Best Phone Editing App: VSCO vs Snapseed vs Polarr

Best Phone Editing App 2018 Comparison of VSCO, Snapseed & Polarr

If you’re looking for a great phone editing app, the choices may seem unlimited but when it really comes down to it, there are 3 phone editing apps that stand out as the best- VSCO, Snapseed and Polarr.

These three apps have been rated as the best phone editing apps between beginner and professional photographers on Instagram for years because they are free, easy to use and provide the highest quality results.

In the following, I will compare all three phone editing apps, their most-used features, what makes them good and pick one as the best phone editing app to use.

All of the images in this article were taken on my Sony a5100 camera and transferred to my phone for editing.


Most Editing Features Offered
Best Phone App For Color Editing
Best Phone App For Light Editing
Best Phone App For Selfies And Portraits
Best Phone App For Filters
Best Spot Removal Tool
Most Free Stuff Offered
Best Overall Editing App

Most Editing Features Offered

All three apps-Snapseed, VSCO, and Polarr come with amazing editing tools.

Best app for editing - VSCO
Editing Tools In VSCO

What I like about editing with VSCO is that it keeps things very simple. Along with some amazing filters VSCO offers 21 editing tools to enhance pictures. VSCO’s main purpose for users is to pick a filter and use these editing tools to fix it up. To get to know VSCO more, check out my complete tutorial on how to edit Instagram photos with VSCO app.

Best app for editing - Snapseed
Editing Tools In Snapseed

Snapseed, on the other hand, offers tons of editing tools available in a phone app. With Snapseed you can do anything from basic corrections to advanced editing. The main panel offers 28 different editing features but although the tool selection is quite large, not all of the tools offered are good.

Best app for editing - Polarr
Editing Tools In Polarr

Polarr comes with 24 editing features that offer everything you need to edit a photo. What I like about Polarr is that it offers many advanced editing tools that other apps don’t offer. Many of these tools do the same job as my professional Lightroom desktop version that I pay $10/month for.

Of all three apps, Snapseed has the most editing tools available.

Best Phone App For Color Editing

VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr come with various color editing features beyond the basic color correction features.

Best app for making edits - VSCO
Adding Purple Highlights Tint In VSCO

VSCO app comes with a cool feature that can add a color tint to the shadows (dark areas) and highlights (light areas) of the picture like a purple tint to the light sky in our example. But other than that, VSCO’s ability to edit color beyond using basic tools or filters is pretty limited.

Best app for making edits - Snapseed
Color Editing With Snapseed

Snapseed takes color editing a step further by offering Curves tool for color editing. With this tool, users can change Red, Green, and Blue color tones in the picture. The Curves tool is an advanced color editing tool that can create some pretty cool colorful looks by playing around with it.

Best app for making edits - Polarr
Color Editing With Polarr

Polarr provides users with basic and advanced color editing tools resembling those of professional editing software’s. From basic editing tools to advanced ones like Curves, HSL, and Toning, this app has anything you would need to create unique color looks and manipulate each color as you wish. And for that, Polarr takes the winning spot as the best phone app for making color edits.

Learning some of these advanced coloring tools in Polarr can be a bit confusing and challenging at first. I have covered Polarr ‘s best features in more detail here: 9 Tips To Edit Amazing Photos With Polarr.

Best Phone App For Light Editing

Fixing exposure and brightness in a photo is one of the most used features of a phone editing app. I tested all three apps to see how well they could brighten this very dark photo.

What is the best photoshop app for iphone
Results Of Brightening a Photo With VSCO

In VSCO I turned the Exposure to maximum brightness yet the photo barely looked any lighter. To me, this photo was still way too dark.

Best photo editing app for Android - Snapseed
Results Of Brightening a Photo With Snapseed

Next, I tested the same photo in Snapseed. I turned Brightness function to 100+ yet the photo still looked very dark.

Best app for professional photographers - Polarr
Results Of Brightening a Photo With Polarr

Then I tested the same photo in Polarr app. Polarr offers multiple tools to lighten a photo such as Exposure and Brightness. After increasing Exposure to 100 and adding a little bit of Brightness, the photo looked natural and light. From all three apps, Polarr is the best app to use to brighten and lighten photos.

Best Phone App For Selfies And Portraits

Next, I tested all three apps to find out which of them is the best phone editing app for selfies and portraits.

Best app for selfies - VSCO
Editing a Portrait In VSCO

I used a variety of VSCO tools to make this portrait lighter and remove some of the shadow areas. The only tool in VSCO geared towards selfies is the Skin Tone tool, but this tool is pretty limited when it comes to correcting skin tone color.  Overall I found VSCO’s ability to improve selfies very limited and editing this portrait in VSCO made it look washed out and flat.

Best App For Selfies - Snapseed
Editing a Portrait In Snapseed

Snapseed has integrated a few tools geared towards selfies like the Portrait Tool that can change skin smoothing, skin tone and lighten eyes. I edited the photo using several Snapseed tools from which my favorite was the Ambiance tool that added brightness and a bit of color to this portrait while maintaining detail in the photo.

