Portrait pictures with a blurred background (or bokeh) are all the rage right now. Once considered a feature of DSLR cameras, today a large number of smartphones has a dedicated portrait mode to help you create these such photos.

The majority of these phones feature a dual-camera setup where the primary lens is used to capture the subject while the secondary one (telephoto or wide lens) creates depth to differentiate between subject and background.

However, handsets like the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come with a single camera sensor. But that doesn’t prevent them from offering a great Portrait Mode. Google’s flagships take bokeh shots using dual pixel focus, software algorithms including machine learning and computational photography.

But what if you have a lower-end phone that doesn’t offer the option of taking bokeh shots? Does it mean you should upgrade? Not necessarily. Instead, you could try and install one of the apps listed below which recreate this sought-after effect quite nicely.


What it is:

With AfterFocus, users can easily create DSRL-style background photographs by simply selecting the focus area.

Why we like it

  • Easy to use. Although it’s a pretty basic app which won’t drown you in options, it does get the job done.
  • Three types of blur to choose from including Lens Blur, Motion Blur and Zoom Blur.
  • The app also features a series of filters for the foreground, background or whole photo. There’s also the option to add effects including Vignetting, Color Mask or Stickers.

Install AfterFocus


What it is:

A photo app that comes with an amazingly easy-to-use editor which also includes the option of blurring your shots.

Why we like it:

  • Very modern, minimalist interface which lets you easily browse the features available.
  • Comes with a large collection of filters, most of which are free to use. Or at least you’ll be able to try them out for 30 days.
  • Offers an easy-to-use blurring tool which you can find in the Effect section of the photo editor.
  • Includes other options like Beauty Camera, Collage, Editor for Instagram.

Install Cymera


What it is:

One of the most popular editing apps, PicsArt also offers the option to blur the background of the photo. It also has more than just one type of blur effect.

What it is:

  • Allows you edit your photos, make a collage, draw or take pictures using the app’s own camera.
  • Let’s you browse through the edits of other users. Actually very similar to Instagram in this respect.
  • Has a challenge feature, which dares users to take and edit photos based on a certain prompt (for example: lipstick)
  • Comes with a number of Effects including Blur, Artistic, Pop Art, Paper and more.

Install PicsArt


What it is:

Another great photo app which includes a comprehensive image editor and drawing tools.

Why we like it:

  • The app is packed with features to help you make your images look edgier. You can find the blurring option under Focus.
  • You can choose between different focus modes including lens and shift blur. Users can also use the app’s smart select and smart erase tools to create the blur effect they want.
  • Has a Cut out feature which allows you to easily replace the background on your regular picture.

Install LightX


What is it:

Another photo editor for your smartphone that offers an excellent selective Focus effect.

Why we like it:

  • Simple yet powerful photo editing app. Just select the image you want to alter and start enhancing it.
  • Very good Focus effect. It includes a separate Blur tool which allows you to blur out any part of your photo.
  • In the era when everyone is browsing 9gag and Imgur, Aviary comes with a Meme generating tool.

Install Aviary

Blurred – Blur Photo Editor DSRL Image Background

What it is:

An app specialized in the art of Blur. Includes some unique blurring effects.

Why we like it:

  • Three types of Blur to play with: ShapeBlur (the subject is placed in a shape, and everything around it is blurred), Blur (manual tool for blurring), CropBlur (uses a tool similar to cutout to outline the subject and blur the background)
  • The app includes an editing tool too from where you can add Filters, Effects and Stickers.
  • Blurred includes packs of Stickers you can add to your photos, but only some of them are free.

Install Aviary


What it is:

An app that functions more like a camera app and which allows you to add the blurring effect as you snap the photo.

Why we like it:

  • The only app so far that applies blurring effect while you’re taking the photo. Activate the icon that looks like a camera lens from Settings.
  • Once you’ve snapped the photography you can enhance your photo. You can use tools such as Smooth, Sculpt, Whiten or Firm.
  • There’s a Bokeh feature and a separate Blur one under Tools. In the latter, you use a brush to blur the background of the image.

Install AirBrush

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