The old saying that the best camera you have is the one you always carry with you is more true today than ever. Almost everyone packing a modern smartphone has a fantastic camera at hand that can shoot publishable photos and videos in a snap. The best smartphone cameras are aided only by the vast abundance of great photo apps available on the Android platform.
That may come as a surprise for some, as the iPhone has traditionally reigned supreme for its photographic prowess and excellent apps. But in recent years, Android apps have substantially caught up, offering many of the same advanced tools and features for shooting and editing photos and videos. Today, as you navigate the vast abundance of photo apps on the Google Play Store, we guide you toward the best ones for your Android phone.
Instagram is one of the world’s most popular photo apps and photo-sharing social network in existence, which is no surprise as it’s owned by Facebook. With access to a host of creative tools and filters, Instagram lets you control the look and feel of your photos. You can also cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr — or save the image back to your camera roll to share on other services. Aside from snapping and sending snazzy pics, Instagram users can follow their friends’ accounts, celebrities, and various groups and organizations.
VSCO Cam (free trial/$20 per year)
VSCO bills itself as a social media-themed camera app, but eschews the pressure of likes and comments. It concentrates on providing photographers a great outlet to share and inspire. The app boasts a unique processing technology that promises dazzling, film-like results. With a wide range of presets and photo-altering tools, anybody can turn mundane landscape shots into stunning images. When editing photos, even in raw format, a simple tap of the phone’s screen changes the viewer’s perspective between the original shot and the edited final product, for easy comparisons. After editing, users have the option to share photos across a number of popular social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and VSCO Journal. This photo app has captured the imagination of a set group of users — who call themselves VSCO Girls — in a spontaneous movement of young women with a particular style and identity that the company has no part in.
When someone says mobile video editor, you say Snapseed. The once ubiquitous and powerful camera app offers pro-level editing tools and a massive number of editing options, making it easy for any amateur to produce an image they can be proud of. Snapseed gives users ultimate control over their images by including a host of sliders capable of altering a photo’s vignette, blur, temperature, and other attributes. The app also satisfies fans of the vintage look by providing the option to apply grainy overlays, 1960s-style film reel effects, or its unique Retrolux filter. Snapseed also lets you stack effects on any photo, similar to layers in Photoshop, making it easy to produce a new result each time you edit a photo.
Open Camera (free)
Use Open Camera alongside or in place of your default camera app. With multiple focus modes, color effects, white balance, and exposure compensation, Open Camera handles the most important aspects of your composition. The overlay grid can aid in balancing photo dimensions, allowing you to channel your inner Ansel Adams when implementing the rule of thirds. Snap photos either by touch or remotely via voice commands. Just say “cheese” and you’ll have a hands-free selfie in no time. New versions of the app include aperture control on supported devices, flash for manual ISO and exposure, additional custom video profiles, and some interface tweaks.
Autodesk’s Pixlr photo editor keeps its interface clean and clear of intrusive ads or clickbait. Instead, you get a seamless editing experience that helps you focus solely on what matters most — the photos. Pixlr touts hundreds of effects, stickers, frames, powerful editing tools, and several collage options that support absolute creative freedom. The app even provides a Favorites button to create presets and save them easily in the app’s settings. You can also share photos to social media, Messenger, and other apps directly from the Pixlr app.
Cupslice Photo Editor (free)
Easy to use and learn, Cupslice Photo Editor is perfect for novices. With a long list of available effects, tools, and photo configurations, this app makes it a breeze to turn ordinary photos into stunningly beautiful images. Cupslice allows users to upload any completed photo to a host of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as to chat applications like WhatsApp and Line. Photo editing apps don’t get much more accessible than Cupslice’s impressive offering.
Prisma may be a one-trick pony, but it does that trick really well. Using A.I. styles, Prisma transforms your photos into faux pieces of art that mimic the classic works of Munch, Picasso, Mondrian, and Van Gogh, among others. So you want to upgrade that blasé breakfast pic into a regular Lichtenstein? Simply apply the Prisma style and you’re set to rule social media. Don’t care for the Prisma logo at the bottom of your photos? No problem. You can easily turn these watermarks off in the app’s settings menu.
Cymera Camera (free)
Cymera is one of the most popular photography apps in the Google Play Store. The app lets you apply handwritten messages and drawings directly to your photos, much like Snapchat and Photo Editor. You can also accessorize your photos with stickers, masks, lighting effects, and various framing options. With more than 100 different filters to choose from, even the most obsessive selfie enthusiasts shouldn’t have too much trouble committing to just one. While these are all handy tools, Cymera’s best — if perhaps controversial — function is its ability to shape your body. The app makes it easy to cover up blotchy skin, pimples, and other undesirable blemishes. You can even slim and stretch your body. With Cymera, you’ll be doctoring your photos like a Kardashian in no time. Who needs #TransformationTuesday when editing away our flaws is this easy?
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ($10 per month)
Adobe’s software has long been considered the image-editing gold standard, and its Lightroom application for Android is a good example. You can edit photos taken with an Android smartphone, in addition to any RAW or DNG images or photos saved to the Lightroom desktop app. Adobe provides a plethora of effects, filters, and tools, making this a worthy companion for any advanced photographer. Because it’s based in the cloud, you can start a project on your phone and finish it on the web, tablet, or desktop. Unlike other photo editors, you can also upload photo presets to expand the app’s capabilities. It requires you to purchase Adobe’s Photographer’s plan ($10 per month), which gives you both Adobe Lightroom Classic for the desktop and the mobile version of Adobe Lightroom.
Adobe Photoshop Express (free)
We’re all about an Adobe editing app for photos that doesn’t have a mandatory subscription. With Adobe Photoshop Express, users can access Adobe’s impressive library of editing features, including Adobe’s image rendering engine, one-touch filters, and blemish removal.
The most recent batch of updates come with the shoot and process raw images directly from your Android device, meaning you can enjoy the full range of your phone’s advanced optics.
The app offers a selection of in-app purchases, too, which let you access saved albums and offer advanced editing features and additional image filters and effects. New versions give you complete control over the watermark’s size on your images, enhanced vignette with precise control of roundness and feather, and new looks and text styles.
Polarr Photo Editor (free)
In terms of Android, Polarr is one of the most comprehensive photo-editing apps around. You can enjoy the typical adjustment features such as color balance, contrast, and exposure while also saving those edits as customized presets.
Although it has plenty of advanced features, Polarr still accommodates amateurs—you’ll find plenty of handy tutorials to help you get started. Other perks include brushes for face retouching and interesting effects that pixelate your photo or make it grainy.
These days, almost any photo editor will have at least one black-and-white option, but you don’t often come by one that dedicates itself to monochrome. This app is ideal for users who want an app that nods its hat at the past’s old dark rooms.
You won’t get any color at all if you take photos or export them from Hypocam, including the live view display. One feature we like is the integrated newsfeed, which enables you to check out other user’s work and view the latest uploads—a sort of virtual black-and-white art gallery, if you will.
- The best camera apps for the iPhone
- The best RAW photography apps for Android and iOS
- The best photo-editing apps for Android and iOS
- The best Adobe Lightroom alternatives for 2021
- The best Photoshop alternatives for 2021