Mobile scanning apps have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, and that’s no surprise. Not only are most people doing more things digitally, but the convenience of scanning your documents with a device that, let’s be honest, is rarely more than three feet away at any given time, is a pretty convenient option.
Using just the camera on your smartphone and one of the many mobile scanning apps available, you can scan receipts, letters, artwork, make copies of your ID and important documents, digitize cherished family recipes, and more.
Some mobile scanning apps offer OCR capabilities, which will convert the text in your document into digital text that you can search, copy and paste from, and edit.
Whether you’re looking for a cost-free option for occasional scanning or are ready to invest in a paid app with more robust features, there are options to fit every situation.
With a sea of apps out there claiming to be the best app for scanning documents, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the right one.
We’ve sifted through all of the most popular mobile scanning apps, trying and testing each one, so you don’t have to. Our goal was to find apps that not only promise great features but also deliver on those promises, while being easy to use, affordable, and producing high quality scans.
Each app here is good in its own right, we’ve spared you from the apps that flopped. Below are our findings, feel free to skip around to whatever apps you’re interested in and skip down to the bottom for more information about how we tested the apps.
Table of Contents
- Microsoft Lens
- Genius Scan
- Adobe Scan
- Swift Scan
- Simple Scanner
- AI Scanner
- Tiny Scanner
- Scan Shot
CamScanner impresses with its robust features and sophisticated OCR technology, making our pick for the best paid mobile scanning app.
It offers a 3-day trial, providing users with a brief period to explore its functionalities before committing to a $39.99 annual subscription, which we felt is a worthy price for such a great piece of software. Cam Scanner stands out for its exceptional ability to transform text accurately, both from printed documents and handwritten notes, into digital text.
A key strength of CamScanner is its seamless Word export feature. The process was incredibly smooth, and the converted documents retained most of their formatting and were to edit, reflecting the app’s high-quality OCR capabilities. This ease of conversion and editing is particularly beneficial for users who regularly work with text-heavy documents.
However, during our testing, we noticed some challenges with the initial scanning process. CamScanner sometimes struggled with correctly adjusting the angles, leading to slightly distorted images. While this was generally fixable with a rescan, it’s a consideration for those who need quick, accurate scans on the first try.
CamScanner also caters to students and educators by offering an educational version that provides all the features of the free version, while removing ads and watermarks. The app’s compatibility with Google accounts for sync purposes is another plus, enhancing its utility for users who rely on Google’s services for document management.
Overall, with its user-friendly interface packed with a variety of features, Cam Scanner positions itself as a powerful tool in the mobile scanning app market. It’s a particularly strong option for those who value precision in text conversion and are willing to invest in a quality app.
Microsoft Office Lens is as robust and versatile as a document scanning app can get. It’s highly rated by users, showcasing its reliability and effectiveness from reviewers across both platforms. One of the key highlights of Office Lens is its ability to export scanned documents in a variety of Microsoft Office formats, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, making it the perfect app for users already in the Microsoft ecosystem.
Microsoft Lens was also one of the few apps we tested that allows exporting to PDF without a paid plan, making it a great choice for those looking to quickly scan to PDF on a pinch.
The app also offers a bunch of editing and cropping features, just in case your scan didn’t come out how you had imagined. One unique feature Office Lens offered that no other app did was is its immersive reader, which reads OCR-converted text out loud, although we weren’t sure how many people would actually use this feature.
Speaking of OCR, the app performed well in our tests in recognizing and converting text. However, we observed an issue with the formatting of our scanned form. The content from the right-hand side was pushed down below the left, which compromised its usability in our test.
However, where Office Lens falls a bit short is in its handling of handwritten text. Our tests indicated that the app does not fare well in recognizing and converting handwritten notes, which might be a constraint for users who frequently work with handwritten documents.
Despite this limitation, the overall ease of use and comprehensive feature set of Microsoft Office Lens position it as a strong contender in the document scanning app arena, particularly for those who require versatile export options and high-quality digital scans.
The first thing that struck us about Genius Scan was its clean interface and the overall smoothness of the user experience. In our opinion, it stood out as the most user-friendly among the scanning apps we tested. This makes Genius Scan a great option for those who may not be tech-savvy or prefer a straightforward, no-fuss app for their scanning needs.
