The venerated Snapseed is a long-standing favorite among iPhone photographers, even though it’s owned by Google. When Apple’s rival bought the young editing app years ago, they nixed the $4.99 price tag and integrated Snapseed into their G+ Suite – so if you’re a Google user who’s either cheating on Apple or actually using Android and just reading this article about iPhones because most of these apps are actually platform agnostic, you should download Snapseed immediately, because it’s that much more convenient.
Snapseed is a simple editor that reaches beyond simple filters, which is what makes it attractive to serious photographers. Users can make selective adjustments, control curves and tweak brightness, contrast and saturation.
Another notable free photo editing app, Pixlr, offers far less and is a largely simpler product. Polarr is another strong competitor, but it comes with a monthly subscription fee of $2.99. With Snapseed, you get value for free. (Insofar as selling yourself to Google is free, anyway.)
All that said, Snapseed’s simplicity also determines its second-place finish to Darkoom, in our opinion. Snapseed is a very good app, but we recommend it more for preset edits and simple adjustments. Darkroom’s depth is ideal for photographers who prefer to manually edit their images with more precision. Because both apps are relatively lightweight, there’s no reason you can’t try both.
But What About Photoshop?
We believe both apps’ common competitor, Photoshop Express, is a frankly worse product for a few reasons.
Adobe’s app lacks a number of impressive and useful tools that Snapseed offers, such as HDR, curves and selective adjustment. Photoshop is also a much larger app, at over 170 MB; Darkroom and Snapseed are both natively less than 100 MB. It’s not a huge difference, but the app does feel more sluggish.
In the filter department, Photoshop also falls behind, offering fewer presets than its competitors and no tilt-shift option (which Snapseed does). If your goal is to edit quickly and simply, Snapseed wins; if your goal is more depth, Darkroom wins.
However, just because Adobe Photoshop Express isn’t worth the effort, doesn’t mean no Adobe product is.