There are many apps that let you use your smartphone camera as a scanner to create PDF files and share those files. Which one is best? Here are review summaries of the top 11 apps for Android, follow the links to the full reviews.
Note: All videos in this series show the same task for each app. I edited out pop-up advertisements, sped up portions and made other small edits to fit in a 60 second video. Office Lens and Genius Scan did not require any edits. I was able to perform the complete process in less than one minute, in one continuous take. In fact, Office Lens only took 45 seconds. Many of the others required double that time or more.
My Top Choices
Genius Scan really shines in the capture and editing process. The Magic capture method is very nice. Editing is streamlined and doesn’t have unnecessary features. The limited sharing methods in the free version is a prompt to purchase Genius Scan+ for $4.99. The banner ads are unobtrusive and didn’t bother me. If you are satisfied with email sharing and need a quality scanner app with excellent capture capabilities, Genius Scan is above average. It’s a good pick for any user regardless of which ecosystem you prefer: Apple, Google, Linux or Microsoft.
Office Lens is a very streamlined, focused app. It’s fast and does one thing really well: capture physical documents and bring them into the Microsoft ecosystem. And, that’s all it was ever designed to do. As a general-purpose document scanner it’s missing a few features you might want, but it’s hard to argue with the ease of use and speed to capture documents quickly. If you already use Microsoft OneDrive or other Microsoft apps, this probably is your choice.
Adobe Scan is easy to use. It has the basic features needed to scan and share PDF files. It requires that you use the Adobe Cloud system. It doesn’t have any compelling features that make it a standout. It’s advertising-free and doesn’t nag you to upgrade. If you need a free and easy to use scanner app, if you don’t mind sharing your files with Adobe, it’s a reasonable choice.
I personally don’t like it enough to give up that much control. I’ve uninstalled it from my phone.
CamScanner is a top rated app and has a premium price. It’s more than 10 times as expensive as many scanner apps I’ve reviewed. To live up to its reputation and price tag, it should be spectacular. Unfortunately, it’s only average, no better than many other free or $5 applications. I see nothing here that justifies the monthly fee. It’s interesting that I see many websites online offering pirate versions or crack codes. I’m not sure why it’s worth the effort to steal it, it’s not that awesome.
Clear Scanner is a workable app and has enough features to be useful. The ads in the free version are annoying, but the paid version is only $2.49. For the price, it’s a reasonable choice. OCR is handy, but the attached notes feature seems useless. I found the two-step capture annoying. Clear Scanner is based on a suite of open source libraries, and looks fairly generic.
Doc Scanner does the standard PDF creation task well. It also has a basket of features that seem unrelated to business use, such as cute stickers, overlay effects, doodles and QR code functions. The ads in the free version aren’t too annoying, and you can upgrade for five bucks. It’s not my first choice, but social media users might find it handy.
FastScanner is a mediocre scanner program, with a user interface that a little non-intuitive. There are far too many ads for my taste, and the program doesn’t justify buying the Pro version. It supports signature embedding and does an average job of the standard functions. It’s not what I’d recommend for most people.
Google Drive is very basic. It’s sufficient to quickly capture, crop, dewarp and save a PDF from a physical document using your phone camera.
Simple Scanner in many ways resembles TinyScanner. The user interface is quirky. The recropping process is harder than it needs to be. It has the ability to capture signatures, and that feature alone might make it your choice. They don’t have a viable free version, and to fully use all the menu options you’ll need to buy a couple more companion apps. If you need signatures, check it out – but if you don’t, you’ll find other apps more fun to use.
TinyScanner is a mediocre scanner program, with a user interface that a little non-intuitive. The recropping process is harder than it needs to be. It has a unique web server sharing feature that might be great for some users. If you plan to use it, you’ll need to spend five bucks and get the full version. TinyScanner is not my first choice or what I’d recommend for most people.
TurboScan is a solid program and it’s nice to be able to fully exercise the app without pop-up ads or restricted features. The SureScan 3x feature is unique and works well. I wish the page detection and auto-cropping worked better. I couldn’t find any glaring flaws or reasons to avoid it, but it didn’t wow me either.
If you use it long-term, you’ll need to spend five bucks and get the TurboScan full version.