Genius Scan allows for the creation of both PDF and JPEG files, but it places its more advanced features like OCR and password protection behind a paywall. To access these, users would need to opt for the paid version. While the app offers a paid subscription at $0.99 per month and a more comprehensive enterprise version at $24.99, which includes cloud sync and unlimited backups, its free version still offers considerable utility, including the ability to export to PDF.
The app’s organizational features are another highlight, enabling users to efficiently manage their scanned documents in folders. This can be particularly useful for those who scan various types of documents and require a methodical storage system.
In terms of OCR performance, Genius Scan did well with printed text, albeit with a few minor errors. However, it struggled significantly with our handwriting samples, failing to produce usable results. This is an important consideration for users who need reliable handwriting recognition.
Overall, Genius Scan presents a solid option for those seeking a user-friendly and efficient document scanning solution, with the caveat that some of its more advanced features come at an additional cost
Adobe Scan, available on both iOS and Android, leverages AI technology to enhance the scanning experience. It excels in correcting image perspective and sharpening both handwritten and printed text. The app includes user-friendly tools designed to remove glares and shadows, making it a robust tool for producing clear, high-quality scans.
Adobe Scan offers a 7-day trial, after which it costs $9.99 per month. For those who already have an Adobe account and a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Scan can be a part of that package, adding more value to their existing subscription.
A notable limitation in the free version is that it restricts export formats to JPEG only. However, once you opt for the paid version, you gain access to a full range of export options, including PDF and Word, among others.
As expected from an Adobe product, the app boasts excellent filters. These filters are particularly effective for cleaning smudges and scribbles off documents, enhancing the overall clarity of the scans. A unique feature of Adobe Scan is its ability to scan ID cards, capturing both the front and back and then seamlessly merging them into a single image.
Instead of a typical OCR feature, Adobe Scan integrates with Adobe Acrobat, which, in our testing, provided the best results in terms of accuracy. This integration allows users to enjoy familiar Acrobat functionalities like fill and sign, printing, and PDF compression to reduce file size.
Another strong point of Adobe Scan is its edge detection capability, which automatically corrects for image angles, making the scanning process more forgiving and efficient.
Overall, Adobe Scan stands out for its advanced image correction features, excellent filters, and seamless integration with Adobe’s ecosystem, making it a top choice for users looking for a more professional scanning solution.
SwiftScan’s broader feature set includes automatic edge detection and image enhancement, making it a strong contender in the scanning app market. However, it’s worth noting that these advanced features, along with an ad-free experience and unlimited scans, are locked behind a $24.99 annual subscription for the Pro version. The good news is that they do offer a 3-day trial, giving users a chance to test the waters before committing.
The app also offers cloud sync and electronic signature capabilities, adding to its versatility. However, during our testing, we found that the initial scanning process in SwiftScan requires a bit more user input compared to other apps. It doesn’t apply cropping or filters automatically, asking users to confirm these adjustments manually, which some might find less intuitive. Nonetheless, with a bit of tweaking using its filters, we were able to achieve excellent results.
When it comes to OCR performance, SwiftScan does well with printed text. But we noticed a significant drawback in our invoice scan test: the text extracted lost all formatting, reordering most of the text in a way that diminished its usefulness. Furthermore, the app’s performance on handwriting recognition was underwhelming, with almost none of the handwritten text being accurately converted.
Overall, SwiftScan offers a robust set of features for iOS users, especially in its Pro version. However, its less intuitive interface and limitations in OCR accuracy, particularly with handwritten text, are points to consider for potential users.
Simple Scanner, available on both Android and Apple devices, offers a blend of features in its free version that are perfect for casual scanning needs. A standout feature is its ability to export scans to PDF format, a feature that is not always available in free versions of other scanning apps we tested.
The OCR capability of Simple Scanner is another plus. It efficiently converts text from scanned documents and even allows you to export the text extracted from your document as a .txt file, which is helpful for those who need to work with the text later.
It’s important to note that while the free version of Simple Scanner does include ads, this isn’t a universal feature across all similar apps. However, for many users, this may be a minor inconvenience compared to the app’s overall utility.
For those who require more advanced features, such as cloud integration with services like Google Drive or Dropbox, Simple Scanner offers a paid version. After an initial 3 day free trial period, a yearly subscription is available for $29.99 per year.
The only downside we found, if you could even call it that, is that the app’s cropping function, which appears post-capture, may require a bit of getting used to. In our tests we found we needed to manipulate the edges manually more frequently than other apps, which really isn’t a big deal at all.
