Disclaimer: Yahoo Tech and Flickr are both owned by Yahoo, so we won’t be including Flickr’s fine Android camera app in this list.
Google recently launched its Camera app in the Play store. The app, previously exclusive to Nexus and Google Play smartphones and tablets, finally brings the unadulterated Google take on camera software to Samsung, HTC, and LG owners.
But there’s one problem with this slick new app: Google Camera in the Play store is compatible only with Android 4.4 devices. According to Google’s own figures, this leaves about 95 percent of Android owners out in the cold.
Fortunately, Google Camera isn’t the only high-quality camera app there is. If you are itching to switch things up from the camera app that shipped with your phone, but aren’t yet on Android KitKat (4.4), there are many alternatives worth trying. And most are free.
Here are five good Android camera apps:
1. Camera for Android
This free app looks like the Android camera that Google’s new release is replacing, but with advertisements, and without the HDR and Photo Sphere features. Camera for Android is quick to use and does give you a Panorama option, but it doesn’t have the simple “preview every pixel you’re shooting” viewfinder that Google Camera does, meaning that some of the final image gets cropped out while you’re framing up.
2. Snap Camera HDR
When it comes to style, Snap Camera HDR is among the most elegantly conservative camera apps in the Play store. The only controls on the full-screen app are a blue camera button, a red camcorder button, and a hollow settings button. Even still, it packs many of the same features that other popular Android camera apps do: Panorama, Burst mode, a timer, and HDR. The full version of Snap Camera HDR will cost you $2, but the trial version is free to take for a spin.
3. Camera360 Ultimate
Moving away from simplicity, we find Camera360 Ultimate. That’s not to say we feel it’s is a difficult camera app to use, especially considering the greater number of features it carries — and all for free, by the way. For example: With Camera360 Ultimate, you can apply Instagram-like filters to your subjects while framing up, instead of after the fact. Shooting in Easy mode will also hide most of these extras if that’s more your speed.
4. Camera Awesome
Camera Awesome has a slick, intuitive design with some nice feature bumps over the other apps on our list — notably face detection, a selection of composition frames, a level, and a permanent flash function. The after-effects offered are also nice, and probably what you’re really paying the $3 for. In addition, there are no ads, and all the different camera modes and settings are super easy to find.
5. Best HDR Camera
Much like Google’s new Camera app, Best HDR Camera’s default viewfinder looks to give you a true 4:3 preview, so there shouldn’t be any surprises when you go to view your final full-resolution shot. Beyond that, this is a simple-to-use, and free, HDR camera that lets you easily switch among image resolutions and also widen the lens to take 19:6 shots at a lower pixel density.
Bonus: Focal (beta)
Focal is probably the most ambitious camera app in the Play store, bringing Photo Sphere support and the ability to tweak just about every feature, all packed into a super-basic design. But since it’s a beta version (and we actually had trouble getting some of the features to work), we wouldn’t feel right formally including it in our real list. For the adventurous, though, by all means give it a shot. It is free, after all.
Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me something funny? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.