The 6 best photo-editing apps you need to download on your iPhone

March 23, 2020
Posted in Tech
March 23, 2020 Tumelo Moloi

The iPhone has improved a lot over the years, especially when it comes to the camera. 

Just look at the iPhone 11 Pro. That bad boy comes complete with a triple rear camera setup (each of which are 12-megapixels) and a telephoto lens. Your pictures have never looked better. 

But even though Apple has upped the ante in terms of hardware, it’s highly unlikely you’ll upload a picture to social media without slightly altering at least some part of it. 

Luckily, there are some great alternatives to settling for those basic Instagram filters or sticking to the built-in camera tools. Because every single one of us needs all the “likes” we can get. And because #nofilter is no longer a thing.

Here are six of the best iPhone photo-editing apps to download right now. 

Bye, Instagram filters. Hello, beautifully edited photos! 


Wonder if she's a VSCO Girl.
Wonder if she’s a VSCO Girl.
Ahhhh, a nice community that doesn't judge you for not getting enough "likes."
Ahhhh, a nice community that doesn’t judge you for not getting enough “likes.”

I’m not sure there will ever be a time when my mind doesn’t associate the word “VSCO” with the word “girls.” But behind the viral trend is a photo-editing app that’s a bit unique from the rest.

If you opt for the free version, you’ll have access to basic tools to edit RAW images — like contrast, saturation, texture, crop, and skew. There are also 10 different VSCO presets (also known as filters) to choose from.

If you’re willing to pay $20 per year, you’ll unlock the more advanced photo editor tools, like split tone and HSL. You can also use the app edit videos, create short GIFs, and use the Montage feature to piece together content to create video collages. 

Oh, and you’ll also have tons more presets to choose from, you photography pro. Like, over 200. So many options for your pictures!! 

When you’re done with your photo masterpiece, you can either export it to upload to different social media platforms or post it to the VSCO community. The best part: There are no “likes” or comments, so you won’t have to constantly refresh the post to see how it’s doing. 

Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of it.

2. Snapseed 

You've got plenty of photo filters to choose from.
You’ve got plenty of photo filters to choose from.
Look at allllll the tools to edit your photos.
Look at allllll the tools to edit your photos.

With Snapseed, in addition to different filters, there are tons of photo editing and adjustment tools, too.

Coming from someone who mostly edits only the brightness and saturation on her photos, I’ve never even heard of some of what the app offers, but that doesn’t mean these tools are useless. They’re just more on the level of professional photographer effects.

With over 30 edit tools and filters to choose from, you can use things like lens blur (for Bokeh), tune the exposure, boost shadows, adjust the white balance, and more.

It sounds intimidating, but the Snapseed app is super straightforward and easy to navigate for all your photography needs. And, for you newbies out there, there are plenty of photo editor tips and tutorials to read through to help you get the most out of the app.

3. Adobe Photoshop Express

Photoshop your pictures with a cool Bokeh effect.
Photoshop your pictures with a cool Bokeh effect.
Remove red eye from your photos, it's not welcome here.
Remove red eye from your photos, it’s not welcome here.

Photoshop Express is more like a “lite” version of the original photo-editing software, built specifically for your phone. It’ll set you back $9.99 per month.

You can use the Photoshop app to remove red-eye or noise, adjust contrast, or crop and straighten images. To enhance the photos, you can also adjust color temperature and vibrancy, or add filters. And then there’s the more fun stuff, like adding borders, texts, stickers, and texts to your images. You can literally create your own memes while you’re at it. 

If you have an abundance of snapshots, there’s a handy-dandy photo collage feature, too. 

4. Afterlight

How to make your photos look vintage? We got you.
How to make your photos look vintage? We got you.
Touch tools let you edit specific parts of each photo.
Touch tools let you edit specific parts of each photo.

While Afterlight offers tools that are similar to those of other photo-editor apps, its filters have more of an old-school feel. So, if you’re trying to give your photos that dark, grungy vibe, Afterlight is where you want to go. There are plenty of presets to choose from.

As for editing the details of your images, the app offers a wide range of tools, from basic ones like saturation and lightness to more intense capabilities like advanced curves, touch tools (which make it easier to alter particular parts of the photo), and double exposure.

One of the coolest features on the app are dust and light leaks overlays. Similar to the photo filters, they give the photos a vintage feel — almost as if the pictures were snapped on a film camera.

The app is free to download and use, but if you want access to all the features, you can choose to pay $2.99 for a monthly subscription or $17.99 per year in the app store.

5. Darkroom 

Customize your own photo filters if you're feeling really creative.
Customize your own photo filters if you’re feeling really creative.
Get those Portrait Mode photos lookin' right.
Get those Portrait Mode photos lookin’ right.

Like Snapseed, Darkroom comes with a packed library of advanced features for iPhone photography. This one has been specifically optimized for iOS, so you can do things like create Siri Shortcuts, edit Live Photos, and sync your Photo library.

It also supports RAW and large image files, up to 120-megapixels specifically, which means you can use it to edit photos you took on both your iPhone and DSLR. Batch processing also allows you to edit multiple images at once. Talk about multitasking!

Of course, you have a gallery of filters to choose from, along with the ability to create your own if those aren’t what you want. And, if you’re feeling really indecisive, Darkroom can pick out frames for you based on the colors featured in the photo.

While the basic photo-editor tools are free, it’ll cost you $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year to access the premium ones. Or, if you’re up for it, you can shell out a one-time fee of $49.99.


Preview how your images will look before potentially ruining your grid aesthetic.
Preview how your images will look before potentially ruining your grid aesthetic.
You can also edit it and drop it back on the grid to preview.
You can also edit it and drop it back on the grid to preview.

UNUM is essentially a one-stop shop for all things photo editing and planning on Instagram. It helps make sure your account is getting all the engagement. 

The app allows you to edit your photos (with filters, templates, presets, and more) and  simultaneously preview how it will look on your grid. You have the option to link to your own Instagram account or use a blank grid.

When you’re ready to post, there’s an analytics tool to help gauge the best hashtags to use, the most optimal time to post (which we all know is verycrucial). And, to make sure you don’t miss that prime posting time, you can set reminders or schedule your very well-crafted IG post.

It will cost you for the full suite of features, though. Head to the app store, and you can opt for the Elite plan for $6.99 per month, or pay $59.99 for the entire year.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for the basic functionalities or the more advanced photo-editor tools, one of these apps will surely make your picture pop in your friends’ Instagram feed. 


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