How To: 8 Free Must-Have Photo Apps for iPhone

8 Free Must-Have Photo Apps for iPhone

The stock Camera and Photos apps are great for taking basic pictures and doing some quick edits, but if you're serious about making your iPhone photos the best they can be, you can't stop there.

The iOS App Store is filled with tons of great third-party alternatives with advanced functions and unique features, and the options below are our favorite free photography apps you can get right now. There's something for everyone, whether you're a photography pro, want better selfies, need more filters, or just want to improve your post-processing skills.


VSCO (previously VSCO Cam) doubles as a standalone camera app and social networking tool for photographers. The interface offers features like separate focus, white balance lock, and the option to adjust the shutter speed, which makes it easy to capture that perfect shot. Also, your images will be saved in high-res, uncompressed quality.

For some inspiration (or motivation), take a look at what other photographers have created using the "Explore" function (the globe icon in the bottom left).

When it comes to editing, VSCO has basic filters ready to use, and there are additional preset packs in the "Shop" that are available for free, as well as some paid ones. You can also adjust exposure, contrast, angles, perspective, crop, clarity, sharpness, saturation, highlights, shadows, temperature, tint, and skin tone, as well as add grain, fades, and vignettes. You can also easily see all of your adjustments with the list icon.

When you're done adjusting an image, tap and hold on it while in the editor to quickly compare the edited version to the original.

2. Obscura Camera

If you can do without the additional editing options and just want a dedicated Camera app replacement, consider using Obscura Camera. This app offers tools that help perfect your image before you even tap the shutter button.

Before you take a picture, you can use any of the nine built-in live filters (more are available for purchase), and you can tweak the shutter and exposure manually, set the white balance, lock the exposure and focus, level the frame out, and more. While it sounds like a lot, the app makes it simple with its easy-to-use, minimalistic interface, and there's a walkthrough available if you get lost.

3. Snapseed

Purchased by Google in 2012, Snapseed is an efficient photo-editing app that makes it simple to adjust your images using basic gestures. With all of the tools available, It can seem overwhelming at first, but Snapseed focuses on making the editing process quick and easy while also offering professional quality results beyond your stock Photos editor.

Using the transform tool, you can adjust the perspective across the vertical or horizontal axes, and the app will automatically fill in the empty areas after rotation. Another unique feature is the selective adjustment, which allows you to make adjustments to specific areas using Nik Software's revolutionary U Point technology.

Additionally, you can adjust brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation, shadows, highlights, warmth, structure, sharpening, crop, and rotation. There are also brushes for dodge and burn, exposure, temperature, and saturation, so you can concentrate your efforts to a portion of the image. Plus, there's tons of filters (like Lens Blur and HDR Scape), and a healing and vignette tool.

4. Color Pop Effects

Offering you more than just filters and basic editing tools, Color Pop Effects is a unique photo editor that enables you to single out particular colors within your pictures.

To make the editing process easy and precise, the app offers a zooming feature that allows you to really define the borders of your colored selection, as well as the ability to adjust the brush size to get in those difficult-to-reach areas.

While you'll need an in-app purchase to recolor items ($2.99) or remove ads ($1.99)—which are two separate purchases—the free version will definitely make your pictures pop with contrasting blacks and whites and vibrant colors that you can highlight.

5. SelfieX

The front-facing camera just doesn't cut it when it comes to taking a good selfie, so to take high-resolution selfies with the rear iSight camera on your iPhone, use SelfieX.

With a virtual assistant providing you with guidance in order to perfectly position the camera, SelfieX will also automatically snap a picture for you, making the entire process much more manageable. Check the guide below for more information on what SelfieX has to offer.

6. CamMe

Some people prefer full body shots when taking selfies. This typically requires using a mirror, which can come out tacky as hell. To avoid taking pictures in your bathroom, try CamMe.

This app uses simple hand gestures to initiate a countdown and take pictures, which will allow you to step back for body shots or include more people within your group shots. For more info, see my guide below.

7. Google Photos

Offering free, unlimited, high-quality storage for all your photos and videos, Google Photos is a great alternative to your stock Photos app. Although Apple does offer free iCloud storage, you're capped at 5 GB before requiring you to upgrade for additional space.

In addition to the ample storage space offered, the app also makes locating a particular photo extremely simple using pinch gestures and an intuitive search function, which automatically separates faces, places, or "things" (dogs, posters, food, cars, etc.) among the horde of images you have, which is a feature iOS is lacking.

Images exceeding 75 MB or 100 megapixels will only be stored locally, which is made apparent by a cloud-crossed-out icon found on the image thumbnail.

8. Facebook Moments

Moments may not become your go-to gallery app, but it is a convenient way to share and receive photos with Facebook friends without having to text, message, or email them.

After granting full access to your photos, "moments" will be compiled together. Once your moments are created, suggestions on who you would like to share them with will be made depending on the individuals identified within the pictures.

The aim of Moments is to help you and your friends exchange photos that you would otherwise have missed out on if you did not take them yourself.

While these apps will definitely help make life easier on your iPhone, you still may need to improve your mobile photography skills, so check out our guide on that if you need it.

Additional photo apps we recommend checking out include Instagram, Litely, Brushstroke, Flickr, Steller, LetterGlow, Circular, Over, Repix, Afterlight, and Camera+. If we missed any of your favorite photography apps, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover image via AshtonPal/Flickr

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