Photo editing on smartphone

Photo by Le Buzz Studio on Unsplash

The 21st century is pretty much synonymous with the art of instantaneous picture-taking. Whether you’re snapping photos of an amazing adventure on the other side of the planet, or capturing the very first moments of life, you’re going to want to use the best photo editing apps possible to remember these unforgettable moments and artistically enhance every photo you take.

Taking photos isn’t just fun. A recent study finds that taking pictures of our surroundings actually helps to enhance our visual memory of experiences. In fact, the study found that having a camera with you (for many of us, a mobile device) — even if you didn’t take any photos — boosts a person’s memory of an event.

While regular photo taking and sharing is sometimes perceived as a negative thing, some research indicates otherwise. Researchers from Lancaster University and the University of Sheffield reports that snapping a daily picture and then sharing it online offers “complex benefits” that improve one’s well-being. The study found that participants’ well-being improved through self-care, interaction with others, the potential for reminiscence, and/or simply taking time to look around and seek out something unique for the picture — a practice likened to mindfulness, in a sense.

Let’s not also forget the popularity of food photos on Instagram. One survey reports that a third of social media users have bought items on a menu not to eat them — but just to be able to snap a pic and post it online!

Taking up photography seems to point in the direction of overall well-being, and having the best quality photos to remember these slices of life can make these moments even more special. While photo-editing can be intimidating, especially for those who are just getting started, having access to all your artistic needs through apps can make the process a lot more seamless. So, StudyFinds turned to the experts and identified the five best photo editing apps to perfect your latest pictures. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which photography apps were rated the highest. Let us know if missed your go-to app in the comments below!

The List: Best Photo Editing Apps, According to Experts

1. Adobe Lightroom

If you’re looking for professional level editing from wherever you are, Adobe Lightroom tops the list as one of the best photo editing apps available due to its simple layout, extensive features, and quick adjustments. 

Adobe Lightroom app
Adobe Lightroom app (

“Lightroom syncs with your photo library, removing waiting for frustrating shot imports. This makes editing on the go easy. Even if you stick with the free version, the range of tools makes Lightroom worth downloading. It is simple to navigate, easy to master, and wonderfully efficient,” writes Expert Photography.

The standard version of the app allows you to retouch and crop, in addition to simple sliders which allow color adjustments and visual effects. “Lightroom Mobile is a great learning platform. Its ever-growing library of interactive tutorials will teach you to edit your images like a pro. And that’s good, because the feature set is quite deep, with dozens of tools to work with exposure, color, selective edit, filters and such,” adds Tom’s Guide.

PC Mag also loves this app: “The mobile app offers deep post-shot editing, as well as a camera feature that lets you shoot in raw format on the iPhone (Android can do so with its native camera) which gives you more leeway in correcting exposure, white balance, and other aspects of your images.”

2. Snapseed

Snapseed is a gamechanger in the world of photo editing, with photographers praising the app for its user-friendly interface, minimalistic approach and powerful editing tools. “One of the original innovators among mobile photo editing apps, Snapseed became part of Google’s portfolio in 2012. The app uses a unique interface in which you swipe your finger left or right to make an adjustment, or up and down to choose which adjustment you’re making,” says PC Mag.

Snapseed App
Snapseed App (

All the editing tools are easily accessible with a single tap, allowing users to take photos directly or use photos from their libraries. The app’s tutorials make it easy to enhance your editing skills. “And there’s no shortage of features; tools range from white balance to perspective control to HDR enhancement to lens blur. Best of all, because this is a Google product, you’re not harassed with in-app ads or upgrade notices,” writes Business Insider.

According to Tom’s Guide, “For detail-oriented photographers, Snapseed can be not only fun but also addictive. We enjoyed just wandering through its range of exposure, color, masking and reshaping tools, brushes, and filters as we experimented with different settings. Because the editing is nondestructive, you can always go into the Stack (the layers of edits) and adjust or eliminate any edit (including correcting misspelled text). ”

3. Afterlight

Afterlight is a top choice for photo editing at your fingertips and well-loved for its high-quality filters, real film textures and precise editing tools. “It has all the basic features you would expect, including tools to adjust the exposure, hue/saturation, contrast, and tone. And the options to add and customize text are vast. Plus, there are more than 20 advanced tools to choose from, including unique curves, selective hue, grain, and many more,” writes Oberlo.

Afterlight's selection of filters
Afterlight’s selection of filters (

The app features adjustment tools controlled by touch gestures, as well as advanced curves, saturation, overlays and more. “Afterlight offers an outstanding balance between precision and simplicity. You’ll find a great selection of editing options within the app, including touch tools. These allow for more precise editing,” adds Expert Photography. “The app features a growing collection of preset filters. You’ll find mobile guest photographers and different themes within the filter library.”

Mistake makers don’t have to fear with Afterlight: “In addition to multiple levels of undo and redo, you can use the history screen to rollback your image to a specific stage. Or, you can use the layers screen to select, edit or delete a particular edit,” points out Tom’s Guide.

4. Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop has been known and loved for years, but its express app is an all-around top pick for photo editing on mobile devices due to its fast and easy picture editor for one-touch transformations and photo edits. “Photoshop Express is the more consumer-friendly iteration of the world’s most popular photo editing software, and Express for iPhone and Android has nearly every feature imaginable — this might be the only app you need,” mentions Business Insider

Adobe Express apps editing software
Adobe Express apps editing software (

The software includes 45 effects as well as different categories like Black and White, Portrait, Nature, Pop Color, and Duo Tones help to get you the right effect to apply. “Photoshop Express has control tools like crop, straighten, rotate, flip, color, red eye removal, hue, brightness and white balance. And Photoshop Express also has filters like Vibrant, Superpunch and Glow. Plus you can add borders and frames to the photos,” adds Forbes.

According to PC Mag, “The most recent update added skin smoothing, content-aware healing, face-aware liquify, and a caricature filter to join the app‘s plentiful selection of effect filters.”

5. Pixlr

Pixlr is a great pick for casual photographers looking to enhance their images with Canva-style templates, colorful overlays, and a good selection of collage layouts. “Pixlr offers a solid assortment of photo editing tools for free, including crop, rotate, color and brightness adjustments, along with special effects like selective blur and spot color. There are also a variety of page templates and collages where you can drop and arrange photos,” Business Insider.

Pixlr designs
Pixlr designs (

The app allows you to choose from a range of effect packs to give your image the look and feel you want, like amplifying the tone, cooling it down, or adding surreal shades. “Photos can be stylized with pencil drawings and ink sketches. To enhance selfies, you can remove blemishes, red eyes and whiten teeth. And you can add captions and overlay photos with text,” adds Forbes.

Take it from Tom’s Guide: “Pixlr is one of the best photo editing apps for the casual photographer who wants to do just a bit of fine-tuning, perhaps add some neat effects and then share on whatever social networks are on their phone. The intuitive interface is easy to master, so you can get right into the fun of playing with your pictures.”

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Meaghan Babaker

Meaghan Babaker is a journalist and freelance writer previously based out of New York City while working for CBS New York, CBS Local and MSNBC. After moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 2016, she went on to write for Digital Luxury Group, The Travel Corporation and other international publications before joining the editorial team at StudyFinds.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor