A filter app is a great way to quickly enhance your iPhone photos. But which is the best filter app for your photography? In this article, we compare the top 10 photo filter apps for iPhone. You’ll discover filters that boost colors, convert to black and white, add a vintage look, and apply artistic textures to your images. Whatever your photo editing style, you’ll find the perfect filter app for you.
Popular photo filter app with subtle film-inspired presets:
- One-tap filters with adjustable intensity
- Subtle color and B&W presets add a classic film look to your photos
- Editing tools for cropping, exposure, color, grain, fade, and more
- Built-in camera and photo-sharing community
- Price: Free (with a subscription fee for additional filters and tools)
VSCO (pronounced visco) is one of the best photo filter apps for beautiful, understated edits.
Many apps contain garish and overpowering filters, but VSCO filters are more subtle.
The filters in VSCO are called “presets.” Each preset makes your photo look like you shot it with a film camera.
The app has a wide range of color and black and white filters, organized into collections. Each collection contains filters suited to particular types of photography or editing styles. This makes it easy to choose the best photo filters for your images.
Once you apply a VSCO preset, you can adjust its strength to tone down the effect.
You can make further adjustments using a selection of editing tools. These include color, exposure, sharpness, skin tone, film grain, vintage fade, and vignette.
You can organize filters and editing tools so that your favorites are always easy to find. The VSCO app also has a built-in camera and photo-sharing community.
VSCO is free to download from the App Store. It includes a basic collection of 10 filters as well as a set of photo editing tools.
You can access the full range of over 130 filters, as well as additional editing tools, by subscribing to VSCO X membership ($19.99 a year).
Learn how to use VSCO with our in-depth tutorials:
How To Use VSCO Filters To Create Beautiful iPhone Photos
VSCO App Tutorial: How To Shoot & Edit Beautiful iPhone Photos
2. A Color Story
Photo filters that make colors pop and whites appear bright:
- Over 100 filters with adjustable strength
- Create custom filters saved from your editing steps
- Over 40 movable overlay effects, such as textures, light leaks, and lens flare
- Editing tools, including selective edits
- Batch edit many photos at once
- Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
A Color Story focuses on bringing the colors in your photo to life. This photo filter app makes colors pop and whites appear bright. In general, the filters add a fresh, modern touch to your photos.
You can create custom filters, and save them for future use. The app has over 20 editing tools, including the option to apply edits to selected parts of your image.
A Color Story also has a wonderful collection of moveable overlay effects.
These include lens flare, bokeh, light leaks, glows and textures. You can move, resize and rotate these overlays. And you can adjust the opacity to blend the effect with your photo.
The batch edit feature lets you apply filters and other edits to several images at once. This is a great time-saving feature when you have a lot of similar photos to edit.
A Color Story is free to download on the App Store. It comes with a selection of free filters to get you started. You can download many more filters and effects, starting at $0.99 per collection.
3. Afterlight 2
Full-featured photo editing app with customizable photo filters and overlays:
- Free filter packs created by well-known mobile photographers
- Filters are customizable with editing tools
- Create your own unique filters for future use
- Dust and light leak overlays
- Selective editing tools and double exposure
- Price: $2.99 (no in-app purchases or subscriptions)
Afterlight 2 filters are quite subtle. So you don’t have to worry about them overpowering your photos.
They range from bright and fresh to grungy and vintage. This gives you plenty of choice for different editing styles.
You can customize existing filters using a range of editing tools. Or create your own custom filters for a unique look.
The app has a selection of dust and light leak overlays.
You can edit your images using a wide range of adjustment tools. And you can also blend two images to create beautiful double exposures.
Afterlight 2 is available for $2.99 on the App Store. The price includes all filters, and there are no in-app purchases or subscription fees. The app is updated with new free content every month.
Powerful photo editor with customizable iPhone filters:
- Large collection of customizable filters
- Black and white, grainy film, and grungy textures
- Vintage, noir, and “retrolux” filters for a retro look
- Portrait enhancement and glamor glow filters
- Powerful selective editing tools
- Price: Free (no in-app purchases or subscriptions)
Snapseed offers a wide range of filters for getting creative with your iPhone photo editing. Some of the Snapseed filters aren’t as subtle as other filter apps. But the filters are customizable, so you can tone down the effects if you wish.
Filter categories include Black & White, Vintage, Grunge, Grainy Film, Retrolux and Glamor Glow.
The Portrait filter is perfect for enhancing your portrait photos. It brightens faces, smoothes skin, and makes eyes sparkle.
Snapseed also has a set of filters under the Looks tab. Again, you can customize them to suit the photo you’re editing.
This app is a powerful photo editor with an excellent set of professional editing tools. You can apply edits to only certain parts of the image, giving you ultimate control over your photos.
Snapseed is free to download from the App Store. Everything in the app is free. There are no in-app purchases, subscriptions or upgrade fees.
Apply filters and edits right before you share your photos on Instagram:
- Great selection of flattering iPhone filters
- Adjustable filter strength
- Editing tools for cropping, color, exposure, and sharpness
- Add a vignette or tilt-shift effect
- Edit and share your photos within a single app
- Price: Free (no in-app purchases or subscriptions)
Instagram has a great selection of filters, although not as many as some of the other apps we’ve covered. Some of its iPhone filters have a subtle vintage feel. But there are also options for creating a fresh or moody vibe.
Instagram is free to download from the App Store. All filters and editing tools are free to use, and there are no hidden charges.
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Powerful photo editor and filter app for editing Live Photos and still images:
- Good selection of color and B&W filters
- Filters can be applied to iPhone Live Photos as well as still images
- Includes filters designed for landscape and portrait photos
- Create your own custom filters
- Powerful photo editing tools
- Batch edit many photos at once
- Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Darkroom offers a good selection of free filters. And there are plenty more premium filters available to buy. The great thing about Darkroom is you can apply filters and edits to Live Photos as well as still images.
