The 5 Best Polaroid Apps for iPhone

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone

Early in 2009, Polarize was the first fake Polaroid photo app to hit the App Store. I call them fauxlaroids. Since then, many other apps have been released and the fauxlaroids has been a popular and enduring style of iPhoneography.

Instant photos are a classic Life In LoFi style — both analog and digital. Keep reading for our list of five of the best fauxlaroid photo apps.

A Gallery of Fauxlaroids


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Instant photography was pioneered years ago way back in 1947 by Edwin land, the inventor of Polaroid. With a Land camera, each piece of film was essentially its own darkroom. For the first time in photography, users could shoot, process, and share an image all within minutes. Sound familiar?

More than any other modern style of photography, iPhoneography and mobile photography share this pedigree. On a much grander and faster scale, mobile photographers can now shoot, process, and share their images, often within seconds.

Some of the earliest popular iPhone photo apps even tried to re-create the look of the classic Polaroids. While arriving late in the game, the most iconic of these is the look of Polaroid’s SX-70 cameras and the slightly washed out T600 film. It’s that instantly recognizable, classic square format image with the textured tabbed frame that most of us expect when we think of Polaroid.

Over the years, there have been many fauxlaroid photo apps in the App Store. Some are amazing re-creations of the SX-70 experience. Others are downright hideous.

I think it’s great to shoot iPhone photography that’s a fitting homage to the original instant photography. Here are five great fake Polaroid photo apps so you can capture and share like it’s 1975.

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone, shakeit photo

ShakeIt Photo

ShakeIt Photo is one of the remaining classic iPhoneography apps from the early days of the App Store. It’s by far the easiest fauxlaroid to use. Simply shoot or import and watch it process before your eyes. The frame textures look good. People who like ShakeIt Photo – I’m one of them – love the lush and rich colors the app creates. It’s not how the T600 film actually looks. It’s much more vibrant here. It looks like how we remember it looked. Triggering that memory is a powerful emotional connection that this simple photo app makes.

ShakeIt Photo is $1.99 in the App Store.

App Store Link: ShakeItPhoto – Banana Camera Co.

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone, polamatic


All five of these apps do an excellent job of re-creating the iconic SX-70 frame. Polamatic goes further by letting you add wear, use, and damage effects to the frame. Polamatic let you choose a pristine frame, a damaged and de-wrinkled frame, and everything in between. Polamatic also let you add “light leaks” that look a lot like damaged, unevenly processed prints. It’s a subtle effect and a nice touch.

Polamatic is $0.99 in the App Store with in-app purchases.

App Store Link: Polamatic™ – Dana Shakiba

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone, instant

Instant: The Polaroid Instant Camera

Instant re-creates a pretty authentic Polaroid shooting experience on iPhone. Its tiny viewfinder is almost like shooting with the original SX-70 cameras. It has a broad range of film effects, including many styles of Polaroid stock recreations. It even has some damaged and expired film stocks. Instant lets you add roller bar streaks to your image. It can also add some great looking wear to the photo, including fingerprints, dirt, and frame texture. Instant is a far cry from the point-and-shoot simplicity of Polarize and ShakeIt Photo.

Instant: The Polaroid Instant Camera is $1.99 in the App Store.

App Store Link: Instant: The Polaroid Instant Camera – ThinkTime Creations LLC

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone, camera+, camera plus


Got Camera+? There’s a pretty decent fauxlaroid hidden within this app. It doesn’t have a one-click instant film effect per se. If you use any one of its retro analog effects along with the Instant border that’s part of the standard gear, you can create some interesting if not entirely authentic fake Polaroid-style photos.

Camera+ is $2.99 in the App Store.

App Store Link: Camera+ – tap tap tap

fake polaroid, fauxlaroid, iphone, camerabag

Original CameraBag (left) and CameraBag 2’s updated Instant frame (right)

Bonus: CameraBag

If you’re lucky enough to have the original CameraBag for iPhone before it was deleted, you have one of the better fake Polaroid affects available for iOS. The SX-70 style frame looks authentic. The app lets you cycle through some good-looking, washed out Polaroid effects. Somehow, this did not translate to the update CameraBag 2. In the update, effects look a little too saturated and much of the time the colors look off to me. The frame has been changed from the classic SX-70 print to a ugly, elongated, instant… thing. The original CameraBag, though, gets it right. It may not be one tap – you might want to cycle through a few iterations – but it’s one-tap easy to get a classic, retro faux-Polaroid look with CameraBag.

Did I miss any? Share your favorite fake-Polaroid apps in the comments below!



About Marty Yawnick (1793 Articles)
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Richard Grant

    The instant filters in Lo-Mob are pretty cool, in my opinion. Can’t attest to their authenticity.

    • Marty Yawnick

      Hi, Richard!

      I looked at lo-mob, another great analog lo-fi app. The frames are good, but the color of the images didn’t look quite right to me. Good hunch on the authenticity.

      Yes. Thanks for mentioning Hipstamatic. For all the flak they sometimes take, they have a few great looking instant-style filters.


    • Barry Spock

      Plus one for Lomob. I don’t find all of their filters useful but I have had it for ages and I still come back to it every now and then. Their addition Superslides is worth a look too.

  • David Hayes

    Great list! I have all of these except ShakeIt…don’t know how I missed that one!!! I still have a couple of “real” Polaroid cameras that I bring out for special occasions. Nothing like them!!

  • Lily Sheng

    Marty, the company behind ShakeItPhoto (and Cross Process) came out with BananaCam, have you ever tested it? I don’t own the previous two apps but was thinking about getting BananaCam (since it’s newer) especially if it includes effects from the two older apps. I appreciate any feedback!

    • Marty Yawnick

      Hi, Lily,

      I have BananaCam. I think it’s more like Analog Camera — few, one-click effects. Easy to use interface. Good for easy shoot-and-go stuff. If you have VSCO Cam or a nicely stocked “camera bag”, you probably can skip BananaCam for now.


      • Lily Sheng

        Thanks, maybe they’ll come out with an update that’ll rock the world!

  • kentkangley

    Veenstra and Polatax are a couple of fauxlaroids I’ve tried in addition to Polamatic and Instant. I liked all four of them, but I really only needed one, so I stuck with Polamatic. I love the damaged frame effects.

  • Julez

    Hey, I think Afterlight has pretty astonishing Polaroid effects. The App offers different Polaroid borders as well as really beautiful light leaks that are the most close to the original that I’ve ever seen in an app.

  • Kayne


  • hemanti

    my favorite is instafusion app.i like its blending and masking features…

  • srijan

    i love instaglass app to edit my photos…it works wonderfully..

  • shuvoshri

    Make your image look creative in seconds through effection app… i just love this app…

  • Amelia Chand

    afterlight is nice, plus has an expansion with various polaroid frames! pretty easy interface to navigate through too.

  • soumik

    i am using vidblend app.