creatives up!


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