Snapseed for iPhone and iPad review

Snapseed is a photo editing app for iPhone and iPad that not only offers tons of features, but is extremely easy to use. Not familiar with RGB Curves, histograms, and other professional editing tools? Not a problem! What makes Snapseed so great, is that anyone can pick it up and produce amazing results even if they aren't familiar with professional editing techniques.

Snapseed is a universal app for iPhone and iPad, but I will be sharing screenshots from the iPad version in this review. The iPhone version has the exact same features.

General layout

The layout of Snapseed is very straightforward and easy to navigate. In landscape orientation, you'll see a two-column sidebar of editing tools on the left and your photo on the right. In portrait orientation, the photos is on the top and a scrollable toolbar with your tools is on the bottom.

The editing tools are displayed as simple thumbnails with their names clearly labeled and an image that's related to the adjustment type. This is a refreshing approach as many photo editing apps use a bunch of icons who's meanings you have to memorize.

There are 13 different adjustment tools. With all of them, swiping up and down lets you chose the enhancement that you're editing and swiping left and right adjusts that chosen enhancement. This gives Snapseed a very clean UI that's free of sliders and other distractions.

Another feature of each tool's screen is the Compare button. Holding this down will show what your image looked like before applying the tool you're using. To compare with the original image, hold down the Compare button on the main screen.

Auto Correct

The first and most basic available tool in Snapseed is called Auto Correct. It consists of two enhancements: contrast correction and color correction.

Selective Adjust

Selective Adjust is a fantastic tool that lets you focus your adjustments to a specific area, called a control point, of the photo. You can add as many control points as you wish. Pinching and zooming will adjust the size of the control point and while you do so, Snapseed will show a red mask over your image so you can see exactly where the adjustments will take place.

If you look closely, you'll see that this mask is actually bigger than the circle. This is because the circle designates where the photo will receive the adjustments at full strength and where the fading will begin. Without a good fade, the images would look terrible with a focused editing region. Snapseed does a fantastic job of fading so that your image looks good.

The adjustments you can apply to each focus point are brightness, contrast, and saturation.

Tune Image

Snapseed's Tune Image tool lets you adjust the brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation, and white balance of your photo.

Straighten & Rotate

The Straighten & Rotate editing tool let's you, well, straighten and rotate your image. You simply swipe up and down or left and right to straighten. The new cropped region will be kept straight and your image will tilt behind it. Unfortunately, you cannot fine tune the final crop by moving the image around. Sometimes there's room to shift the crop left or right, but you can't.


Snapseed comes with 7 different crop ratios -- 14 if you count landscape and portrait orientation of each ratio separately like many apps do. You can also constrain the crop to the original ratio or use free transform.


The Detail tool is where you go to adjust sharpening and structure of your photo. What's extra special about this tool, however, is that it comes with a loupe that lets you zoom in on a section of the photo so that you can get a good look at the pixels and how sharp they are.

Black & White

As expected, the Black & White section of Snapseed lets you convert your photo to a black and white image. It has six different presets: neutral, contrast, bright, dar, film, and darken sky, and five different color filters: neutral, red, orange, yellow, and green. You can also make adjustments to the brightness, contrast, and grain.

Vintage Films

The Vintage Films tool in Snapseed is basically 9 different vintage filters that you can apply to your photo as well as 5 different textures. The adjustments that can be made are brightness, saturation, texture strength, center size, and style strength. The center size adjustment is Snapseed's way of referring to the strength of the vignette.


Drama is yet another set of filters: two each for drama, bright, and dark. The adjustments that can be made are saturation and filter strength.


The last set of filters is Grunge -- and grunge is the perfect description for them. Instead of a popup of filter options like the previous filter packs, the Grunge tool actually uses a slider to change the style. This lets you fine tune it to the exact color that you want. It also comes with 5 different grungy textures that make your photo looks like it's been through quite a beating. The other adjustments you can make are to brightness, contrast, texture strength, and saturation.

Center Focus

The Center Focus tool is similar to Selective Adjust in that you have a center point with an adjustable radius around it. The difference is that the things are you are adjust about this point are blur strength and outer and inner brightness. Snapseed also includes 6 different presets if you don't want to spend time find the perfect combination of adjustments: portrait 1, portait 2, vignette, blur, old lens, and foggy.

Organic Frames

In the Organic Frames section of Snapseed, you'll find 8 different frame styles with the ability to adjust their width and offset.


The final tool in Snapseed is Tilt-Shift. People love adding fake blur to their photos and Snapseed definitely does not disappoint in this department. In fact, since this section includes a radial (circular) blur, there is a lot of similarities between this and blurring effects you can do with the Center Focus tool. The linear tilt-shift is different though. With both types, you can adjust the transition, blur strength, brightness, saturation, and contrast.

The Good

  • 13 different editing tools, most of which include many different adjustment options
  • Share to email, Flickr, Facebook Twitter, printer, or "Open In" another photography app
  • Compare button lets you quickly and easily see how your edits compare with the original photo
  • Universal for iPhone and iPad
  • Supports the new iPad's Retina display

The Bad

  • Can't move the cropping region when straightening
  • Blurring with Center Focus and Tilt-Shift are very similar

The bottom line

Snapseed is a fantastic photo editor that's powerful, yet easy to use. Snapseed is best for users who want to play around with adjustments, but who don't understand (nor care to understand) how to use more advanced and professional tools. Snapseed makes it easy for anyone to beautifully and artistically edit their photos on their iPhone or iPad.

$4.99 - Download Now

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.