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  • Shanne Gan

Photo Editing Apps On your Smartphone

If you are a complete beginner at photo-editing, the process of deciding on which app to even use may seem daunting. However, whether it's for your Instagram feed or an extra touch for a graded assignment, knowing how to make your photos look better than they already do is always a good skill to have. That’s why we here at CNMTypes have put together a review of four popular photo editing apps to make your photo editing journey less stressful. Read on to find out more!


Free on the App Store and Google Play

Offers In-App Purchases

Lightroom Mobile is probably one of the most used photo editing apps right now. Popular among both professionals and amateurs, the app is easy to use once you get the hang of it. There are many different tools that you can apply to customize your photos exactly how you want them. For example, if you want more light in your photo but you’ve already played with the exposure setting, you can also manipulate the “Whites” and “Blacks” tabs to create a brighter photo.

Choose from a wide range of settings and tools available on Lightroom.

What’s Unique: Once you have created your own unique set of settings, you can just create your very own preset and apply them to each of your photos with one simple click. The number of presets you can have are endless, so get creative and design as many as you want. If you’re not exactly adept at doing so or don't have the time, you can find some ready-made presets online. While the quality ones are usually sold at a price, you may also find some that are available for free.

Create your own presets and add them to your collection for easy editing.

Downsides: While Lightroom Mobile is free, there are certain features that are unavailable unless you subscribe to Lightroom Premium. These include helpful features such as the ability to edit RAW files, or having access to repair tools in the app. Here’s a pro-tip: While it may not be as convenient, you will also be able to access the same premium repair tools by downloading the app Photoshop Fix separately. You will have to use two different apps, but in my opinion, it’s worth the money saved.


Free on the App Store and Google Play

Offers In-App Purchases

I’m sure everyone’s heard of VSCO before. It is the go-to app for beginners at photo editing given its user-friendly interface and also the fact that it is wallet friendly. The editing tools, while not as in-depth as other more professional editing apps, are plenty for beginners who just like to edit their photos for fun. The free app also comes with a collection of ready-to-use filters that you can apply to your photos.

Choose from a wide range of free presets available on VSCO.

What’s Unique: VSCO is also a social platform of sorts. Users can follow each other and gain access to each other’s VSCO photos – something similar to Instagram where you can like each other’s photos and even send messages to your friends. Another cool function that I recently found out about VSCO is its in-app camera. When you click on VSCO’s in-app camera, there’s another option for its DSCO camera. The DSCO camera allows you to take videos that are later converted into GIFs. When using the DSCO camera, you can also choose to apply different filters and edit your videos/GIFs anyway you like.

Click on the DSCO tab to create your very own GIFs.

Downsides: Similar to most free photo editing apps, there are many premium features that are not accessible unless you subscribe to the premium membership. For VSCO, the membership is called VSCO X. For a premium of $29.98 a year, you’ll enjoy access to exclusive presets, video editing, as well as educational tutorials on how to use the tools available.


Free on the App Store and Google Play

Snapseed is your go-to if you want an easy to access app on your smartphone that also gives you the ability to edit your photos professionally. The editing tools available are top-notch and extensive considering how the app is completely free. Compared to the other apps in this article, Snapseed boasts an array of editing tools that these other apps do not include, such as curves adjustment and healing tools.

Use curves to get more detail in your editing.

What’s Unique: Many have coined Snapseed the “pocket” version of Photoshop due to its wide range of editing tools that make it stand out from its other smartphone photo-editing competitors. While the other apps focus more on basic camera effects, Snapseed gives you the ability to professionally edit and fine-tune your photos. My favorite feature on the app is the “Stacks” feature to tweak the different changes you’ve applied individually. You can also use the brushes available in “Stacks” to edit specific areas in your photo – e.g. choosing to turn a certain area in the photo black and white while leaving the rest in color.

Make use of the brushes for different tools to apply your edits to

the desired areas of the photo.

Downsides: Personally, I feel that Snapseed isn’t the most user-friendly app for beginners due to the level of control it affords users. It doesn’t come with a detailed tutorial on every tool available, so that means you’ll either have to spend some time watching tutorials on YouTube or try experimenting with it yourself. Someone familiar with professional photography and editing would definitely catch on easier as compared to someone who is only familiar with the basics of editing.


Free on the App Store and Google Play

Offers In-App Purchases

Apple users are able to download the updated version of Afterlight named “Afterlight 2”, which boasts extra tools aside from the ones in the original version. Unfortunately, Android users currently only have access to the original version. Apart from the basic editing tools such as brightness, cropping, and rotating, Afterlight also has a “Type” section. This allows you to add and customize different frames to your photos so that you can unlock your inner creativity.

Afterlight's Text section allows you to get creative with different

artwork and fonts to choose from.

What’s Unique: Apart from its unique presets, Afterlight is perhaps most known for its dust overlays and light leaks. Right when the trend of vintage photos kicked in, Afterlight was one of the first apps to offer such tools for free. With the app, you can choose from various dust and light leak designs and even control the intensity of the filters. Apart from these two effects, the app also offers a third film effect that’s available for an extra $0.99. Otherwise, you may also consider subscribing to a monthly or yearly membership to gain access to all features.

On Afterlight, not only can you choose from many different overlay designs,

you can even customise them down to the colors of the light leaks.

Downsides: This app was most popular in 2013/2014 when there weren’t as many photo editing app options as compared to today. Hence, it is currently not ranked as highly as the other more comprehensive apps mentioned in this article. That being said, many still choose to use it for its simple interface and creative tools available. After all, there is a reason why it received so much hype back in 2014.

That’s all from me! If you’re a beginner, hopefully you now have a clearer idea of which photo-editing app to start with and how to go about doing so. If you’ve already tried out some of these apps, maybe you’ve learnt some new tips you didn’t know before. If I’ve missed out anything interesting, do feel free to leave a comment below and let me know! All the best in your photo-editing journey!

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May 30

In the digital age, how can you make your photos stand out on social media? Websites like and the PicsArt app offer the perfect tools for creating stunning photo effects and frames. Have you tried them yet?

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