Best app for selfies - Polarr
Editing a Portrait In Polarr

Next, I edited the same portrait in Polarr using Polarr’s Face Tool in combination with a couple other editing tools. Polarr’s face tool targets the face of the picture and can adjust various details like Skin Smoothing and Skin Tone. Overall the image retained high quality making Polarr the best app to use for selfies and portraits.

Best Phone App For Filters

Most phone app users don’t want to spend hours editing a photo and often want to use filters instead. Filters make editing easy and fun by experimenting with a variety of different looks.

Best app for filters - VSCO
Editing With M5 Filter In VSCO

VSCO has been my go-to app for filters for many years. When it comes to filters, VSCO always seems to be one step ahead of any other editing app by constantly releasing incredible filter styles. VSCO app has 184 filters with a variety of looks and styles.

Best app for filters - Snapseed
Editing With The Accentuate Look In Snapseed

Snapseed doesn’t have a filter section but it does offer 11 “Looks”. These looks give photos a very HDR look with high detail and saturation. While the HDR look may work on some photos, overall it doesn’t look that great on the majority of photos.

Best app for filters - Polarr
Editing With A Filter In Polarr

Polarr comes with 220 amazing filters that are some of the best I have seen in a phone app. Polarr filters add awesome color tones and effects to make photos look great.

From all three phone editing app, VSCO is the expert in filters but Polarr comes in close behind it in filter choices that it offers.

Best Spot Removal Tool

If you want to remove something from a photo, both Snapseed and Polarr come with spot removal tools that can do that.

Snapseed healing tool
Removing swimmers with Snapseed’s Healing Tool

For quick fixes, I personally love the Snapseed’s Healing Tool that can remove unwanted spots by tapping or swiping over them. With a quick tap, I was able to remove the unwanted swimmers in the background.

Polarr spot removal tool
Removing swimmer’s with Polarr’s Spot Removal Tool

Polarr also has a great Spot Removal tool but it’s a bit more advanced. With Polarr’s Spot Removal tool you need to specify which area to replace by dragging the spot removal circle over it. Then you need to specify which area to use for the cover-up along with a few other things.

Because Snapseed’s spot Healing Tool is much simpler than the Polarr’s version, it takes the lead in this category.

Want to learn more about Snapseed? Here is my post on 10 amazing Snapseed tricks to edit Instagram photos.

Most Free Stuff Offered

One of the most annoying parts of using a free app is dealing with the constant pop-ups and ads. Thankfully all three apps-VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr offer tons of free tools and filters without spamming their users with ads. Now we’ll check out which of these apps offers most free stuff before asking users to purchase anything.

how much is VSCO X
VSCO’s Preset Packages And VSCO X Membership

I love VSCO app, but the free stuff that VSCO offers is pretty limited. The app comes with a few basic free filters but if you want to have access to more VSCO filters, you’ll be required to purchase filter packets individually or pay $19.99 for it’s VSCO X membership. If you’re a fan of VSCO filters, you’re likely to spend those 20 bucks a year to have access to all of its filters.

Snapseed, on the other hand, is completely free. In the years that I have been using Snapseed, I have not seen an ad or been asked to purchase anything. Snapseed, now owned by Google, was acquired and integrated into Androids as a free editing option. The app is free to download on iPhones as well and iPhone users won’t be asked to pay anything for its use.

Polarr monthly subscription
Polarr Pro Membership

Polarr offers many free features but certain tools and filters are restricted for the Pro version. Overall half of Polarr’s tools and filters are free and half are locked and only accessible with the paid Pro version that costs $23.99/year.

Of all three apps, Snapseed is the only app that offers all of its features completely for free.

Best Overall Phone Editing App

VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr are all available for download for free for iPhones and Androids. All three apps come with amazing editing tools, but if you’re looking for the best phone editing app beyond their ability to add cool filters, Polarr and Snapseed are the best in their editing abilities. While Snapseed focuses on providing users with tons of editing tools, Polarr focuses on providing the best tools needed for editing. Polarr offers an amazing library of tools to enhance and edit photos just like you would with professional software. And for that, Polarr is the best editing app available for phones.

To learn more about these apps, see my detailed tutorials below:

Have you tried any of these apps? Let us know which one is your favorite in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Best Phone Editing App: VSCO vs Snapseed vs Polarr”

  1. Thank you for highlighting these top phone editing apps! VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr are indeed among the best options, catering to both beginners and professionals. Their user-friendly interfaces and impressive results make them essential for enhancing photos. For additional photo editing insights check out

  2. Appreciate the highlight on these top-notch phone editing apps! VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr truly stand out as some of the finest options, suitable for beginners and professionals alike. With their intuitive interfaces and remarkable results, they’re indispensable for photo enhancement. For further photo editing insights, visit

  3. Glad you found the recommendations helpful! VSCO, Snapseed, and Polarr truly stand out in the world of photo editing, offering versatility and quality results for users of all skill levels. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, their intuitive interfaces and powerful features make them indispensable tools for elevating your photos.

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