Overall, Simple Scanner is a great option for those in need of a straightforward and budget-friendly scanning solution, especially considering its PDF export and OCR capabilities in the free version.
AI Scanner, with its intuitive and straightforward interface, offers a functional and accessible experience for both iOS and Android users. Garnering a 4.4 rating from about 11,919 votes, it demonstrates its appeal to a broad user base.
One of the key aspects of AI Scanner is its effective OCR capability. In our tests, it was one of the few apps that successfully retained the original document’s formatting during text conversion, which is a significant advantage for preserving the layout and integrity of scanned documents.
The app also supports scan to PDF functionality and offers multilingual OCR, catering to the needs of a diverse range of users. During our testing, we found that while the scanning process was straightforward, it did require some manual adjustment. The app’s edge detection, although manual, was user-friendly, and its enhancement features effectively removed shadows from the scans.
AI Scanner offers a 3-day trial, which, if not canceled, leads to a $9.99 per month subscription. This trial period provides users with an opportunity to explore the app’s features before committing financially.
A particularly unique feature of AI Scanner is its ‘Count similar objects’ tool. This functionality allows users to count the number of items in an image, a feature that could be invaluable for professionals in various industries, such as construction or inventory management. This capability, alongside the app’s other features, contributes to AI Scanner’s versatility and uniqueness in the scanning app market.
Tiny Scanner, with its easy-to-use interface, offers a straightforward scanning experience. It includes a 3-day trial followed by an affordable $19.99 yearly subscription.
While its edge detection can be challenged by shadows, manually adjusting them is very easy, making it a minor inconvenience.
The app’s filtering and editing features, though not as extensive as some of its competitors, are effective and sufficient for most users. In fact, some users may actually prefer the simplicity and ease of use.
In our tests, we found that the OCR function is reliable, and the ability to export OCR results to various formats like text files and Word documents is a useful feature.
TapScanner stands out with its user-friendly interface and handy features.
It offers the flexibility to save files as PDF, text, or JPEG, and has a unique pricing structure: $3.99 a week or $19.99 a year, seemingly encouraging the yearly subscription.
Its automatic detect and crop feature simplifies the scanning process, and the app guides users through their first scan, making it easy for beginners.
The built-in filters are efficient, and an erase feature helps remove shadows or smudges, though a zoom-in function would be beneficial for finer edits. While its OCR is generally effective, we found that it did occasionally make small errors when converting the text from our printed invoice sample.
Scan Shot is a versatile mobile scanning app with a crisp interface that is easy and fun to use. The app provides extensive save to PDF options, including the ability to choose the file size, layout, and format when saving, making it easy to create the PDF you need.
While features like OCR, printing, and PDF password protection require a paid account, Scan Shot does offer a 7-day trial for $.99, which auto-renews at $6.99 weekly. Or you can pick up a monthly subscription for $9.99, which is obviously a much better deal..
It also includes a unique sign feature for adding signatures to scanned documents. However, the OCR, while generally effective, made a few mistakes even on printed samples.
How We Rated Each App
The best scanning apps stand out by offering an intuitive interface, a rich set of features for various needs, and high-quality results that make you question the need for a scanner.
In our evaluation of the various document scanning apps, we employed a comprehensive approach, taking into account multiple features and aspects to ensure we provide well-rounded and reliable recommendations.
- Scan Quality: The clarity and readability of the scans were paramount. We examined how well each app captured text and images, paying close attention to color accuracy, resolution, and the handling of different types of documents.
- Ease of Use: An intuitive user interface and straightforward functionality were crucial. We evaluated how simple it was to start a new scan, navigate through the app, and access essential features.
- Feature Set: We looked for apps that offered a balance of basic and advanced features. This included text recognition (OCR), image editing tools, the ability to scan multiple pages, and options for saving or sharing documents in various formats.
- Speed and Efficiency: We assessed how quickly and effectively each app processed scans. This was especially important for users who need to scan a large number of documents swiftly.
- Security and Privacy: With the scanning of sensitive documents, security features were a key consideration. We examined the security protocols each app uses to protect user data, including encryption and privacy policies.
- Compatibility and Integration: We considered how well each app works across different devices and operating systems. Additionally, we looked at the app’s ability to integrate with other services, such as cloud storage and email.