Filters range from bright and colorful to faded vintage and monochrome. They’re organized into categories, including Landscapes, Portraits, and B&W. You can adjust the filter strength using a slider.
You can also create your own filters and save them for future use. The batch edit feature lets you apply filters and other edits to many photos at once.
As well as one-tap filters, Darkroom has an impressive collection of editing tools. These include standard color and exposure tools, as well as curves and selective color.
Darkroom is free to download from the App Store. It comes with 12 free filters to get you started. You can buy the entire collection of premium filters and editing tools for $7.99.
All-in-one photo editor with beautiful film-inspired filters and artistic tools:
- Analog, duotone and B&W filters
- Highly customizable film-inspired presets
- Mask tool for applying filters and edits selectively
- Includes a range of editing and artistic tools
- Price: $3.99 (no in-app purchases or subscriptions)
Enlight contains a great range of beautiful, highly customizable photo filters. The Analog filters add a film-inspired look to your photos. The BW presets include classic black and white, as well as vintage sepia styles. The Duo filters apply gorgeous duotone gradients of two colors.
You can customize each preset to create your own unique look. Filter settings include color, brightness, film grain, fade, vignette and light leaks.
Enlight is a very intuitive app to use. You adjust the strength of filters and settings by swiping left or right.
The app has a Mask tool for applying filters and edits to only certain parts of your image. It also has a good selection of general photo editing tools. And you can get creative with the artistic paint and sketch effects.
You can download Enlight for $3.99 on the App Store. Everything is included in this price, with no extra in-app purchases.
Sophisticated editing app with an extensive collection of film-inspired filters:
- Huge collection of free film-inspired filters
- Many more premium filters available to buy
- Create and share your own custom filters
- Overlays that emulate weather, clouds, skies, lens flare, and light leaks
- Editing tools, including portrait retouching
- Price: Free (with a subscription fee for premium filters and tools)
Polarr has an extensive collection of free film-inspired filters. Many more premium filters are available by subscribing to the Pro version of the app.
The Polarr filters are of high quality, and the strength is adjustable. You can also create and share your own custom filters.
Polarr has a great range of professional photo editing tools. You can also add photorealistic overlays. These include clouds, sunset skies, rain, snow, sun flares, and light leaks. Get creative by adding and blending several different layers of effects.
Polar is free to download on the App Store. It comes with a large collection of free filters. More are available to buy via subscription. Polarr Pro subscription fees are $2.49 a month or $23.99 a year. This gives you access to their premium filters and pro editing tools.
Creative editing app for applying textures, grain, light leaks, and film-like filters:
- 26 filter presets based on popular film and post-processing techniques
- Grit, grain, grunge, and vintage film textures
- Analog light leaks and beautiful colored gradients
- Stack and blend effects using layers
- Editing tools for fine-tuning color, exposure, and sharpness
- Price: $2.99 (with in-app purchases)
Mextures is an amazing app for adding vintage and gritty textures to your iPhone photos.
It has a huge collection of textures, film grains, light leaks, and colorful gradients. These add wonderful mood and an artistic edge to your photos.
The app has a range of beautiful film-style filters, and the option to convert to black and white. You can use the editing tools to adjust color, exposure, and sharpness.
You can stack and blend unlimited layers of effects to create unique edits.
Save your edits as “formulas” to use over and over again on your photos. Or use formulas created by other photographers. This is perfect for getting started if you’re new to the app.
You can download Mextures for $2.99 on the App Store. More collections of effects are available as in-app purchases.
10. Distressed FX
Turn your photos into works of art with vintage-style filters and textures:
- Customizable vintage and moody filters
- Artistic and textured overlays
- Add birds and clouds to the sky in your photos
- Apply lens blur, bokeh and light effects
- Add custom textures and overlays from your own photo library
- Price: $0.99 (with in-app purchases)
Distressed FX allows you to create stunning artwork from your iPhone photos. Turn an ordinary image into a unique masterpiece with filters, textures, and overlays. The effects in this app are particularly suited to still life and landscape photography.
Start by adding a moody or vintage-style filter. Then transform your photo with a distressed texture overlay. You can even add a custom overlay using one of your own photos.
You can customize filters and textures in a variety of ways to ensure they blend with your photo.
The Bird tool lets you add a flock of birds to your image.
There are also cloud overlays to enhance a dull sky. Other effects include bokeh, lens flare, and light leaks. You can also add a blurred vignette to help focus attention on the center of your composition.
Distressed FX is very easy to use. In less than a minute, you can turn a mundane iPhone photo into a work of art.
Distressed FX costs $0.99 on the App Store. More filters and overlays are available as in-app purchases.
How To Choose The Best Filter App For You
In this article, you’ve discovered the 10 best photo filter apps for iPhone photography. But how do you choose the best filter app for you?
You definitely won’t need all 10 of these apps. You might only need one photo filter app. Or you might choose to download two or three to give you plenty of editing options.
The best photo filters are the ones that match your own personal style of editing. So take a moment to think about what kind of look you want to achieve when editing your iPhone photos.
Snapseed is also a good option for grungy, retro and vintage-style filters.
Do you share your images on Instagram? If so, it might be the only filter app you need. You can apply beautiful filters to your photos right before you share them.
You should also consider what kind of control you want over your iPhone filters. Are you happy with a one-tap filter? If so, VSCO and Instagram are perfect. If you want to customize filters, choose a more sophisticated app like Enlight, Snapseed or Afterlight 2.
And finally, think about whether you’ll want to use other photo editing tools as well as filters. Some apps focus on filters, with a few simple editing options available. But other apps include powerful photo editing tools, as well as one-tap filters.