Version reviewed: 1.0
Price: $1.99, introductory priced at $0.99

Rating 3 stars

Bottom Line: Great looking effects, but low-res output. At least a four-star app when it supports high-res.

pxl is a new iPhone photo app that adds geometric and abstract effects to your photos. Rather than simulate low-res pixelization or a censored mosaic, pxl applies creative pixelization in a variety of styles to your images. Like photo apps Percolator and Decim8, it’s one of the rare modernist apps that looks forward in style, not backward.

I really like pxl except for one detail — the app only currently supports 640×960 on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Like the App Store description says, pxl allows you to create abstract compositions out of your own photos. Choose between 9 different unique styles, pinch to change the image resolution or shake your device to randomly compile an image out of all possibilities available.

The image resolution mentioned is actually the size of the pixels onscreen, not the actual photo resolution, which sadly is a maximum of 640×960 pixels — screen resolution of an iPhone 4 or 4S.

pxl is gorgeous. The interface is lean, geometric and easy to figure out. Slide through and select from the nine styles at the bottom of the screen. Some effects allow even further customization and allow you to change the pixel shape. Many of the styles have adjustable pixel sizes indicated by an inverted wedge at the top of the frame. Simply swipe the screen to adjust. Effects are updated in real time.

The effects are an excellent variety of pixelization, creative halftone dots and mosaics. The effects break down any image to it’s raw shapes and colors. In my test images, the contrast in colors was very vibrant.

The mosaics and pixelization effects that pxl adds to an image are gorgeous and range from mosaic-style squares to triangles to this great elongated mosaic with a combination square/halftone, scanline effect. Really cool! pxl is a fun and easy app to experiment with and create stunning abstracts.

In addition to the low resolution, pxl strips out almost all EXIF data from an image. If you shoot an image within the app, it doesn’t save the original as well. I recommend using the app’s photo library import feature only. Images are good fore sharing to Facebook and Twitter. They’re barely large enough for Flickr. And the largest, good photo print you’ll be able to make will be about 6.5″ wide by about 5″ tall. It’s a shame this app does not support higher resolutions as these images would look great at large sizes.

UPDATE 01: The app doesn’t handle square format images correctly. Rather than process them square or cropping the image, pxl distorts and stretches square images to fit the rectangular frame. A big tip of the hat to app beta tester Pat Timney for pointing this out. =M=

pxl is easy to use, has a clean interface and creates fantastic unique results. I debated between giving it a two and a half star rating or a three star. I’ve given it three stars because because I like the app’s effects that much despite the fact that it’s low res. I nearly took one star off my rating for the misleading mention in the app’s help that says output is “full quality.” I was really hacked off about that. pxl is at least a four star app when it can support at least the 2048×2048 that Percolator currently supports.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

pxl. - Rainer Kohlberger