- Customer Support and Reliability: Reliable customer support and the overall stability of the app were also important factors. We looked into user reviews and feedback to gauge the reliability of each app and the quality of support provided.
- Cost-effectiveness: For paid apps, we evaluated whether the features and performance justified the price. For free apps, we considered the presence of ads and any limitations imposed on the free version.
How We Tested Each App
In our effort to provide the most accurate and useful recommendations for document scanning apps, we adopted a detailed and fair testing methodology. We aimed to mirror real-world scenarios to evaluate each app’s performance in everyday conditions. This involved testing each app on two different printed documents, as well as three handwritten samples, including one in cursive, to challenge and assess the apps’ capabilities across various text types.
To ensure the results were as realistic as possible, we conducted all tests under typical household lighting conditions. This approach was chosen to replicate the environments where most users would likely use these apps, such as in their homes or offices. By doing so, we could gauge the performance of these apps in settings that are most common to our potential users.
Additionally, each app was tested using its full paid version. This decision was made to ensure that we could explore and evaluate all the features offered by each app, without being limited by the constraints of free or trial versions. Our goal was to provide a comprehensive assessment of each app’s full potential, thus enabling users to make an informed decision based on the complete range of functionalities available.
Our meticulous approach in testing these apps was designed to ensure that no app was given an unfair advantage and that our evaluation was as thorough and unbiased as possible. We believe this level of careful and detailed testing is crucial in providing valuable insights and trustworthy recommendations to our users.
Why Does Our Opinion Matter?
As a seasoned document scanning company with over 20 years of experience in the industry, we bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Our daily operations involve scanning hundreds of thousands of documents, equipping us with a unique perspective on what makes for efficient and effective scanning. This extensive background means we know a thing or two about the ins and outs of document scanning, from the simplest tasks to the most complex projects.
We understand that not every document scanning need requires professional-grade services. Our clients and website visitors often seek simpler, more accessible solutions for their scanning needs. This is precisely why we’ve taken the time to evaluate various mobile scanning apps. Our goal is to provide reliable, expert advice on alternatives that can suit a range of scanning requirements – from a single page to a small batch of documents.
What Mobile Scanning Apps Are Good For
Quick and Convenient Scanning
Mobile scanning apps are a game-changer for quick, on-the-go scanning. Whether you’re at a coffee shop, in a meeting, or traveling, these apps allow you to capture documents instantly. They’re ideal for situations where time is of the essence and traditional scanning methods are not feasible.
Extracting Text from Documents
These apps shine when it comes to extracting printed text from various documents. Utilizing OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, they can convert printed text into digital format, making it editable and searchable. This feature is incredibly useful for students, professionals, or anyone needing to digitize and edit text from physical sources.
Storage and Sharing
Most of these apps offer seamless integration with cloud services, allowing you to store and access your scans from anywhere. They also make sharing scanned documents effortless, whether it’s through email, social media, or other digital platforms.
What Scanning Apps Are NOT Good For
Scanning Large Volumes
While mobile scanning apps are convenient for occasional use, they’re not the best choice for scanning large volumes of documents. For extensive scanning tasks, traditional scanners are more efficient and less time-consuming.
Inconsistent Recognition of Handwriting
During our extensive testing of various mobile scanning apps, we uncovered a notable limitation: the inconsistency in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities when it comes to handwritten text. While most of these apps performed well in digitizing printed text, their effectiveness in accurately recognizing and converting handwriting was significantly lacking.
Scanning Sensitive Documents
When scanning sensitive or private information, security becomes a crucial consideration. Mobile apps may pose a risk if the data is stored or transmitted insecurely. It’s important to be cautious and choose apps with robust security features, especially when dealing with confidential documents.
After testing out more than 10 of the most popular mobile scanning apps available on the market, one thing is abundantly clear. Regardless of which app you choose, these tools offer convenience, a wide range of features, and the ability to accurately scan documents on the go.
However, for businesses and organizations where scanning needs are more extensive and demand a higher level of security and professionalism, mobile apps definitely fall short.
At SecureScan, we specialize in handling bulk scanning projects for where security matters, ensuring that your sensitive business documents are digitized not just with precision but also with the confidentiality and professionalism that your business requires.
When the volume, complexity, or security requirements of your scanning project exceed what a mobile app can provide, we can help.
Contact us today for more information or get a free quote for your next scanning projects from one of our technicians.