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What is the most complete photo editor for Android?

23 mayo, 2021

The camera has become one of the most valued elements in a mobile and the quality achieved by the leading models manages to match and sometimes even exceed what some compact ones offer us, hence why many users use the mobile as a pocket camera on a regular basis.

But there is not the thing. In addition to shooting photos, we can also edit them. Most smartphones have large enough screens so that we can easily modify images and there are more and more applications to improve our photos, from the most basic to the most complete. We are looking for the best photo editors for Android.

Instagram filters

A few years ago, if we wanted to edit an image we had to resort to a desktop program, but today things have changed and there are countless mobile apps that rival some of the image editors that we used to install on our computers.

Adobe Photoshop remains the king of retouching programs alongside Lightroom, the favorite of many professional photographers. Although both have mobile versions that we will analyze later, it is true that for more professional editions you have to resort to the computer, but do not underestimate what we can do with our mobiles.

The basic user will find great allies in the predefined filters that we can apply in practically any image editing app, but there is also room for those looking for more personalized effects with the various editing tools available.

What do we ask of an image editor?

In my case, when it comes to retouching images, I usually resort directly to Photoshop, so I consider myself quite demanding in this regard. I am clear that a mobile app has limitations, both at the level of screen size and handling – for example, it will not allow me to make complex selections or handle the clone buffer at the same level as on the computer. However, there are more and more complete tools that offer very interesting solutions for the mobile universe.

Google Play is a bottomless pit and image editors are one of the broadest and most sought-after categories in the entire app store, so before we start looking we are going to mark some of the requirements we ask of an image editor.

  • Exposure control: an essential tool that we will use in practically any edition, although not all mobile editors solve it equally well.
  • Adjust brightness: Due to their similarity, many mobile editors unify exposure and brightness as the same tool, although in more advanced editors they do not have the same effect.
  • Adjust contrast: Another key point in image editing that defines the separation between the light and shadow areas of an image. In other words, it allows you to dim or highlight the image.
  • Independent control of lights and shadows: It is not an option present in all editors, but it can be very useful since it allows more control over the contrast.
  • Color adjustment: another basic in any image editor. Most offer a saturation control to define the intensity of the image’s nuances, but there are also other apps that divide the color adjustment into more options such as hue or intensity and even some more advanced functions such as modifying tones separately.
  • Color temperature: is a concept linked to white balance and can be very practical to adjust color casts present in the light. However, in many cases we find less technical tools such as “warmth”.
  • Adjust frame: it is one of the first edits that we apply to an image either to cut out a portion, straighten it by rotating it sideways or even reflect it.
  • Reduce noise: The annoying noise effect usually appears when taking photos in low light conditions, hence a function to minimize it can be very useful in some images.
  • Focus: Increasing the sharpness is another classic in image editing, although you have to be careful and not go overboard so that the effect does not end up spoiling the image.
  • File size / resolutionWhile almost all desktop editing programs allow us to adjust the size and resolution of images, it is not such a common option in mobile editors, but it is still a necessary feature.
  • RAW editor: more and more mobiles offer the possibility of shooting RAW images and being able to edit them directly on the device is important to take advantage of this improvement.
  • One-off editing: It is not so common in mobile apps, but point editing is one of the most used aspects in programs like Photoshop. It can be very useful to for example remove redness from the skin, remove elements or simply apply exposure or color adjustments in isolated areas without affecting the entire image.
  • FiltersFilters can be good allies for quick touch-ups, although they should be used sparingly.
  • Effects edit: the effects range from blurring the background, through textures, frames, texts or stickers. They are not an essential aspect in editing, but they are very popular when it comes to sharing images on social networks.
  • Integrated camera: Most image editing apps integrate it, but some dispense with the integrated camera and although it is not an essential option (we can take the photo with the native camera app and then open it with the editor), it never hurts to have it all In the same place.
  • Intuitive handling: last but not least, that the interface is well organized and allows us easy access to all the tools is essential for a good user experience, especially on touch devices.

Our selection of candidates

As I said, the offer of photo editors on Google Play is huge and making a selection is not an easy task, especially since there are notable differences between the different proposals available. There are apps more designed to use filters and effects, others more professional that include an infinite number of editing parameters and others that offer only the basic tools for quick retouching.

However, the fact that an image editing app is the most complete in terms of tools does not make it the best. There is a majority of users who are looking for more balanced applications that allow them edit your photos without taking a photography course and in that range is where we find the most practical options, always without forgetting options designed for more specific scenarios.

In this sense, the objective of this selection is not to find a definitive winner but rather a variety of apps among which each user can find the solution that best suits their needs. These are our candidates:

Adobe Photoshop Express

We said that Adobe Photoshop is the image editor par excellence and its version for mobile phones is one of the options to consider when retouching photos on mobile or tablet, especially if like me you are familiar with its interface since it bears a certain resemblance (although logically it is much more simplified).

Photoshop Express 01 Sections available in Photoshop Express

In Adobe Photoshop Express you will find several sections that collect different editing tools, starting with its collection of filters with which to apply quick touch-ups to images. The next section allows you to adjust the frame by rotating, reflecting or cropping the photo, while in Corrections you will find enough options to be able to adjust the parameters to your liking, including some not very common such as reducing noise, erasing haze.

The truth is Photoshop Express offers a pretty good fit in parameters such as lighting or focus and it also has a tool to eliminate red eyes, although it is not too useful since the LED flash of mobile phones does not usually generate this effect.

Photoshop Express Spot correction example

It also has a section to add frames and vignetting effects to the edges and finally an option to retouch specific areas. For example, in the selected photo I have used it to eliminate one of the rocks that appear in the farthest area and the result is quite good. It can also be useful for removing skin tags in portraits.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop ExpressVaries by device

Adobe Lightroom

As I said above, Lightroom is one of the favorite image retouching tools of professional photographers and its mobile application is one of the most complete that you will find in Google Play.

Its strong point, in addition to its exhaustive editing tools, is its ability to manage image collections, allowing not only to copy edits from some photos to others, but also to add tags and even to classify the images. It also has the option to synchronize with Adobe Creative Cloud, so you can access your collection of images from anywhere.

However, its main advantage is also a problem, since in inexperienced hands its full potential is not squeezed and there are areas that can be somewhat complex to handle if you are not familiar with more advanced editing tools.

Lightroom 01 Lightroom presets

However, if you are looking for a faster edition, Lightroom is also a practical app since it has a wide range of presets (‘presets’ for friends) with which to give a different touch to your photos in just one click. It includes creative effects that mimic analog development processes, various black and white options, vignetting and grain effects, among others.

Speaking of presets, Lightroom has a built-in camera that allows you to use these settings and choose the white balance settings to shoot the image directly with the desired effect.

Lightroom Lightroom adjustments: tone curve, vignetting, split tones and selective color correction

But if what you want is control every detail of the image at an almost professional level, including if it is a photograph in RAW format, Lightroom is without a doubt the application you were looking for. Within the settings section there is a complete collection of more professional settings that allow much more exhaustive control over aspects such as exposure or tones.

For example, it allows us to adjust the lighting through a tone curve that divides the options between highlights, light, dark and shadows, in contrast to most apps that reduce it to a single exposure parameter. The color options also offer very detailed control, allowing us to adjust each …