The Best Phone Camera Apps (According To Our Readers)

The Best Phone Camera Apps (According To Our Readers)

There are way too many third-party phone camera apps. This can make choosing a good one unduly difficult. We recently highlighted a couple of my personal favourites in the iOS and Android Lifehacker Packs, but there are plenty more that people love to use. Here are the best of the bunch, according to our readers.

Last week, we asked readers to tell us about the camera apps they couldn’t live without. Most people who responded to our call to arms all had a different app to recommend. So we’ve attempted to narrow it down to the truly great ones. Without further ado, here were some of your favourites:


Focos is one of the best camera apps you can download for your iPhone—if you don’t have a fancy new iPhone XS or XS Max. While Focus has a ton of options you can play with, its “cool factor”—if people even still use that phrase—is that you can edit the depth of field of a Portrait Mode photograph after the fact. Better still, you can do that for free. The app has premium features you pay for ($US11 ($15)), but adjusting a photo’s background blur isn’t one of them.

Lifehacker reader writes:

“…with dual lens iPhones. Focos realised the dream of Lytro Camera without needing additional hardware. New version allows you to add lights anywhere in the Pseudo 3D field of editing. Selectively add HDR, focus points, blurring, bokeh, etc. Who needs DSLR with this app?”

And Lifehacker reader MeanKirby hits the nail on the head with his praise:

“Gives you a lot of control and many of the features that the new XS iPhones have. Allows your to adjust the depth of field/aperture which often gives your photos a more professional look.”


Good ol’ Halide, one of our camera picks in the Lifehacker Pack for iOS, is another excellent option if you’re looking for finer control over your iPhone’s many settings when taking a picture. The app isn’t free, but its $US5 ($7) price is worth its incredible set of features. It has easy to control settings—you can adjust your iPhone camera’s exposure and focus by flicking your finger on the screen—and a built-in histogram can show you if you’re about to blow out any parts of your shot.

Halide doesn’t come with any editing features, but that’s not really the point of the app. It’ll help you take better photographs, which you can then edit in any app you want.

As Lifehacker reader THagler writes:

“Halide is simple with a minimalist design but very powerful. It offers complete control and support for RAW shooting.”

Lifehacker reader Jason Luong is similarly short in his praise, but still loves the app:

“For iPhone, the Moment Camera app or Halide are both fantastic. They give you full camera control and can shoot raw.”

Everything else

Every other Lifehacker commenter mentioned a unique camera app, which is surprising, but not that surprising given the wide range of apps you can pick from on Android and iOS. They include, in no particular order:

Open Camera (Android)

JoshTheBat: “It’s lightweight but has a lot of features such as manual controls, burst mode, focus and exposure locks, grid overlays, HDR support, and more. It’s also open source, free, and no ads.”

Google Camera NX (Android)

James Doyle: “For Android, and only for select phones. This is a weird choice because it’s not available via a store, but via an xda-developers forum post. But if you’ve ever been jealous of the camera features of the Pixel 2, this app gives you all those features: industry leading HDR+, Motion Photos, 120fps and 240fps slow-mo videos, and portrait mode with background blurring.

Your best bet to find it is to just google “Camera NX” and your phone model. Inevitably you’ll find people on forums or reddit sharing links to the installable APK or trying to figure out how to get it to work.”

Pocketbooth (iOS)

Playjouer: “It’s a cool, cheap app that creates photo strips. Super simple to use. You set up the camera, it flashes before each new photo so you can readjust your pose and you’re left with four fun exposures in a photo strip. Great for kids, parties or goofing around with friends.”

VSCO (iOS and Android)

TheDrummer: “It’s straight forward, has RAW options and gives me (imho) the best filters out there. Of course, it costs you a yearly fee but you can also use it free if you’re willing to go with a few (great) filters only.

Check it out. Your photos will look very professional with it.”

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