Adobe Photoshop Express for Android: It’s Free, But Is It Any Good?

Erez Zukerman 03-04-2013

Photoshop is not just a strong brand. In the world of photo manipulation, it’s pretty much the only brand. When your product’s name becomes a verb (“photoshopping” images), that says something. But there’s a reason it’s such a strong brand – on the desktop, it is very, very good.


So naturally, when looking to review the free Android version of Photoshop called Adobe Photoshop Express, I was expecting to be wowed by something at least as awesome as Snapseed How to Use Snapseed: 10 Tips for Better Snapseed Photo Editing Snapseed is a free photo editing app that helps you get the best out of your photos. Use these Snapseed tips for best results. Read More , the powerful Google-owned image editor. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

How Simple Is Too Simple?

Mobile apps, especially those aimed at phones rather than tablets, should be dead-easy to use. You shouldn’t be fiddling with complex controls and swiping through teeny tiny toolbars in pursuit of the right icon to tap. That said, this sort of simplicity can be taken too far. Right from the get-go, Adobe Photoshop Express had me worried:

adobe photoshop express

These are the thumbnails of images on my phone. But they’re not divided into albums, and, worse still, many images are missing by default. By messing about with the settings, I was able to finally get Photoshop Express to index all of the photos stored on my phone, but by default, it only included a limited subset. I picked a photo I wanted to edit, and with high hopes for a sophisticated interface, set about tweaking it.

The Editing Interface

The editing interface consists of two toolbars, each with four buttons:


photoshop express

The top toolbar is where all the action takes place. You get to crop, tweak image settings (exposure, saturation, tint, and others), apply a soft focus effect, and finally, apply color effects and frames. Why soft focus gets its own button rather than be folded into the general Effects tab is anyone’s guess. The editing submenu looks like this:

photoshop express

Once you pick a tool, adjustment is easy: Just swipe your finger across the image to control the intensity. This is somewhat similar to Snapseed’s interface:


photoshop express

When adjusting the soft focus, I was expecting more granular controls, such as where the center of the focus should be. My hopes were in vain:

free photoshop express

Just like with the other effects, you can adjust the soft focus by swiping left or right, and that’s about it. It’s more of a “hazy focus” than a true soft focus – you can’t really fake depth-of-field with it.


Applying Effects & Frames

Much like Instagram, Photoshop Express lets you apply full-image color effects to quickly get the look you want:

free photoshop express

Just pick an effect, and it’s applied. The effects are very heavy-handed, and there is no way to control their intensity. There’s a selection of seven effects in all, ranging from “vibrant” to “soft black-and-white,” but they all lack the finesse usually associated with the Photoshop brand.

You can also pick a frame for your photo:


free photoshop express

Once again, there is no way to adjust anything about the frame. You can’t control the thickness of the line, the corner radius, the color, or basically, anything. You’re pretty much stuck with the rigid presets Photoshop Express decided to allow. Once applied, the rounded frame didn’t even come with PNG transparency: Instead, I got a JPG with four black corners.



Photoshop Express has a single Settings screen with a handful of options:

adobe photoshop express

You can opt to connect it to Facebook or TwitPic, and share your usage data with Adobe. There is one setting that’s truly important – “Show camera photos only in Phone view.” I find the label confusing, but by unchecking it, I was able to get Photoshop Express to recognize all of the photos on my phone rather than just the limited subset it started out with.

Finally, you get a button for resetting your preferences (all three of them), and one for clearing the image cache. That’s about it.

Bottom Line: A Disappointing App

To be blunt, Adobe Photoshop Express is unworthy of the Photoshop name. It certainly doesn’t make the grade for our Best Android Apps The Best Android Apps on the Google Play Store for 2019 Looking for the best Android apps for your phone or tablet? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for Android. Read More page, and remains an inferior product to Snapseed in each and every way. If you’re using it to edit images, you should really check out some of the alternatives.

Or, if you think I’m wrong and Adobe Photoshop Express is the best editor around, you’re more than welcome to tell me about it in the features. I’d love to hear what I missed.

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, Image Editor.

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  1. Rakendu Raj
    April 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm


  2. EdmarJohn SanDiego
    April 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    wow. brutal comment in the end. well if its the truth so be it.

  3. macwitty
    April 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Agree! Have used Snapseed but downloaded Photo Editor after Danny Stieben post and it was a very nice experience.

  4. Manuth Chek
    April 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Certainly disappointing. It's just plain ridiculous.

  5. Arshad Hasan
    April 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

    How does it compare with the iOS version?

    • Erez Zukerman
      April 3, 2013 at 9:17 am

      That's a good question, Arshad. I would imagine it's similar, but I avoid iOS myself so I couldn't answer for sure. :)

  6. Nevzat A
    April 3, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Snapseed, Pixlr-o-Matic, PicSay Photo Studio they are all good.

  7. Humza Aamir
    April 3, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Even though i'm not a hardcore photo-taking-editing-tweaking chap, i still prefer Pixlr Express by Autodesk. It doesn't have the simplicity of snapseed but has its own stylish interface and it does everything i've ever asked from it. (Its free too).

  8. Marek S?owikowski
    April 3, 2013 at 1:59 am

    I've been using this app for two years in my iPhone. This is only for fun. Nothing interesting. Maybe for my daughter. To correct my photos I use PC. This app is only brand promotion. Nothing else.

  9. Muz RC
    April 3, 2013 at 1:36 am

    will look and try this app later, because sometime when it called free, there only basic feature that will be excited for newbie users not for master user...